Friday 9 December 2016

Iconic fashion in film: Vivienne Leigh in Gone with the Wind

Sinead Van Kampen

Published 25/02/2011 | 14:36

15th September 1938: British actress Vivien Leigh as she appeared in the play 'Serena Blandish' at the Gate Theatre in London. (Photo by Sasha/Getty Images)
15th September 1938: British actress Vivien Leigh as she appeared in the play 'Serena Blandish' at the Gate Theatre in London. (Photo by Sasha/Getty Images)

The already iconic Oscar nominated Black Swan costume designs (see Jim Carrey dressed as a black swan on Saturday Night Live) have inspired us at Independent Woman to ask ourselves what are the most stylish films of all time?

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Vivienne Leigh in Gone with the Wind

Thirty two of Hollywood's leading ladies were considered and then rejected for the role of Scarlett O'Hara before Viviene Leigh became the choice that shocked Hollywood. The set had been built, many of the initial scenes had been filmed and time was running out before Victor Fleming finally found in Vivienne Leigh the character who was to become one of the most defining leading ladies in the history of cinema.

If finding the anti-heroine who would embody the petty snobberies and feminine guile of Scarlett O'Hara was proving to be difficult, then the responsibility of producing the 5,000 items of period clothing required for over 50 major characters was proving impossible. That task was given to Walter Plunkett whose costume design for Gone with the Wind had the largest budget of any film ever made.

The scale of the the project was epic and by all accounts Walter nearly didn't manage it. Having researched the period dresses for nearly a year before filming even began, he was close to being fired by the studio before pulling through with his costume designs for Scarlett O'Hara.

The missed deadlines soon became a memory and the dresses stuff of legend.

Rhett Butler's cut waistcoats, the fanciful velvet dresses of the Charleston belles, the yards of fabric required for the elaborate millinery and even the detail of the period knickerbockers all help to make Gone with the Wind such a vivid production.

Forget Marie Antoinette and Shakespeare in Love, if you can turn your attentions away for more than a second from Vivienne Leigh's brutally feminine charms, then the costume drama that is Gone with the Wind becomes the ultimate fashion feast.

Signature look: Gloves of the finest velvet and nerves of forged steel.

Finest fashion hour: That green dress made from a worn pair of curtains.

In a phrase: "I can shoot straight, if I don't have to shoot too far."

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