Monday, May 17, 2010

Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Tennessee Williams was a genius. There isn’t really much to say other than that. This film and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are masterworks of literature, theatre and film. Watching this movie makes you feel as if you are in some sweltering dream, melting away in chiffon in New Orleans.

Vivien Leigh is delightfully wispy in this film. You get the feeling that Blanche might just float away, like her mind does before the end of the film. Everything Vivien Leigh wears is done to shore up this fantastically delicate feel that the filmmakers create for Blanche Dubois. Almost every dress she wears has ruffles and appears to be very gauzy and pastel. She also wears a lot of chiffon and flowers.

Here is my interpretation:
Dress: Jovovich Hawk Dark Pink Pointelle ‘Carly’ Ruffle Dress via on sale for $139.99 (Regularly: $492)
Hat: Catherine’s, Wide Brim Hat in Hot Coral, $22
Brooch: Newport News, Coral/Jade Flower Pin, $40
Shoes: Etienne Aigner, Unity in Rose via Zappos on sale for $69
Total: $270.99
Here is a Polyvore showing it all put together:

I felt strongly that this needed to be a monochromatic look. It is something about the black and white movies that seem to make me want to go all one color or invent very vibrant colors, nothing in between. Blanche seemed to cry out for pink, so I went with a pink and color monochromatic theme. My only disappointment with this look is that I will not be able to wear it! I look absolutely washed-out in peach. I think blondes like Blanche look divine in pinks and peach though. I punched up the pale pink dress with deeper coral tones in the hat, shoes and brooch.

The central outfit I based this look on is the picture above, but I selected a hat to go with this as well, because she wears a hat earlier in the film when she goes to dinner with Stella. I think that a hat gives this a very ladylike feeling and adds a bit more chiffon.

The dress had to have the wide ruffle collar. I thought this one was perfect and it was a steal. Regularly $492 but on sale for $139.99! The brooch is also pitch-perfect and matches Blanche’s brooch pretty directly. The shoes I improvised a bit on. I knew I wanted them to be coral and be very feminine. These with the mid-height heel and bow on the top work nicely.

Still, this is an expensive outfit. However, I think that the cost is justified because I think this look is really only appropriate for a special occasion, such as a wedding or garden party. Still, a complete semi-formal look for under $300 is wonderful.

This dress also reminds me of another famous dress from the 1983 mini-series, The Thorn Birds. This looks like Meggie’s “Ashes of Roses” dress. Rachel Ward looks amazing in this dress. (As a side note, I think the best quote from that entire mini-series is “You can’t make love for toffee!”)

Everything about the look I have created is demure, eye-catching, ladylike and lovely. Blanche would definitely approve! I would like to think of a way to adapt this look for my skin tone. Perhaps a pale blue dress with more teal or turquoise accessories? What is your opinion on monochromatic looks? Have you tried it for a special occasion?

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