Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Focusing on Material Things

Nearly five years ago (yes, Poseidon's Underworld's fifth birthday is just around the corner on August 24th!) one of my very first posts concerned the gossamer dress that Faye Dunaway wore in The Towering Inferno (1974.) For, literally, forty years, I have been obsessed with her in that dress! I just never got over my love for the layers of chiffon blowing and billowing in the windy conditions of the top of The Glass Tower. Today, I'm going to toss out a few more pictures of her in the gown along with some other gowns and negligees that have caught my eye in the meantime.
The cast of Inferno was stellar and sprawling (though in retrospect, the presence of O.J. Simpson in a key supporting role grates a bit.) Some of the cast had to practically fight for attention against the fiery pyrotechnics (costar Paul Newman announced that the star of the picture was "that damn fire") and a few (like Robert Vaughn in an almost blink-and-you'll-miss-it role) lost out. Dunaway at least, despite some severe editing and few lines to deliver, still made an impression with her dramatic looks.

At times she seemed to be floating around rather than merely walking.
Just take a look at her incredible chin line in this photo with Newman.
By the time they start knocking windows out and taking ladies up to the rooftop, the dress is getting quite a workout.
Later, a bedraggled Dunaway shared a memorable clinch with her man before entering the uncertainty of a disabled glass elevator.
Her skull-like visage on the way down seems to foreshadow that it may not be an exactly uneventful ride...
Several years prior to Inferno, Dunaway had enjoyed a successful role in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) opposite Inferno's other male lead Steve McQueen and in a dress of vaguely similar material and color (if not length.)
Things came full circle in a way when, in 1998, Dunaway arrived at the 70th annual Oscar ceremony wearing a beautiful taupe chiffon concoction that seemed as if it was tailor-made to make my night! We don't want to discuss the sounds I made when she appeared on the red carpet...
On the arm of her handsome son, Liam, she was there as part of the first "Oscar's Family Album," in which a passel of stars were collected and arranged on stage for a commemoration. That night, her hair and clothing all just "worked," something that hasn't always been the case in years since.
If my love of chiffon was born in a movie theater in 1974, it was solidified a couple of years later when The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was shown on TV for the first time and I saw more of it, this time underwater (and trust me, in Shelley Winters' case there was plenty!!  LOL)
When I was a tyke, over-the-top chiffon dresses like this one enveloping Dolores Del Rio were eye-boggling objects of fascination and fantasy.
Later, I found that I appreciated simpler, sleeker styles (such as the one Suzy Parker is modeling here) as much or more as the cotton candy confections.
Here, we glimpse Marilyn Maxwell gauzing it up.
Merle Oberon offers us some sheer brilliance.
Maureen O'Sullivan provides waves of wonder.
Bette Davis takes a break from the heavier, darker gowns that she typically favored in order to show off this lighter creation.
This is an uncharacteristically slinky portrait of Greer Garson, who more often leaned towards covered-up ensembles with little skin showing.
Kathryn Grayson unveils a bedazzled number in this scene from The Desert Song (1953.)
This shot wouldn't have been out of place in my tribute to headpieces a couple of years back!
Miss Marilyn Monroe allows her legs to play peek-a-boo.
Inger Stevens poses with a billowing scarf in front of a fan.
I dearly love (for reasons which ought to be obvious!) this shot of Miss Lana Turner from The Rains of Ranchipur (1955.)
Chiffon in motion is provided by Kim Novak (with costar Jeff Chandler) in 1957's Jeanne Eagels.
How could I not love Marlene Dietrich practically catering to my fantasies in wafting chiffon?
Even better in black and wind-blown!
Bewitched's Elizabeth Montgomery is irresistible in this satin, chiffon and feathered lingerie ensemble.
Carroll Baker slinked around in a succession of movies from The Carpetbaggers (1964) to Sylvia (1965, seen here) to Harlow (also 1965.)
Yugoslavian actress Sylva Koscina twists and twirls a sheer negligee.
Sophia Loren almost distracts us from the fact that her sleeves are chiffon in this photo from Arabesque (1966.)
Sharon Tate models a dress for Valley of the Dolls (1967) that didn't wind up making it into the finished picture.
I don't believe this one made the grade either, but it's been a while since I've headed to the Valley.
Another life-changing moment came in The Ambushers (1967) when I was confronted with the triple-whammy of Senta Berger in patterned chiffon, oversized earrings (possibly the understatement of the century!) and an up 'do. Do yourself a favor and check her out in this if you ever get the chance!
A rapturously beautiful Stella Stevens radiates in a Moss Mabry gown from 1968's How to Save a Marraige and Ruin Your Life.
