Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


One of the things I love most about Oscar night is the parade of dresses.


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image from

There is nothing like seeing what styles are making it to the red carpet. Beautiful wide skirts, strapless bodices, bright colors, muted colors, beading and ruffles galore.


It is enough to make this clothes-horse wannabe die and go to heaven.


I loved the structured Art Deco gowns that  Halle Berry, Naomi Watts, and Nicole Kidman wore. Anne Hathaway’s simple pink sheath was perfect for her body. Octavia Spencer looked fabulous. And Jane Fonda looked great for a woman in her late seventies.


Perhaps that is why I am always fascinated by the beautiful costumes in the movies.


For sheer numbers of bridesmaid dresses, there is nothing comparable to 27 Dresses. This romantic comedy stars Katherine Heigl as a woman who has been a bridesmaid 27 times with horrible dresses to match. While there is a great montage scene in which Heigl puts on each dress, the movie is about this young woman who is having trouble finding the right guy after a terrible rejection.


Image from

Image from

Another movie that is more recent is actually an homage to the fashion industry. The Devil Wears Prada started life as a whiny book by a woman who worked for the infamous editor of Vogue. The movie, which stars Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway as the editor and assistant, makes our key personnel into real people who have reasons for being as tough as nails and so malleable. But the other part of this movie is the great clothes that Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt wear throughout.


One of my favorite movies during the glamorous age of Hollywood is Mame starring Rosalind Russell as the intrepid and unstoppable Auntie Mame. This movie is non-stop tour-de-force that tells the story of Mame Dennison who becomes guardian of her nephew during the end of the roaring twenties. They adore and care for each other when the party ends with the great depression. Russell is great but so is her wardrobe that surprisingly does not reflect the style of the 1920s.


We forgive this aspect because in the 1950s, costume design was bent on making great outfits that were not necessarily historically correct. There is nothing that remotely looks like the loose dresses with the flat chests of the 20s. I thought most of the movie took place in the 50s until the portion about the Great Depression.


As time passed that would change. Costumes became breathtakingly accurate.  Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst as the doomed queen featured incredibly intricately detailed dresses and shoes. There are sublime moments in this costume drama as a young princess learns to be a queen while walking the treacherous path of court and public opinion.


Grace Kelly in the final scene of "Rear Window," Image from

Grace Kelly in the final scene of “Rear Window,” Image from

But perhaps my favorite movie for wonderful costuming is Rear Window starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. This thriller follows a photographer, grounded at home with a broken leg, as he begins to investigate the odd comings and goings of a particular neighbor. Helping him in this adventure is his girlfriend, an editor at a famous fashion magazine. Each scene has Kelly in a gorgeous outfit that accents her figure and is fitting for the moment.


At the end of the movie, she is by Stewart’s side as he recovers from two broken legs. We see the high fashion maven in jeans and a cinnamon-colored shirt reading a book on Asia until her boyfriend is asleep. It is a fitting end to a movie that is both suspenseful and beautiful.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.