Tag Archives: Greta Garbo

Turban Power 2

This winter I’ve had great use out of my my fabulous ASOS turban, a style of headgear I’ve hankered after for years – after seeing it being worn in many a 1940s movie, by the likes of Ann Sheridan and the sultry Hedy Lamarr (above).  The style was in and out of fashion from the 1920s onwards – and Hedy’s white, 1940s version contrasts beautifully with her jet black hair. I’m not sure that Greta Garbo’s (below) works as well: it looks a little like a post-brain surgery bandage ..

It wasn’t just the exotic beauties who made the turban chic in Hollywood; homegrown, all-American actresses worked the look too. Here’s the elegant and always tasteful Loretta Young pushing the boat out with an uncharacteristically OTT variation on the turban theme. Substitute some fruit for those flowers and you’re halfway to Carmen Miranda-style understatement!

And talking of understatement (not!), few actresses of our time offset instances of good taste with those of bad as blatantly as the late Elizabeth Taylor, pictured here in the sort of turban that normal people could only wear to a wedding..

Lee Remick’s blue turban in The Omen was one of the few style highlights of the movie – though her character paid a price for it ..

And those jazz divas knew a chic trick (saves washing the hair) when they saw one. In my last turban round-up, I featured Lena Horne, but she wasn’t the first jazz star to adopt the style: here’s Billie Holiday, offsetting the turban with a mannish suit, alongside one of the most stylish men in jazz – Duke Ellington (left).

1 Comment

Filed under Style

Great Movie Hats of the 1930s

I grew up on a diet of old movies and I love to style-watch them – to play at spot the fabulous frock or the ace accessory. Recently I’ve been a bit obsessed with some of the ridiculous – but wonderful – hats that popped up in 1930s films. And they don’t come much more wonderfully ridiculous than Greta Garbo’s in the 1939 comedy Ninotchka.

The Ninotchka hat was much more than a fashion accessory; it was symbolic of the fact that its wearer had succumbed to the romance of Paris and was shaking off the shackles of communism…. Irene Dunne’s crazy black heatgear in the priceless 1937 screwball comedy The Awful Truth, on the other hand, was representative of nothing more than high fashion – though her newly ex-husband (Cary Grant) doesn’t look convinced…

Cary Grant looks much more at ease in the next picture, from the 1938 romantic comedy-drama, Holiday – maybe because he’s just resigned himself to the fact that he’s outnumbered (by Doris Nolan, left, and Katharine Hepburn) on the silly hat front..

I don’t know if Linda Darnell wore this next hat in a movie, but, given that it seems to be Saturn-inspired in design, it’s way ahead of its time: after all, the sci-fi movie genre didn’t take off until the 1950s!

Similarly, I don’t recall ever seeing Ginger Rogers wearing this next natty hat – by celebrated hat designer Lily Dache – in any of her 1930s films. Maybe the stars circling the pointy peak of the hat was too much like Paramount Studios’ logo for RKO’s (her home studio’s) liking..

And finally, my favourite daft hat of the 1930s – worn, as only she could, by the inimitable Rosalind Russell (pictured here with Joan Crawford) in the gloriously funny and stylish 1939 movie The Women..

2 Comments

Filed under Style

Viva Biba

Designer Barbara Hulanicki may be in her seventies but – with her shaggy peroxide blonde bob, dark glasses and black jacket, jeans and boots combo – she looks like a rock star; which is appropriate as she is treated with the same reverence as a pop icon.

The woman behind the legendary fashion emporium Biba is now the subject of a documentary which, when it was recently shown at the Glasgow Film Theatre, proved to be a magnet for anyone interested in fashion. The scenes at her post-screening book-signing session were what you’d expect at the stage door after a pop concert.

No wonder Hulanicki drew an impressive crowd: Biba  is still a huge influence on today’s fashion – not only in terms of its look, which drew on the styles of the past while setting new trends – but also in its ethos of “disposable fashion”, which paved the way for today’s High Street shops. Barbara explains: “The idea was to buy things and then, when you were done with them, give them to someone else. Everything was £3.”

Biba began life as a mail order catalogue in 1964 and by 1969, the shop was the second most popular tourist spot in the capital (only the Tower of London attracted more visitors). “People would travel from all over the country every Saturday, because the fares were so inexpensive,” says Hulanicki. “There was a sort of club atmosphere about the shop – lots of people who went on to get married originally met there.”

During its heyday, Biba was to fashion what the Beatles were to pop music. It was also a mecca for the coolest celebrities of the day. Hulanicki recalls: “Anybody who was anybody at that time – whatever country they were from – would come in. Brigitte Bardot, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithful … Barbra Streisand came in when she was pregnant. She went into the (communal) changing room with her great big belly, and took all her clothes off. But you know the girls in the shop were so blase about celebrities that I used to have to beg them for information on who had been in!”

As a student, Hulanicki’s style was very heavily influenced by two movie stars of the 1950s – Grace Kelly and, in particular, Audrey Hepburn. “Her style was just magic,” she gasps. “She was very simple and always wore black.” So, did she ever pop into Biba when she fancied a day-off from her Givenchy wardrobe? “No, but I heard she bought some of our clothes. Somebody told me that she actually said that the only place that fitted her shape was Biba. I was so thrilled! Of course, she was already quite old then…. she was 28!”

As Hulanicki moved on to her Biba period, she fell under the spell of movie stars of an earlier era: Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, neither of whom would have looked out of place lounging around in the decadent art deco fabulousness of the most famous of the Biba stores, all of which were designed inkeeping with their architecture.

Hulanicki walked away from Biba in 1976 after a prolonged period of difficulties with her new business partners. She and her late husband, who had worked with her at Biba, lived in Brazil for a while but, in 1987, wound up in Miami, a city which captured Hulanicki’s imagination – thanks, largely, to its once-glorious Art Deco architecture which she has helped to conserve. Over the last 20 years, she has worked as an interior designer, designing Miami Beach night clubs for the likes of Ronnie Wood and Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

Is she surprised by the ongoing, worldwide fascination with a shop that closed its doors over 30 years ago? “Isn’t it bizarre,” she says. “It keeps growing and growing. My son says that I get rediscovered every two years. It goes quiet then it starts again.” Of course, part of the reason for this is that the coolest, hippest celebrities all seem to own some vintage Biba.

Which of today’s famous fans does she think wears it well? “I love Kate Moss. I love all the bad girls – Amy etc. Everybody seems to collect this stuff, which is interesting – and very nice. But it’s strange because it started out as throwaway fashion!”

* Beyond Biba (November Films; £35) comes out as a special, limited edition (only 1000 copies) DVD on December 7 from http://www.beyondbibamovie.com. The standard edition of the DVD will be in shops in the New Year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Style