Inspired by: My Fair Lady, Ralph Lauren
I love, love, love My Fair Lady, so it’s only fitting that it should be my first post. It’s one of my favorite Hollywood musicals of all time not only because the Edwardian costumes and scenery are beautiful to look at – thanks to the brilliance of Cecil Beaton, who won Oscars for both the costume design and the production design for this film – but also for its witty dialogue, delicious lyrics and satiric humor – the result of one of many award-winning collaborations between Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The film’s costumes serve as aid to the transformation and characterization of Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn), who goes from being a poor cockney-accented flower girl from Covent Garden to a lady simply by learning to speak like royalty through elocution lessons from the misogynistic and pompous linguistics professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison). It also served as emphasis of the film’s critique of social class.
However, aside from the themes of identity and society, perhaps most notable is the theme of spectacle. The opening Ascot Horse Race scene, possibly the one that most satirizes British aristocracy is, in my opinion, the acme of costume design being used to emphasize glamour and spectacle. This is something Hollywood certainly had mastered in their lavish productions of musicals and epics of the 1950’s (think Samson and Delilah, The Ten Commandments, The King and I, Singin’ in the Rain, and An American in Paris) and continued with My Fair Lady in the early 60’s, something that would soon die down once expensive Hollywood productions began to fail at the box office (think Cleopatra, which left 20th Century Fox on the verge of bankruptcy).
I think it’s hard to say that Ralph Lauren wasn’t inspired by this film for his 2008 Spring Ready-to-Wear collection – his 40th anniversary in business – for which he is quoted as saying "I drew upon everything I ever loved, and that was it." He may very well have drawn his inspiration from The Royal Ascot Race and its sartorial tradition, nonetheless, the similarities are striking. The black and white theme is only a portion of his show from that season, which consisted of 72 looks. So without further ado, feast your eyes with the following eye-candy.
My Fair Lady (1964) Warner Bros. Pictures | Costume Designer, Cecil Beaton | Director, George Cukor | Costume Wardrobe Department: Eleanor Abbey, Dave Berman, Geoffrey Brown, Norma Brown, Betty Huff, Anne Laune, Bob Richards, Gerda Robinson, Joe Wiatt.
Ralph Lauren Spring 2008 RTW Collection, photos courtesy of Style.com.
© 2011 - 2015, Louise Junker.