classic film photography

Dressed: Hollywood Glamour

I’m back in London after a wonderful, photo-filled stay in California. I was so glad to see my friends and family back home, and over the next few days I’ll be sharing some of the many photos I took. About a month ago, I posted some pictures from a sort-of vintage-esque photoshoot I did in London. Well, this past Sunday I had the most amazing opportunity to revisit the past and do a photoshoot wearing authentic old Hollywood costumes and gowns worn by some of my favorite classic film stars!

The costumes belong to collector and historian Greg Schreiner. Greg is the president of Marilyn Remembered, the longest-running Marilyn Monroe fan club, pianist, narrator and producer of Hollywood Revisited, Curator of Special Collections at the Hollywood Museum located in the old Max Factor building on Hollywood and Highland (where many of his costumes are on display), and he happens to be my friend Jay’s next-door neighbor. On Sunday, Jay and I went over and did a little photoshoot. It wasn’t professionally lit or anything (although, Jay is a professional photographer and a very good one at that), but it was a lot of fun!

Greg has some amazing costumes that were once worn by everyone from Judy Garland to Rita Hayworth, Stewart Granger to Barbara Streisand (no Vivien Leigh, sadly, although I doubt I could have fit into that anyway). We went for the old Hollywood glamour look. I tried to be really careful with these gems because some of them, particularly the Rita Hayworth robe, are pretty delicate and have suffered from age.

I did my own hair and make-up, and don’t think it turned out as well as it might have if someone else had done it, but c’est la vie.

Make-up:

  • Foundation, powder, blush and lipstick | MAC (lipstick is Ruby Woo)
  • Eyeshadow | Naked by Urban Decay
  • Eyeliner and Mascara | Revlon
  • A gorgeous black beaded robe from Blood and Sand (1941), designed by Travis Banton, worn by Rita Hayworth
  • The brown silk and fur-trimmed gown designed by Edith Head and worn by Bette Davis in All About Eve (1950)
  • A white silk dress with fur stole and white gloves worn by Rebecca de Mornay to an awards show in the 80s–but it’s really gorgeous
  • A red dress designed by Edith Head and worn by Hedy Lamarr
  • A silver gown designed by Albert Wolsky and worn by Anne Bancroft in the remake of To Be or Not to Be (oh, to have worn an original Carole Lombard gown!)

I have to say, the actresses of classic Hollywood make things looks effortless on screen. Some of these gowns, particularly the Bette Davis one, are really heavy. I can imagine bright klieg lights making a film set sweat city, but these ladies not only wore them around for hours on end, they also moved gracefully. And to let you all in on a little secret: I am proportionally larger than many of these actresses. Rita Hayworth comes closest in height and measurements.

I wish I could do this sort of thing all the time! In reality, I’m really casual with my wardrobe and prefer a more natural look make-up-wise, but I love getting glammed up on occasion!

Kendra has been the weblady at vivandlarry.com since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

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Comments (13)

  1. You’re so slim, I can’t imagine how tiny these actresses must have been! Eeeek! The ‘All About Eve’ dress! What an exciting afternoon you must have had Kendra! Lovely photos.

    1. Bette Davis was apparently only 5’3″ :S They had small waists! I had to really suck in for the belt on the Hedy Lamarr gown to buckle in back.

    1. Thanks! It’s quite amazing because when watching these films I’ve never really considered the costume to be something he actor had to contend with

  2. That’s really AWESOME, Kendra!! So cool you had this opportunity!!! It’s interesting what you said about the weight of the gowns, the poor gals :) Thanks for sharing this experience.

  3. This is a great post – details we never would have known otherwise. Thanks for giving these gowns another chance to see the light of day!!

  4. How absolutely amazing to have the opportunity to model those gowns! The Rebecca de Mornay gown picture is fabulous! You definitely look old Hollywood :)

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