Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Star Wear

I have always been a rag hag.  No, that is not a typo.  I was the other kind too, but before that, I was a rag hag. I have always loved
clothes. I love fashion, design, period clothes, fabrics and trims.  And don't forget the accessories! Shoes, hats, bags, jewelry!
I still remember favorites from childhood.  The little halter crop tops, with the ruffle around the neckline and shoulders. The shorts with the rockets and planets on them.  The dress with the strawberries.  And I could go on and on about the cute little mini skirts and Mod numbers I wore as a teen.
I loved dressing my dolls, the baby dolls and Barbies alike, and the more accessories the better! I designed clothes for my paper dolls.
My mother was a beautiful seamstress.  She made look-a-like outfits for me and my three sisters every holiday. We looked like little dolls.  She taught me to sew, and I made doll clothes.  Later, I designed and sewed my own one of a kind fashions.
It seemed only natural, that one of my many jobs I had to supplement my movie and tv work was at a Hollywood costume house.  The premiere Hollywood Costume House, Palace Costume.  The owner, Melody, had been collecting for years. Her impeccable collection of vintage clothes from the 1900's, to the 50's, 60', and 70's is in constant use in movies and tv shows. We who worked there, were in charge of it all. The Gown Room, The Depression Collection, The Victorian Whites, The Men's Room, the Jewelry Room, The Children's Room.  Each day, there would be something that needed to be done in one department or another. From pulling clothes for a period movie, to putting it all away when it came back in.  Repairing, steaming wrinkles, and keeping it all orderly.  Sometimes it was hard work, like moving racks of clothes around re-arranging departments, or digging in barrels of shoes to find the right pair. But all those clothes! The periods!  The styles!  The fabric, the prints and the patterns!  Looking at all those clothes,and thinking back on all those time periods and how things were, was always enjoyable to me.
Sometimes, stars would come in for fittings with the costumers. We decked out Bette Midler in vintage finery for a magazine photo shoot.  Martin Sheen came in reeking of booze.  We had to tell David Bowie he couldn't smoke in the Gown Room!
Everyone who worked there was into clothes.  We would buy and collect, and look for things for the shop.   Melody was always buying.  Sometimes, when my closets would get a little too packed, or I could use a few extra bucks, I would sell some things to Melody.  My clothes funded my first trip to Europe!  (Where I met up with Melody in Paris!)  Sometimes, I was a little sorry when I sold something.  I would see it in the shop, and think, "I want that back".  But, hey, Europe was calling!
All these clothes, in all these movies!  I started to recognize some of the clothes from the shop in movies.  Some of them used to be mine.
The first time it happened, I was watching "Rush" with Jennifer Jason Leigh, about an undercover drug agent who became addicted.  I suddenly gasped in recognition.  Hey, she's wearing my skirt!  I had collected men's ties from the 30's and 40's, for years.  When you could still find them for 50c and $1.  Autumn colors, gold, red, orange brown, yellow, with great deco designs.  When I finally got enough, I split them open,and sewed them all together into a skirt.  It was a really great unique piece.  I missed it.  After that first stab of recognition, I thought it was pretty cool.  Something of mine, that I made was being worn by a star in a movie!  She probably thought it was cool.
It happened a couple more times.  In the movie, "Hollywoodland", about the tv Superman, Diane Lane is wearing a sweater my aunt had given to me. Soft pink cashmere, with  black lace insets at the bandeau neckline, and 3/4 length sleeves.  Hey!  She's got my sweater on!  So pretty.  Why did I sell that!?
The third time, I was watching the tv movie, "Temple Grandin". Claire Danes plays the autistic woman who developed a more humane procedure to slaughter cattle.  She was known for her decorative cowboy shirts.
I had a really nice brown one.  Wool gabardine, with piping, embroidery, and applique cowboys on it.  I wore it with a brown leather mini skirt and cowboy boots.  So, I'm watching this tv movie, and she's wearing one cool cowboy shirt after another, and then, "Oh my god!  She's wearing my cowboy shirt!"  Oh, that was a nice one.  Guess I wasn't into brown anymore.
As much as I miss some of my old clothes, like a long lost friend, it was kind of fun to see them being worn by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Diane Lane, and Claire Danes in the movies.
My clothes got better gigs than I did.