Saturday, August 8, 2009


"In 1947 Bette Davis' tenure as the first lady of Warner Brothers was drawing to a close. Since 1932 her [wardrobe for] films had been designed almost exclusively by the brilliant and hot-tempered Orry-Kelly. "She didn't like him as a person but she kept using him because she knew she needed him," recalls Milo Anderson.

Her figure had several serious problems: bowed legs, very round shoulders, and a long and broad neck. Worst of all were her breasts, which hung almost to her waist. She refused to wear brassieres with underwire because she thought that the wire would cause breast cancer. When strapless bras became available, Kelly bought one and tried to get her to wear it, but she threw it at him. If Kelly pulled up on the straps too much her shoulders ached and the breasts simply doubled over.

Sometimes Kelly just let the breasts fall as they would and hid them in the unfitted waistline of a dress. But usually he lifted them as much as possible and tried to find new and different ways of camouflaging the situation with optical illusions. Short sleeves on a blouse or dress usually end at the middle of the upper arm, but Kelly brought Davis' sleeves down to the elbow so that they would be on the same level as the bottom of her bust. He often put white handkerchiefs in her breast pockets or corsages to draw the eye up. "Oh, give me some new way to break her bust!" he moaned one day to his assistant."
. -- from Edith Head: The Life and Times of Hollywood's Celebrated Costume Designer by David Chierichetti

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