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Meet the Hollywood designer behind Joan Crawford’s huge shoulder pads

Adrian designed this ensemble for the 1962 movie “Beautiful to Look At.”Eileen Costa

What do Dorothy’s crimson slippers and Joan Crawford’s shoulder pads have in frequent? They have been designed by Adrian, MGM’s star couturier, whose creations for such classics as “The Wizard of Oz,” “Grand Lodge” and “The Ladies” helped create Hollywood glamour.

However as a brand new exhibit on the Museum at Trend Institute of Expertise reveals, Adrian’s affect transcended the silver display. “Adrian: Hollywood and Past,” organized by graduate college students in FIT’s Trend and Textile Research: Historical past, Concept, Museum Observe program, examines the costumer’s profession, from the flicks to the division retailer ground by means of a mixture of textiles, images, video and show-stopping robes worn each on and off the MGM lot.

“He took most of the methods and [the] aptitude he realized in Hollywood to his ready-to-wear and couture traces,” says Harper Franklin, one of many exhibit’s writers and curators. “However as soon as he left movie, he was really capable of take extra liberties and discover some loopy issues.”

AdrianBettmann Archive

Gilbert Adrian (born Adrian Adolph Greenberg) designed costumes for 250 MGM films, from the 1920s to the 1950s. He had a knack for over-the-top garments that nonetheless would spark vogue traits: The signature square-shouldered look he dreamed up for Crawford launched the dominant silhouette of the late ’30s and ’40s.

“He was actually adept at suiting,” says Franklin, pointing at a wool jacket reduce on the bias, giving it a womanly form. “He would add these stunning insets, or use this refined manipulation of wool to rework an in any other case common jacket into one thing slightly extra particular.”

MGM, recognizing Adrian’s reward, started establishing “cinema outlets” inside malls in LA and New York, the place atypical ladies might purchase variations of the ensembles he made for stars. The outlets’ success prompted the designer to launch his personal vogue model, in 1942.

Adrian usually regarded to the artwork world for inspiration for his designs. He titled this 1945 ensemble, which he made by piecing collectively totally different materials like a Cubist jigsaw puzzle, “Shades of Picasso.”Eileen Costa

Adrian’s post-Hollywood designs continued to exhibit a aptitude for the dramatic. “He was undoubtedly not afraid of wacky textiles,” says Franklin. These embrace tiger stripes, photos of cherubs and even chickens — utilized in a full-skirted, mid-century “hostess” frock whose bodice was splattered with a huge barn. A surprising rayon-crepe costume from 1947, printed with a Salvador Dalí illustration of boulders, comes capped with a darkish capelet that, in its clever draping and use of appliqué, echoes the shadows in Dalí’s motif.

However Adrian couldn’t go away Hollywood for lengthy. He returned to MGM for 1952’s “Beautiful To Look At,” for which he created the exhibit’s dusty-rose robe, worn throughout the Technicolor extravaganza’s elaborate fashion-show sequence. Adrian constructed the bodice out of 1 steady piece of jersey that goes from the waist up over the pinnacle (to create a dramatic hood), to a last billowing sleeve. No marvel the women went loopy for his stuff. “It’s such escapist vogue,” says Franklin.

Nowadays, people are trying to copy his glamorous ideas. Maybe the lack of new ideas in Hollywood fashion is just because everybody trying to copy someone… Who knows?

“Adrian: Hollywood and Past” runs by means of April 1 on the Museum at FIT, 227 W. 27th St.; 212-217-4558; Free.

Omar Hopkins
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Omar Hopkins

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