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16 July, 2013

to catch a thief: the french riviera, part 1

Some of the best costume designers out there these days are in my opinion Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina; Atonement; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and Colleen Atwood (Chicago, Alice in Wonderland).

However, back in the days of ye olde Hollywood glamour Edith Head was both of these costume designers combined, and more. She was the costume designer - none other need apply. Winning eight Academy Awards, more than any other woman ever. (With 35 nominations, she also leads the most nominated category.)

Amongst others (Rear Window, Sabrina, Roman Holiday a.k.a. all those fashion favorites) she was responsible for Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief.

Plot summary for those of you who didn't receive this on DVD on their 16th birthday because they weren't a precocious movie buff:
"When a reformed jewel thief (Cary Grant) is suspected of returning to his former occupation, he must ferret out the real thief in order to prove his innocence." (x) Scene of the crime: The south of France.

The guys who walked out with a whole safe of Chopard jewellery worth $1 million at the Cannes Film Festival say hello. Not that the people at Chopard cared: “We have plenty of insurance. It’s great publicity. It’s no big deal.” (x)

Back to the clothes in the movie, however.
Cary Grant wore his own clothes in this movie, as he did in most of his movies.
I think it's safe to say that not a lot of man would get away with a red/white dotted foulard tied around their neck, but, of course, CG somehow does.
And don't the loafers just look like they were made of the supplest leather from here to Milan?
(Tailor-made for Grant by Maxwell's on Dover Street in London.)
Anyway, A+ for appropriate French Riviera attire.

The general feeling of this look reminds me somewhat of the brilliant Hermès Spring/Summer 2014 men's collection.

"You are a man of obvious good taste in everything. Why did you..."
"Why did I take up stealing? To live better, to own things I couldn't afford, to acquire this good taste that you now enjoy and which I should be very reluctant to give up."

With the glacial blue débutante dress Grace Kelly wears in only her second scene, quite some time into the movie, Edith Head was referencing Dior's New Look, which kissed goodbye to the 'make do and mend' mentality of WWII and once again embraced busts and voluminous skirts. (x) It seems to me, however, that the dress with its Grecian roots bears much more of a resemblance to the designs of Madame Grès

In any case, the dress sets up Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly) in just one shot: here's someone made of money & not afraid to talk about it. A little bit spoiled, a little detached, but maturer than all the other minxes traipsing around the Riviera and trying to hook their claws into John Robie (Cary Grant). Mind you, despite her mother's preference of cuddling up with her jewellery in bed, Frances is initially seen as wearing no jewellery whatsoever. (A hint as to the real thief?) Only her coiled updo reveals her slender neck and straight posture.

"And so to bed, where I can cuddle up to my jewellery."

While the scarf here is a wonderful addition to the outfit, a little less tan wouldn't have hurt. 

In case you are an oil heiress: here's what to wear to the beach.

"You're here in Europe to buy a husband."
"The man I want doesn't have a price."
"That eliminates me."

[In reference to a beautiful villa they are visiting
"Why don't you own a place like this?"
"Palaces are for royalty. We're just common people with a bank account."

Wearing driving gloves these days is sadly about as pretentious as using a cigarette holder. (Can cigarette holders come back in style, please? Would be wonderful if my fingers didn't smell quite so bad whenever I smoke the occasional cigarette. Plus, it classes up inhaling cancer a whole lot.)

And with a heartfelt apology to Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant considered Grace Kelly his favorite female co-star. "I always went to work whistling." (x) Of course, if my day included sharing lunch with Grace Kelly overlooking Monaco, I would as well.

Part 2 to follow.

5 Kommentarer:

Jahncie Cook

omg thank you for this! This is one of my favorite movies, the plot is great and the fashion makes it even better! Would you ever think about making this a regular post?? you did say you were a movie buff ;)


Glad you like the post! :) And yes, I'm definitely planning on making this a regular thing. Thanks for your comment!


thanks for sharing her work with us! i cant believe ive watched all those films and not know who she was!

Lindsay K

Well done on this post!

Edith Head was phenomenal. Have you read "How to Dress for Success"- her sketches are amazing.

Love the little driving gloves in this film. I love how gesturing with a glove could convey so many things back then.


@Joy: Yeah, I didn't know how incredible she was before either. Glad I did the research! :)

@Lindsay K: No, I haven't, but I've looked it up & might have to buy it some time in the future. Gloves are super chic. Sadly, in this day and age it would just seem affected :/

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