Monday, January 25, 2010

baby face

I'm back from vacation! And I really thought my first post here would be a shop preview. But driving 1200 miles (including fog along the entire length of Iowa) without stopping to sleep--and being unable to sleep properly in a car at all--and a day spent packing the many orders received while we were away (thank you, lovely Etsy customers!), means I haven't had an ounce of energy left to photograph.

Instead, I spent yesterday on the couch, dozing and watching old movies. One of which was Baby Face, a pre-Code film starring one of my all-time favorite actresses, Barbara Stanwyck. So instead of a nice preview, you are getting a bunch of photos of Stanwyck in Baby Face.

Baby Face, released in 1933, was the story of Lily, a woman who uses sex (spurred on by Nietzschean philosophy) to get what she wants from men. She works in her father's speakeasy, where her father pimps her out to the local men, including a politician. The photo of the top of this post shows Lily's face as she watches her father's still--with him still inside--burn to the ground. It's a scene where you watch her expression subtly and beautifully go from shock to, well, satisfaction. Incredible.

The film is worth watching for Stanwyck's great acting alone. But it also has Stanwyck wearing a wonderful array of fashion. She starts out in simple frocks and cloche hats, moves on to several crazy-wonderful office girl outfits (I've never seen ruffles worn with such dramatic and decidedly non-girlish flair!) as she "climbs the ladder" (ahem) at the bank, and ends up in gorgeous gowns (by Orry-Kelly) and dripping in jewels.

Here, she's about to ask blondie where she got that perm.

I loved this shot. Lily is in the office ladies' room, having just been caught in there with her boss. I love how she nonchalantly continues to put on her lipstick, after being caught!

There are a few hilarious scenes where Lily serves up a cocktail saying she "never touches the stuff" and then proceeds to drain her drink!

Here's Lily with her maid, Chico. Lily is loyal to Chico, stating throughout the film on a number of occasions, "Chico stays." Chico's fortunes seem to rise along with Lily's, at least as far as her clothing is concerned. At Christmas, Chico goes out, all dolled up in furs. Even her maid outfits are quite fancy. This is a plainer outfit, but I do love Chico's little beret cap and belted coat here.

Really great film. If you rent the Forbidden Hollywood disc from Netflix, make sure you watch the Pre-Release version (as opposed to the Theatrical Release), as the sexual content and Nietzsche references caused the film to be censored.



  1. I would love to use your screen captures in a post about the fashion of this movie on my blog? I have to admit you just had the best collection of fashion shots on the web. Do you mind? I'll give you credit, of course.

  2. Hello! Yes, that is fine. Looking back over this post makes me want to re-watch Baby Face. Please let me know when your blog post goes up--I'd love to see it!

  3. I just published the post at my site. I am also working on another with examples of the home sewing patterns available at the time that match or fit with the styles that Orry-Kelly designed for the character. I couldn't believe I found so many images. Thanks again, I couldn't have done this without you!

  4. Thanks for the photos from Baby Face. I watched the uncut version last week, was struck by the incredible costumes, then found your site.


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