Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fashion in Film - The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968

The original 1968 version of the film "The Thomas Crown Affair" is showing for free on Comcast On Demand this month. Be sure to check it out if you can! Faye Dunaway stars with Steve McQueen in this romp through Boston that involves McQueen playing a millionaire businessman who robs a bank for fun. Dunaway plays the insurance investigator out to get him, but things get tangled
when she falls in love with him. The fun comes in watching the two play cat-and-mouse with each other right up to the end of the film.

Theodora Van Runkle designed all of Dunaway's 29 costumes for the film. Van Runkle and Dunaway had worked together previously on "Bonnie and Clyde", a film that sparked a trend for 1930's style fashion in the late 60's. Van Runkle had received an Oscar nomination for her work on that film, her first of three.

Van Runkle's designs for Dunaway in "The Thomas Crown Affair" give her a sophisticated yet hip appearance. Most are mini dresses or suits, and Dunaway wears fabulous wide brim hats in many scenes. She carries small handbags, and wears big sunglasses that lend her an air of mystery.

Perhaps the best known scene in the film, and one of my all time favorites, is the one in which Dunaway and McQueen play a game of chess. When McQueen meets Dunaway for the evening, she is wearing a demure lilac coat with wide bell sleeves that buttons up the side and across to the collar.

After arriving at his home, she removes the coat to reveal a silky chiffon halter dress with several layers that float around her legs.

The dress was completely backless to the waist. Surprise, surprise!

The scene that ensues is one of delightfully extended foreplay that leads to one of the best and longest on screen kisses in film.

Faye Dunaway had received a nomination for Best Actress for her work in "Bonnie and Clyde" and Theodora Van Runkle designed the gown Faye Dunaway wore to the 1968 Oscars. She also designed Dunaway's complete off screen wardrobe at the time. Van Runkle went on to an illustrious career as costume designer for many films and received two more Oscar nominations for her work on "The Godfather, Part II" and "Peggy Sue Got Married".