Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Here there and everywhere
Its known that during the silent film era actors and actresses were sometimes called upon to supply their own wardrobe.
That was the case with Louise Brooks. In a filmed interview later in her life, Brooks recounted how during the making of Pandora's Box (1929) director G.W. Pabst asked her to wear one of her new dresses which he had deliberately wrecked (soiled in oil) in order that the actress feel badly wearing it.
The other day, I was looking through some images when I noticed a couple of scene stills of Louise Brooks - each from different films - wearing the same dress. "Hazaa," I thought, "perhaps this dress belonged to the actress." Never before, in all of my looking at pictures of Louise Brooks, had I noticed this coincidence. (But then as "a guy," I am not one to notice fashion.)
The first image (above) is from German-made The Diary of a Lost Girl (1929). It was directed by G.W. Pabst. The film was in production between June 17th and July 26th, 1929. The second image (right) is from the French-made Prix de Beaute (1930). It was directed by Augusto Genina, and was in production between August 29 and September 27, 1929. To my eyes, Louise Brooks wears the same dress in each image. Brooks also wears this dress in the short film of the actress projected at the end of Prix de Beaute.
I got to wonder about that dress. And looked a little further.
My wife is a fashion historian, and owns a considerable number of books on the subject. One I pulled off the shelf was on Jean Patou, one of Europe's most important designers of the inter-war period. I flipped through the book hoping to find something. And there I uncovered another image of the actress wearing that same dress! Hazaa again! The book describes it as a figured bronze lame dress, and notes that Patou created it for Brooks at the time she was making Pandora's Box. (This book also notes that Brooks had attended a fashion show at the designer's salon.)
I figure Louise Brooks must have really liked that dress to have worn it as much as she did. Here is that last image. Brooks is wearing a matching jacket trimmed with fox fur.
Copyright thomas gladysz / Louise Brooks Society
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