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LeMaire and aids turn out a rush glamour job
BY DON EDDY
Material is scarce, so
movie stars are gowned
in every thing from lace
tablecloths to curtains
One day this summer, a young
woman rushed mto a smart
shop in Los Angeles, Calif., se
lected four fancy lace tablecloths
costing $975.40 and ordered casu
ally, “Wrap them, please
The salesgirl couldn’t help ask
ing: “W’hat on earth will you do
with four of them?"
“Cut them up,” explained the
customer brightly. “I just love to
cut up lace tablecloths."
It was silly but‘true. The cus
tomer was Dorothy Stepplmg,
wardrobe shopper for 20th Cen
tury-Fox. She carried her purchases
back to the studio. There, seam
stresses snipped out the lace,
appliqued it onto net, made the
net into a sumptuous lace gown.
You may see it on Gene Tierney
in “The Razor’s Edge" and never
dream it was made from table
Lota of Ingenuity
Things like that have been hap
pening in Hollywood ever since
the war created a famine in fine
fabrics which persists even after
a year of peace. Dressing the stars,
which sounds like an attractive
chore, also has become one of
Hollywood's more ingenious big
businesses. About 1,000 dextrous
artisans, many from famous Euro
pean salons, spend more than
$8,000,000 annually making movie
lovelies lovelier. Their resourceful
ness is a Hollywood legend.
Take damask, for instance. Not
long ago, Ren£ Hubert, designer
on the staff of Charles LeMaire,
incisive Chicago-bom wardrobe
chief at 20th Century-Fox. dreamed
up a wedding gown which had to
be made of heavy damask satin.
When none could be found, Hubert
took ordinary satin, apphqu£d it
with taffeta and presto! had a
damask that fooled the camera.
Velvet also is scarce. Studio
shoppers searched in vain for red
velvet to use in a gown for Alice
Faye. They were ready to give up
when a seamstress on her way to
work one day noticed a red-velvet
overstuffed chair in an upholster
er's window. She telephoned the
studio: 'T've found it!" Shoppers
bought the chair, stripped off the
velvet, used it to make the gown.
One Dress: $2,750
“One of the nicest brocade eve
ning gowns we ever whipped up
was made of window drapes we
found in an intenor decorator’s,”
Costs of improvisation are high,
but Hollywood’s finery has always
been expensive. Almost any dressy
costume for a star costs $500;
many cost much more. The record
is supposed to be about $2,750.
Although no star wears the same
gown in two pictures, it is always
remodeled several times for lesser
players and finally worn by extras
until it falls to pieces.
Go«w were tilted on the
xtarx perxorrallv until Vrrmi
Billings mined in. She began
to make figures (not “dummies,”
please!) by draping stars’ nude
torsos with skin-tight muslin which
she marks, removes, sews into
shape and pads full of cotton.
She makes one for each actress —
three or four for top stars — and
must change them if the proto
types get thinner or fatter.
In wartime, many colored fabrics
were hard to come by. Navy blue.
Continued on next page
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