Portrait of Anna May Wong for Daughter of the Dragon directed by Lloyd Corrigan, 1931 via
Anna May Wong and Warner Oland in Daughter of the Dragon directed by Lloyd Corrigan, 1931 via
Travis Banton (1894 – 1958) was the chief designer at Paramount Pictures. He is considered one of the most important Hollywood costume designers of the 1930s.
An early apprenticeship with a high-society costume dressmaker earned him fame. When Mary Pickford selected one of his dresses for her wedding to Douglas Fairbanks, his reputation was established.
He opened his own dressmaking salon in New York City, and soon was asked to create costumes for the Ziegfeld Follies. In 1924, Travis Banton moved to Hollywood when Paramount contracted with him to create costumes for his first film, The Dressmaker from Paris.
Glamour, understated elegance, and exquisite fabrics endeared Travis Banton to the most celebrated of Hollywood’s beauties and made him one of the most sought-after costume designers of his era.
Because of his alcoholism and reputedly also at the instigation of his subordinate Edith Head, Banton was forced to leave Paramount. He started his own business and also designed for Twentieth Century-Fox from 1939-1941 and Universal from 1945-1948.
Marlene Dietrich in “The Devil is a Woman,” 1935. Costume by Travis Banton via
Claudette Colbert in “Tonight is Ours” 1933, costume by Travis Banton via
Anna May Wong in “Limehouse Blues” 1934, costume by Travis Banton via
Lucille Ball in “Lover Come Back” 1946, costume by Travis Banton via
Carole Lombard in “Rumba”, 1935. Costume by Travis Banton via
Carl Van Vechten (1880 – 1964) was an American writer and artistic photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the literary executor of Gertrude Stein.
In the 1930s, Van Vechten began taking portrait photographs.
Among the many individuals he photographed were Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Theda Bara, Harry Belafonte, Leonard Bernstein, Karen Blixen, Jane Bowles, Marlon Brando, Truman Capote, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Ella Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Martha Graham, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Horst P. Horst, Mahalia Jackson, Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt, Henri Matisse, W. Somerset Maugham, Elsa Maxwell, Henry Miller, Joan Miró, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Diego Rivera, Gertrude Stein, James Stewart, Alfred Stieglitz, Gloria Vanderbilt, Gore Vidal, Evelyn Waugh, Orson Welles and Anna May Wong.
Frida wearing a Tchuantepee gourd by Carl Van Vechten, 1932 via
Tallulah Bankhead by Carl Van Vechten, 1934 via
Anna May Wong by Carl Van Vechten, 1935 via
Josephine Baker by Carl Van Vechten via
Gertrude Stein by Carl Van Vechten, 1935 via
Lillian Gish by Carl Van Vechten, 1937 via
Theda Bara by Carl Van Vechten, 1939 via
Karen Blixen by Carl Van Vechten, 1959 via
Edith Head (1897 – 1981) was an American costume designer who won a record eight Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, starting with The Heiress (1949) and ending with The Sting (1973).
Born and raised in California, Head managed to get a job as a costume sketch artist at Paramount Pictures, without any relevant training. She first acquired notability for Dorothy Lamour’s trademark sarong dress, and then became a household name after the Academy Awards created a new category of Costume Designer in 1948. Head was considered exceptional for her close working relationships with her subjects, with whom she consulted extensively, and these included virtually every top female star in Hollywood.
After 43 years she left Paramount for Universal, possibly because of her successful partnership with Alfred Hitchcock, and also adapted her skills for television.
Edith Head, 1930s via
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong in Dangerous to Know directed by Robert Florey, 1938 via
Grace Kelly wearing her Oscar dress by Edith Head. Photograph by Philippe Halsman via
Edith Head’s costume for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd directed by Billy Wilder, 1950 via
Audrey Hepburn (with Edith Head in the background) puts on her tiara and necklace while on the set of Roman Holiday, 1952 via
Hitchcock and Head on the set of Family Plot, 1976 via