Leaning boards ( also called Slant boards) were invented for Hollywood players to relax between takes. Frequently, the costumes were cut on the bias, and tailored so snugly that the actor could not sit without bursting a ladder of seams. In fact, most of the time, there were no zippers or buttons on the costumes. Actors were stitched into their garments.
When you see Jean Harlow in Dinner at Eight, and marvel at the impeccable fit of the famous white silk gown, be aware that Harlow’s mobility was severely limited. In fact, just breathing was something of a chore.
Remember, classic Hollywood movies were designed to project images of glamour. For the screen, costumes had to be photogenic. Comfort and practicality were of little concern.
These days, leaning boards are still in use, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
Helen Rose was one of Hollywood’s most important costume designers.
Seraphic Secret has authored several posts about Rose. In June 2010, we wrote about Rose’s not-so-nice Jewish boyfriend. If you have not read this post, you should. The identity reveal at the end will take your breath away.
In another post, with the help of genealogist Kathy Soto, we unravel Rose’s Jewish roots. We also chronicle an episode of costume craziness between Rose and Jane Fonda.
In April 2011, we wrote about the stunning wedding gown Helen Rose designed for Grace Kelly.