1977's Fun with Dick and Jane featured Jane Fonda in a deliberately overdone chiffon creation.
Years earlier, Miss Jane had posed under a bolt of chiffon with little or nothing else!
In 1978, Fonda costarred in California Suite, but this time it was Maggie Smith who was swathed in layers of floating chiffon.
Playing an actress fretfully facing down a night at the Oscars (and a husband, Michael Caine, with an eye for the boys), Smith herself needn't have worried. She won an Oscar herself for playing an Oscar candidate!
We now segue into The Diahann Carroll Wing for a quartet of pictures featuring her in various flowing gowns. First, she works this white number against an industrial setting.
Next we see her draping one of her dresses for a publicity shot.
She's gone all tropical for this hooty portrait.
Finally, in front of something that could only have occurred in the '70s, she belts out a number while decked out in layers of chiffon.
From there we enter The Joan Crawford Wing. Joan shows off a sizable train of bejeweled chiffon in this shot.
In this one, she lets her figure take center stage underneath the glitz.
A few years later, she is still utilizing the softly draping fabric to enhance a publicity portrait.
1949's Flamingo Road has her working as a cooch dancer in a carnival (and demonstrating the leg line that would become legendarily amusing in Torch Song a couple of years later in 1953.)
She was still working the chiffon in the late-1950s such as when she picked up this bolt of it and began to pose for some photos during an interview/shoot.
Then there is a nemesis of Joan's, Loretta Young, who dearly loved to gussy up in all sorts of frills, folds, ruffles and drapes, with chiffon part of the picture in several cases.
I'm not exactly a huge fan of Young's though I could never truly dislike anyone who had so much fun whirling in to host her popular television series The Loretta Young Show (1953-1961) decked out in one gown after another (many designed by Jean Louis, who she married in later life!)
I find that I especially like her in her middle-to-later years when an elegant serenity seemed to land over each photograph.
One can almost see her taking on the Jennifer Jones part in Inferno, had Jones opted not to take the role. Young hadn't made a film in twenty years by that time, though, and had exited the small screen a decade before as well, making a surprise return in the mid-to-late-'80s with two TV movies.
Probably my second favorite dress in this category after Faye's is the blue chiffon one that Grace Kelly wears in To Catch a Thief (1955.) Designed by Edith Head, the color perfectly compliments Kelly's coloring and gives her a regal air even before she became a princess in real life.
Just as lovely is the while sleeveless one she wears in the same movie, which is pitched to showcase the amazing jewelry around her neck, yet still has a wonderfully flowing bottom.
Also, I can't forget Capucine in Walk on the Wild Side (1960), whose goddess-y look seems to have inspired Towering Inferno designer Paul Zastupnevich when it came to Faye Dunaway.
Capucine's dress was by Pierre Balmain and she had modeled for him previously such as in this vintage shot with fabric flowing.
We don't see that much chiffon these days outside of bridesmaids' dresses. Sadly, most weddings don't have an accompanying wind machine to really play up the look properly...
Sometimes in a celebrity fashion show we'll get a welcome shot of some chiffon such as this occasion when our girl Joan Collins made her presence known on the runway.
(Of course Joan is sort of recalling Audrey Hepburn's triumphal gestures from 1957's Funny Face, but if you're gonna steal, steal from the best, right?!)
All any starlet has to do to get on my good side is show up at an awards ceremony with tall hair and a flowy gown! I still recall this glimpse of Kate Beckinsale years ago at the SAG Awards before I really even knew who she was.
I saved these last two photos for the end because they combine a couple of my favorite things: Ava Gardner and billowing fabric. From publicity for the 1956 film Bhowani Junction, the first one is lovely...
...but the second one is close to a culmination of all things I hold holy in the world! I have no words for how much I adore this shot of Miss Gardner! Thanks for walking down fetish lane with me this time out! Today is my own birthday, so this post is a sort of present to myself. :-) I'll be back soon. For now, I'm off to a convention for work that lasts for a few days.


joel65913 said...

Happy Birthday Poseidon! That's quite a collection of billowy luxury you've assembled.

Can't help but notice the similarity between that last picture of Ava and the expression on Faye's face in the roof collage of photos.

I love that Inger Stevens picture! The sleeves of her dress are very cool and she is of course beautiful. The picture of Lana Turner that immediately follows is also quite the confection but it doesn't really look like Lana. Glancing at it I thought it was another picture of Inger until I read the paragraph above it.

Dietrich knew how to work that wind machine better than almost anybody.

