Friday, September 23, 2011

Fashion | Letty Lynton

Added Sunday 09.25 || Here is my contribution to the Fashion In Film Blogathon. You can find the other entries for the event here. Also be sure to check out my other [older] post about fashion in film... Sketch To Screen: All About Eve!

One of my favorite things about Classic Hollywood are the costumes worn by all of the glamorous stars of that time. I was very excited to see the 'Fashion In Film' blogathon being hosted by Hollywood Revue and decided what I would write about that day!

I knew I wanted to highlight a single film that had a large influence on fashion, and of course, it had to star one of my favorite actors. And so came the idea of the 1932 film Letty Lynton. Did the film make a mark on the fashion world? Check! Does it star one of my favorite actors? Check! Sounded like a good plan to me.

The film is about a New York socialite who weaves a tangled mess of her social life, and must resort to murder to escape it. Sounds pretty seedy, but throw in an Adrian designed wardrobe and Joan Crawford and you've got one very fashion forward film. The film caused quite a stir in its day, even being banned in England because it allowed someone to commit murder with no consequence. And on top of that a 1936 court decision has made the film unavailable to view even to this day because it violated copyright laws. The off camera drama is enough to make a its own great film.

Now that we know about the film, let's talk about the fashions of the picture. After this film was made, it was made well aware how much influence Hollywood had on the way women dressed. Adrian's designs for Crawford emphasized her broad shoulders, while keeping her look feminine.  He was the first modern designer to use this technique. It was meant to make women feel empowered, independent and strong-willed. The broad-shouldered suits Adrian designed for Joan cause a stir in the fashion world... women everywhere were wearing shoulder pads after this film.

All of fashions in this film made a huge impact on early-mid 1930's fashions. Maybe none more than the white organdy dress Joan wears in the film. The gown featured broad shoulders, ruffled sleeves, and a very narrow waistline. The department store Macy's copied the design to sell in their stores, and was rumored to have sold between 500,000-1,000,000 gowns. This gown changed the thoughts on deco evening wear, which usually consisted of long, sleek lines. Edith Head even called this gown "the single most important influence on fashion in film history."

It was also during this time that Joan met hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff, who gave her that signature Joan 1930's style. It has been said that she loved the hairdo so much, she went straight back to Hollywood to have the studio hair dressers copy the look for the Letty Lynton picture.

This gown and all of the others from this film were knocked off in all parts of the fashion world. You can still see it's influence to this day. It's amazing what a match made in fashion heaven Adrian and Crawford made. They were just elegant!


  1. I am so glad you wrote about Letty Lynton. Since it was pulled from circulation, it's not Joan's most well-known movie but it had such a huge impact in terms of style. Thanks for the wonderful contribution!

  2. This is one movie that everyone would love to see,and whose fashion reputation lies in legend and wonderful photos. Adrian and Crawford - how can you go wrong? Thanks for the great post and beautiful photos.

  3. I haven't seen Letty Lynton yet, but I'm changing that soon!

  4. Wow, what amazing clothes! Can't believe this film has been pulled from circulation and is now forbidden viewing. From the photos, it seems to have defined Crawford's iconic 'look.' Is this film available for viewing anywhere? Thanks for posting this.

  5. Gorgeous, gorgeous gowns! I'd never heard of this film, Craig. Thanks so much for featuring it for Blogathon day. :)

  6. This was a wonderful choice for the fashion Blogathon. The gowns are amazing!!

  7. Pre-code Crawford? You can't go wrong there. Her gowns are absolutely stunning! But that's what you expect from a designer like Adrian.

    Great post!

  8. I really enjoyed your post -- I share your fondness for Joan Crawford, this film, and the great fashions. I had no idea about the film being pulled from circulation -- how interesting!

  9. Wow! Great post :) I am trying to see all of Joan's movies and always wondered why "Letty Lynton" was never shown when so many of her other films during this time are. I never knew it was taken out of circulation! haha I'll admit, I'm a little angry now.

    But WOW on that white dress. I love it. I had seen her in the white and black gown before. No idea the white one made suuuch an impact.

    Thanks for sharing, amazing fashion in this movie and I've learned a few new things :D

  10. Interesting note about the shoulder pads. It really highlights how fashion can be important in a political sense. It's not all just pretty ruffles!