Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Today’s blog was "inspired" by Michael Musto's recent feature in the The Village Voice

Please keep in mind that, in many cases, the stellar performance of the particular lady who just happens to be wearing the frock in question was taken into account -- with the obvious exception of Number 7!

10. Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950):
Designed by Edith Head, Norma’s final look is as the titular character in her doomed comeback, “Salome.”  Having murdered her much-younger gigolo lover, police pretend they are shooting a movie to lure the bonkers has-been down the stairs and into a waiting squad car.  This costume is gorgeous -- simultaneously bohemian, exotic and glamorous.  Add a few body sequins to catch the light and Norma is indeed ready for her close-up!

9. The Stepford Wives in THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975)
Designed by Anna Hill Johnstone, these floor-length floral monstrosities with floppy picture hats are equal parts "Little House on the Prairie" and Holly Hobbie.  When director Bryan Forbes cast his wife Nanette Newman (NOT a twentysomething and NOT a size 2) in the role of Carol Van Sant ("I'll just DIE if I don't get this recipe!"), the Stepford Wife look promptly shifted from Playboy Bunny perfection to Victorian virtue complete with white gloves.  The final scene features The Wives exchanging pleasantries while gliding their gleaming shopping carts through a temperature-controlled supermarket as horrible muzak plays.  Chilling.

8. Celeste Holm as Karen Richards in ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
Costumes by Charles LeMaire (NOTE: Edith Head only did Bette Davis’ costumes).  Although the film (and all stills) are in black and white, I imagine this gorgeous dress to be an orangey Oriental red.  I love the vaguely Mandarin bejeweled bodice and the tiered crepe skirt.  A big-city, mid-century, shamelessly beautiful upper middle class white lady’s idea of “exotic!” (By the way, in case you are a complete idiot who has never seen this movie, that's Celeste below, on the right!)

7. Raquel Welch as Loana in 1 MILLION YEARS BC (1966)
Designed by Carl Toms.  Sometimes less is more.  Proof that people are born gay (because any little boy -- or girl for that matter -- who sees THIS growing up and still wants to sleep with men is clearly hard-wired that way!)

6. Sean Young as Rachael in BLADE RUNNER (1982)
Costumes by Michael Kaplan and Charles Knode. The past and the future collide in this breathtaking outfit that screams “Joan Crawford was a robot!”  On a personal note, I cannot think of anything more sad than suddenly realizing that you are indeed merely a machine.  Or NOT realizing it, which explains my obsession with “The Stepford Wives.”  Ignorance may be bliss, but I would actually prefer to be occasionally unhappy --  and human.

5. Elizabeth Taylor as Angela Vickers in A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951)
An obvious choice, designed by the sunglass-sporting queen of the tweed pencil skirts, Edith Head.  This stunning creation was reportedly one of the most knocked-off designs in the history of all movie gowns.  A vision in white, La Liz succeeded in being the complete antithesis of dowdy, frumpy, whiny AND pregnant Shelley Winters.  A look to KILL for -- well, at least Montgomery Clift’s character thought so!

4. Jane Fonda as Barbarella in BARBARELLA (1968)
Designed by Jacques Fonteray and Paco Rabanne (credited as Paco Rabane).  I adore the 1960’s interpretation of the future.  Space age sex kitten, these boots were made for walkin’ -- on the moon!  This look -- and all the others Ms. Fonda rocked in this amazing film -- are, quite literally, “out of this world” and “far out!”

3. Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson in THE GRADUATE (1967)
Designed by Patricia Zipprodt.  The original cougar was obviously a leopard!  That iconic swing coat with matching pillbox hat made it very clear that Mrs. Robinson was a carnivore on the hunt!  When she removes the animal pelt to reveal a still-sexy body in a black bra and half slip, you know it’s all over for poor Benjamin.  And don’t even get me started on those streaks of caramel in her coffee-colored hair...  Me-ouch!

2. Sissy Spacek as Carrie White in CARRIE (1976)
Designed by Rosanna Norton.  Simple enough to showcase the ugly duckling’s true beauty, this dress is like a blank canvas on which DePalma will splatter his best Jackson Pollock Rorschach.  In the DVD extras actress Piper Laurie who played Carrie’s mother, Margaret, explained that the dress was supposed to be red, but pink looked better against Sissy Spacek’s skin.  When she first said the line, “Red. I might’ve know it would be red”  the script supervisor immediately pointed out the mistake, but Piper refused to change the line, realizing that to her religious character, the dress was indeed Jezebel red.  Brilliant.  And brilliant foreshadowing too, since the dress does eventually become the reddest of reds at the ill-fated prom.

1. Pamela Sue Martin as Susan Shelby in THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972)
Designed by Paul Zastupnevich.  Speaking of red... I am red with rage that more photos of this vermillion high-waisted maxi skirt and whiter-than-white blouse with super-poof sleeves do not exist online!  I adore how this voluminous skirt looked and sounded as Pamela’s character jumped from a table (now on the ceiling!) into a makeshift safety net fashioned from hideous harvest gold cruise ship draperies.  And when it came time to climb up the enormous metal Christmas tree and she was matter-of-factly told (by a preacher in a turtleneck, no less!), “You can’t climb in that long skirt” -- without missing a beat she ripped it off with the flair of a matador, revealing a pair of skintight matching short shorts.  I actually let out a nelly little gasp in the movie theater in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Needless to say, this was the EXACT moment I knew that I was gay.  The shorts were up for auction a few years ago and, sadly, my $500 bid was not enough to win them.  (Even crazy has a budget, honey!)


  1. Sebastian Cabot LodgeFebruary 8, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Love your choices and love that Pamela Sue was #1.

  2. my favorite movie fashions include: helen slater 'legend of billie jean', michelle pfeiffer 'ladyhawke'[even looks incredible in burlap], guy pearce 'the adventures of priscilla: queen of the desert'[oscar winning], dolly parton 'steel magnolias'['there is no such thing as natural beauty.'], brad pitt 'fight club', and then the ugliest movie clothes [in the best movie] charlize theron 'monster'. p.s. i finally saw 'carrie' last week, and like piper, i wished more of the actual book was in it.

  3. I have a few of Pam in wardrobe tests, shoulda asked. LEMONS

  4. Paco Rabanne, baby! The greatest designer in history.

  5. You Rock!!!!!!! Loved Sean Youngs coiffe in Blade Runner and I kid you the fuck not...I got a few leopard print coats and a matching fidora because of Misses Robinson...I have that dvd and yes, she was the first Amazing Cougar of her time! I even got a tacky Spy Style Lengthy Plastic Rain Coat in Leopard print from the early 70's!!!!