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If you haven’t had the chance to see ‘The Artist’, be sure to check it out.  It’s a fun film and something different from the same old same old.   The film covers the transition from silent films to the talking pictures between 1927 and 1931, and focuses on the relationship between an older silent film star and a up and coming starlet of the talkies.

Recently, I got a chance to check out the “20th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” exhibition at FIDM, and the biggest draw for me was seeing the costumes in color created by Academy Award nominee costume designer Mark Bridges from ‘The Artist’.  As you can see, the black and white film doesn’t do the costumes justice in showing the rich colors Bridges used.

Photo credit: abimages.com

The outfit, in which unknown starlet Peppy Miller meets silent film star George Valentin, is actually a coral silk crepe dress.  Bridges took pictures of fabric swatches in black and white in order to find the correct shade of grey.

Photo credit: Vanity Fair

Bridges based many of Peppy’s dresses on vintage designs, he says ” I would find a prototype garment from the 20s that was really great, but would have about an hour’s worth of life in it,”

sketch courtesy of Mark Bridges/Vanity Fair

Bridges dressed the characters in true black and white to reflect their success, and contrasted it against the greys of characters whose careers were on their way up or on their way down. In the below scene, Peppy’s career is on a sharp rise, and her costume reflects her increasing wealth while George’s career begins to falter. As the film progresses, George costume’s begin to fade into the background, whereas Peppy’s costumes have high contrast.

Bridges gives the backstory on creating this dress:

“That’s my favorite dress of the movie,” Bridges says. “I was shopping at a fabric store here in L.A. and I found this panel of black and lamé. It was sold in a 45-inch square with that pattern as the border. I had a 1929 dress that my cutter made a pattern for, and then we worked together to figure out how to lay the borders on the hem, the sleeve, down the front, just using that one panel of fabric.

sketch courtesy of Mark Bridges/Vanity Fair

I’ve added film screenshots of the other three outfits for comparison to the color photo.

Peppy is in an olive green waxed linen raincoat and parasol

Ballet-inspired costume of pink and purple tulle

George Valentin’s wife Constance in a fur-collared velvet evening coat with beaded appliqués, over Art Deco-inspired dress

Sources: FIDM, Vanity Fair

And…the 365 photo inspiration for 4/26 was ‘black + white’ and 4/27 was ‘somewhere you went’.

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