By Lisa D., Buffalo Exchange Somerville
The Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston transported me back to the Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s.
These first movie stars were otherworldly, and their costumes were luxurious and expensive beyond all imagination. On show are 16 gowns expertly crafted with silk, satin, chiffon, velvet, gold lame, fur, and dripping in diamonds and gem stones. Iconic actresses such as Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Betty Grable, and Joan Crawford were swathed in these exquisite gowns designed by the most elite designers such as Edith Head, Adrian, Elsa Schiaparelli, and for a short time Chanel, too. It was exhilarating to see these treasures up close and marvel at their design.
Also on view were dazzling jewels of the era by Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin and Neil lane along with private collections owned by Mae West, Ginger Rogers, and Myrna Loy. The exhibit was accompanied by clips of films bringing all the glory of these outfits to light when worn by these actresses. There were photo and letters between designers and Mae West and Gloria Swanson discussing future designs. The highlights for me were being able to see the silk satin gown that Jean Harlow wore to her Hollywood Walk of Fame inauguration.
I also marveled at the cheeky design of Mae West’s 8 1/2” platform shoes that catapulted her up from her slight 5’ stature and allowed for this deception to be hidden beneath her gown. This truly is a world you want to live in. The illusion of decadence of this era that made film legends can be summed up by Joan Crawford who once said, “I never go out of the house unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want the girl next door, go next door.”