George Hurrell's legendary photo of Jean Harlow on a bearskin rug is the iconic image of the female animal.
In last week’s Friday Fashion post we observed that designers frequently clothe women utilizing fur, feathers and animal patterns.
For as long as fashion has existed, animal metaphors have been an indispensible part of the designer’s lexicon. Hollywood, during its golden age, a leading arbiter of taste, heightened and refined the animal analogy with brilliant costume designers turning ravishing movie stars into expressions of animal desire.
Joan Bennett in the 1930's looks like a bird with ruffled feathers. As an ingenue Joan was just another beautiful blonde, her natural color. But her career took off when she turned into a brunette and gained megastardom as a femme fatale in two Fritz Lang classics: “The Woman in the Window” (1944) and “Scarlet Street” (1945). Our favorite Joan Bennett movie is “The Reckless Moment” (1949) opposite James Mason.
Joan's older sister Constance Bennet directs some of her animal heat towards Clark Gable in “After Office Hours” (1935). Costumes by Adrian.
Marlene Dietrich rocks a hat that makes her look like a some unnamed species of bird ready to take flight.
Lupe Velez came to Hollywood as a sexy Latina. In fact, the gifted but tragic—she committed suicide while pregnant—Mexican actress was a wonderful comedienne. Here, wrapped in fur, photographer George Hurrell once again extends the animal metaphor.
In “Joy of Living” (1938) Irene Dunne wears a leopard accented outfit that projects a witty, slightly wicked demeanor. Costumes by Robert Kalloch and Edward Stevenson.
Milliner gone wild. Ava Gardner as a bird of prey in repose.
An effort to turn Martha Hyer into a sexy symbol fails miserably. Hyer was always a perfect lady who projected classic beauty, breeding and brains. In her autobiography “Finding My Way” (1990) Hyer chronicles her harrowing descent into debt to low-life loan sharks.
Gene Tierney in a leopard print skirt. She looks ready to go to a high school dance. Like Hyer, Tierney transcends the animal print.
Karen, Mrs. Seraphic Secret, favors a leopard print skirt that is modest and just plain cute.
Karen and I wish all our friends and relatives a lovely and fashionable Shabbat.