Thursday, September 10, 2009

Louise Brooks tops TCM list of movies that created style trends

As New York Fashion Week kicks off , Turner Classic Movies has released a list of the network's favorite fashion trendsetting films.

Pandora's Box
- starring the one and only Louise Brooks - has topped the list of 15 "Fashion Trendsetting Classic Films." According to the TCM website, "Film has provided fashion inspiration for audiences and fashion designers alike; costumes not only help create a character, but can spur real-life trends and runway looks. In honor of Fashion Week and the far-reaching influence that film has had on our closets, we present 15 of our favorite fashion trendsetting movies." Pandora's Box (1929) was the earliest film, as well as the only silent film, on the list.

Brooks' look has had a substantial influence on fashion. The actress took the number one slot, however, not for the clothes she wore (though both Travis Banton and Poiret both dressed her) back in the day), but for her much copied hairstyle.

The TCM website noted "Louise Brooks once said, 'A well dressed woman, even though her purse is painfully empty, can conquer the world.' That could have been the motto of Lulu, the role that made her a fashion icon for the ages. Brooks had been wearing her famous Buster Brown haircut and dressing in the height of flapper fashion for years, as had many other actresses, but her sleek hairdo and half-naked beaded gowns were such a perfect match for the amoral charmer in Pandora's Box they remain one of the screen's most enduring images. The look would prove just as lucky for Cyd Charisse and Melanie Griffith, who copied it for their star-making roles in Singin' in the Rain and Something Wild, respectively. And in many countries the severe black bob that led critic Kenneth Tynan to call Brooks 'The Girl in the Black Helmet' is still referred to as 'the Lulu'."

Be sure and check out the entire list of trendsetting films at


  1. Loulou is benefitting from editors saying she "tops" a list that's arranged chronologically. More accurately, Brooks (or Pabst's film) heads it ... and might top the list if it were arranged by merit. Why? Why does this happen? "Louise Brooks is more than a Jazz Age icon, she's a drug that goes right to your brain." (Tynan -- hope I got it right)

    TCM will show Uncle Tom's Cabin, a big hit in the "annus mirabilis" (1927), tomorrow (Sunday) at midnight. They'll have Sherlock Jr. and Steamboat Bill Jr. on the evening of the 21st. And there'll be a 1986 Swedish documentary on Greta Garbo next Friday morning; two hours!

    Last month they had Red Skelton's The Show-Off, with Jacqueline White as Clara, at noon. White's final movie was The Narrow Margin (1952), a crime drama involving a train trip from Chicago to L.A. The station stop in La Junta, Colorado, would be familiar to Brooks ... the sassy female lead is compartment-bound à la Lulu on the train ... and it's an excellent DVD!

    P.S. Two events in Rochester tomorrow: In the morning, the annual Marathon, which passes by Brooks’s Goodman Street apartment building, the Cenacle convent, and George Eastman House in Mile 3; the site of her first apartment (Mile 4 and Mile 21 on the out-and-back course); and her room on Buckingham Street and sundry Park Avenue shopping spots (Mile 24). They should hang a Cinémathèque française-sized portrait of Lulu over the course!

    Tomorrow evening at the Dryden Theatre, "James Card Memorial Lecture 2009". Says the Calendar: "Ed Stratmann presents 'Rochester on Film' (90 minutes). This fun and fascinating program will offer more than a glimpse of Rochester’s past as we screen rare 16mm and 35mm film ... footage of the 1934 city centennial celebrations; the Coburg Ferry to Canada; Rochester’s earliest baseball team; War Industries campaign films; silent movie stars visiting our city, and more! Ed Stratmann, Associate Curator in charge of Film Preservation at George Eastman House, is your guide through this year’s edition of our annual presentation named in honor of the first Curator of Eastman House’s motion picture collections. | Live piano by Philip C. Carli."


  3. Louise is such a beautiful and intriguing actress. It is amazing how some possess such "power" that they reach out to people long after their deaths. Your dedication to her research is very impressive and much appreciated!


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