Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fashion in Film - De-Lovely

The 2004 film De-Lovely is showing this month for free on Comcast On Demand, and if you enjoy vintage fashion in film, this is a must see. The movie chronicles the career of Cole Porter, played by Kevin Kline, and his marriage to Linda Lee Porter, played by Ashley Judd. The film did not get great reviews, and takes license with some historical facts, but it is worth seeing for the costumes alone. As a fan of vintage fashion, is there any other reason to see a movie?

Costume designer Janty Yates said of this film, "The right costumes were essential to 'De-Lovely.' . . . No one could be seen in the same thing twice, because the Porters wouldn't have done it." Kline wore 38 separate costumes and Judd had 48. Yates also had the task of dressing 1,200 extras in period costume for the film. She did use some authentic vintage pieces, but she also asked Giorgio Armani to design some of the important costumes, including Linda's cream satin wedding gown.

During the 1930's, Linda Porter became a fashion icon. "Whatever Linda Porter was wearing, that was the dress you had to get, if you could find it and afford it." Her simple, elegant looks were trendsetters of the time. Both of the Porters were very much into fashion. When they traveled by train, an entire car was required for their clothing and jewelry.

Speaking of jewelry, the Porters played a key role in the career of Fulco di Verdura by helping him secure a position with Chanel in Paris and later encouraging him to open his first store in New York. Verdura designed all the jeweled cigarette cases that Linda gave to Cole on the opening nights of his shows. Several authentic Verdura pieces are used in the film, and Chanel loaned the double comet necklace that Judd wears in the wedding scene. You'll have to watch the film to get a look at it, but I can assure you, you'll be glad you did! The necklace shown above was designed for Linda Porter and was on loan to The Wertz Gallery in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA as part of their Luxe Life: Masterpieces of American Jewelry exhibit in 2007.