Inspirational Reading

I’ve been reading through David Chierichettis’ biography of Edith Head.  It’s an interesting read about a very private woman, but what I’m taking away from it are two sewing-related items.


The first is to do with Audrey Hepburn’s sheath dresses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and here’s a quote from the book:

The Givenchy sheaths seem simple to the eye, but Renie conley found out otherwise when she saw Head and Hepburn cooking up some more phony Givenchys in other fabrics at Western Costume after Breakfast at Tiffany’s finished shooting.  “They had taken one of the dresses apart to copy it, and it was full of horsehair stuffing and lead weights to make it fall a certain way,” she remembered.

Really?  Horsehair stuffing and lead weights to make a sheath dress hang the desired way?  I have a LOT to learn about dressmaking.

diamants sur canapé

And the second was how she costumed Bette Davis, who apparently was a bit of a nightmare to clothe because of the “several serious problems: bowed legs, very round shoulders, and a long broad neck.  Worst of all were her breasts, which hung almost to her waist.  She refused to wear brassieres with underwires because she thought that the wire would cause breast cancer.” (p. 86)

The 1950 film "All about Eve" received a record 14 Academy Award® nominations, breaking the previous record of 13 nominations held by "Gone with the Wind" since 1939.  Shown here in a scene still from the film are (left to right): Anne Baxter, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe and George Sanders. Restored by Nick & jane for Dr. Macro's High Quality Movie Scans Website: Enjoy!

This was very interesting to read, because I’ve never particularly noticed any “flaws” per se when watching a Bette Davis film.  And yet all these things were beautifully made to disappear with the right design elements in her costumes.*

Bette Davis White Dress

Now, of course most of this is not news to anyone who has done the smallest amount of reading or looking or what have you when it comes to fashion.  Dress to maximize your good points is what we’re supposed to do.  And where I get stymied for the most part.  It’s a lesson to look at all the photos of oneself wearing whatever it is one wears.  Some things look amazing and others look dreadful.  And yet others can be made to look wonderful with the right bit of photography!

I make a lot of things that don’t fit perfectly, and my one and only goal this year is to do just that:  take the time and make the effort to ensure the best possible fit.  Oh, and only shop my stash!

*This photo is scanned from David Chierichetti’s book – no copyright infringement intended!  It’s the perfect photo so show the perfect fit of Davis’ dress!


6 thoughts on “Inspirational Reading

  1. It sounds like an very interesting book. Since I have attended several fitting classes in recent years, I now look at movie stars and see that they have figure challenges just like us lesser mortals. But they have “people” to choose or alter clothing to disguise figure issues.

  2. It reminds me of an interview Bette Davis did on the Oprah show years ago. She said she would stand hunched over to downplay her big boobs, plus she had extra big shoulder pads, also to help hide them. Funny, I never thought they were big. I’ll have to get this book!

  3. Fascinating post! It’s good to know that a lot of work goes into making screen goddesses look good.
    Fitting is always a challenge for me. So, I share your goal, to try to keep improving in this area of sewing.

  4. I’ve read that book and loved it! But then I’m a huge fan of Edith Head and the costume designers from the movie studio system. They had absolute control over what appeared on film and the actresses who wore the outfits. And the clothes…think about any old movie you’ve seen and how well dressed, well fitted, well coiffed, and well accessorized the women were.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s