That first dress on Sharon Tate looks like it's getting ready to swallow her up, the second is okay but doesn't set off her looks as well as the dress she actually wears in the film so they made the right choice.

Stella Stevens, stunning!!

Again have wonderful birthday, thanks for all the terrific posts.

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

The first thing that came to mind when I saw this topic was Cyd Charisse's amazing billowing fabric in her dance with Gene Kelly in Singin' In The Rain. You know the shot with the horizontal stairs?

PS how do you know something is chiffon and not something else?

timerwolf700 said...

What about Joan's Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte costume test? http://paperspots.tumblr.com/post/23378370157/hush-hush-sweet-charlotte

NotFelixUnger said...

Happy Birthday and many returns of the day! And, may you never be without chiffon!

Narciso Duran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Narciso Duran said...

That is a lovely photo of Marilyn Maxwell. Like her nightclubbing companion Rock Hudson, I have always had a soft spot for her. She had a lovely singing voice and was a radio staple. And then there is Jane Fonda. Interesting you chose a photo of her from "Fun With Dick and Jane." I was only fifteen years old when that came out in 1977, and even I was shocked by the scene when Jane is sitting on the toilet taking a dump as she banters with screen husband George Segal. Method acting I guess. I even believe she wiped. It's been years since I have seen the film so I can't confirm, but it is seared into my memory. In any case, I'm sure it didn't help popcorn sales at the snack bar. By the way, the above "Comment deleted…removed by author" was me. I merely wanted to edit my post; Lord knows I don't like parading my ignorance through errors. And Happy Birthday!

Poseidon3 said...

Thanks, everyone for your reflections and remarks! Joel, I too noticed the similarity between Faye's and Ava's expressions in those photos. I love them! When I was in my twenties, I had a collage of expressions like that from disaster movies (Carol Lynley seeing the water creeping up in "Poseidon," Karen Black in "Airport 1975," etc...) and I loved it, but it began to seem a little weird (gee... I wonder why! LOL), so I disassembled it. I just loved these movies and people so much...

Dave, I know precious little about fabric and there are surely photos in this post that aren't chiffon (though most have at least some in the outfit.) To me, chiffon is light, somewhat see-through, gauzy fabric that wafts whenever the wearer movies. I love silk, too, in the right conditions. I tried to avoid calling things chiffon here if I suspected it might not be and just used the catch-all "fabric." Oh, and I do know that Cyd Charisse number and LOVE it!!

Good lord, Narciso! I only saw "Dick and Jane" on TV and wonder if the toilet scene was edited. No recall of it. But I do recall cackling at parts of the movie. It's always for sale in DVD bargain bins for $3.00 and I ought to pick it up sometime. I can cover my eyes during Jane's excretions. LOL

Beef said...

Love this post! And wow--Elizabeth Montgomery looks like a goddess in HER chiffon photo! (Also, belated "happy birthday"!)
Re: The "toilet scene" in "Fun With Dick and Jane": Jane does sit on the toilet at one point (and, um, wipes)--but she's actually relieving her bladder in the scene, not "taking a dump"! It was still quite surprising and odd in 1977!

Poseidon3 said...

Beef, I too loved that portrait of Ms. Montgomery! I came upon it during research on Bewitched's Alice Pearce and just had to be sure to include it in this post, even if her nightgown was mostly satin. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

A lot of people bitch about Paul Zastupnevich's Oscar nominations, but his costumes for The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno are memorable.
Happy Birthday!


Poseidon3 said...

I think what caused a lot of people to grouse about him is the fact that his costumes for The Swarm and When Time Ran Out were nominated when they were not very memorable. I still can't believe it is costumes for The Towering Inferno were not nominated while those other movies were.

Bruce Jackson said...

I only found this website because I was doing research on chiffon in the 1970s, but I ended up reading this entire post (and a couple that were linked within the body of the post) and I was completely fascinated! I've never thought of this material as anything special (I'm a guy, for one thing) but the way you speak of it and show examples was so charming and informative that I think I'm a convert. Thank you, Poseidon, for this post. I think I'll be coming back to this site and reading other entries. Really fun.

Poseidon3 said...

Bruce, I can't thank you enough for taking time to leave such a nice comment on this post! It did my heart good today. I'd love it if you came back and read though some more of Poseidon's Underworld. Otherwise, the nearly 600 posts I've done over the past seven years just sit around collecting dust! LOL I can't say I think you'd like ALL of them, but I dare say if you see a movie or person in the list of tags on the right that you enjoy, you might like reading more about those. I'm alerted to all comments, no matter the age of the post, so if you have more remarks or questions, fire away. Thanks, again!