Fashions and Titanic


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Bill Desena

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OK, Randy, here's the topic for fashions and Titanic.

I used to design clothes and did costumes too so I also love to see the costumes in the movies and check the authenticity of the designs with the period. It's been argued elsewhere's (The Strauss Incident) that ladies garments of the day may have contributed to loss of lives in the sea that night.

Regards
Bill
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Actually, Bill, I'd love to discuss but the topic is too broad, isn't it? The only reason I discussed this in the first place was in response to people's questions and I felt I had something relevant to say. I went into the restrictiveness of clothes under the Straus heading and on another thread I mentioned the same re: Edith Evans.

I guess I could start by asking you where & when you designed and for what and/or whom as your having designed professionally is very intriguing. I have designed costumes and other clothes privately but my interest is on the reporting and history side of fashion so I haven't done much beyong that.
 
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Bill DeSena

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Hi Randy,

My design work was for a now defunct company that produced naughty leather outfits for stage productions and, humph...private shows back in the '70's. I also did some costumes for local theatre productions, shows and private work. I still whip out a historic outfit when the urge and time moves me just to keep my skills active. One of my jobs (DOD) was to create tourist clothing that could be converted quickly into local countries official police and military uniforms for covert work. I was a tailor too, forgot that in my profile. Anyway, with all my careers it helps to know how to fit and alter my many work clothes.

Regards

Bill
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Bill,

Very cool! But my God, bondage clothes!? You wretch! You saved yourself by clarifying it was in the '70s!

Well, here's a question:

What do you think of the costumes in Titanic ('97)?

I think they were quite good although one always finds something if you're an expert in a certain area and period clothes are my love. So I'd rate them as good and certainly deserving of the Oscar they got but I noticed a liberty taken with Rose's deck clothes such as in the lunch/dinner scene in the verandah cafe (or wherever it was, you know when she blew cigarette smoke in her mother's eyes). That dress was quite authentic but they did not have her in a hat which she absolutely should have been wearing. It would have been very bad form - and therefore unthinkable for a young lady in first class - to not wear a hat in the daytime. I think Cameron wanted to show her as a bit of a rebel and have her look more modern so as to connect with the audience better.

If you'll notice she only wore a hat in the boarding scene. Most of her dresses were for evening or were negligees but in the scene where she first talks w/ Jack after her near-fall, if you'll notice, her dress was right on but again no hat. The same with the lounge scene and the later "flying" scene w/ Jack on the bow. Of course the latter couldn't have been done w/ her in a hat. It wouldn't have worked.

And since people will expect me to say something re: Lucile sooner or later in this post, let me say I think the evening dress worn by the the actress who portrayed her was too matronly. She wouldn't have worn that. The hair ornament was a bit much, too, I thought.

The prettiest clothes were Rose's but the dresses and hat for the Countess of Rothes and Madeleine Astor's evening dress were very authentic too.

What is your opinion of the clothes in the movie?
 

Beth

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Dec 12, 1998
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Dear Randy,Was'nt the dress that Rose wore commonly known as the (Jump Dress) was'nt that dress an evening gown? That dress is very beautiful, I dont believe that they wore hats with those kinds of dresses They usually wore there hair ,up with some ornaments such as feathers for example. I do know that she was supposed to wear a hat with the ( tea dress) the scene where she was having lunch and started smoking.I adore all the ensembles in the movie, I just cannot decide which one is my favorite although ,I do really love the jump Dress. Im thinking of having that one made, any suggestions for a seamstress? thank you. Beth
 
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Beth,

The so-called "jump dress" was the red and black number and yes that was an evening dress and no you would not wear a hat w/ it. Actually the lunch scene dress would be what was called an afternoon gown. A tea gown was a flowing garment worn indoors for tea and in intimate company - almost like a negligee -and one would not generally wear a hat with that.

The dress Rose wore at breakfast w/ Cal was basically a teagown. For less informal teas - such as for a garden party - gowns would be more akin to an afternoon type. These tended to be extremely dainty - made of organdy, organza, lace, and chiffon and were almost always topped by a large hat, prefferably with a drooping brim in the leghorn manner.

My personal favorite among Rose's costumes is the gold/yellow silk/satin dress trimmed in white organdy/batiste in the daytime deck scene w/ Jack - it is the most authentic, particularly the draped, peg-top effect of the skirt. Perfect! It only needed a hat. I would have put her in a very plain, small turban or toque-shape hat - white silk, maybe, embroidered in gold and with a gold net veil turned back over the hat and cascading over her shoulders. I think it would have been very becoming to her and wouldn't have been too distracting from the scene.

I cannot suggest a seamstress but if you want this dress, you can buy a Simplicity pattern for it. Also there is a website called "That Sinking Feeling" (a name that is in dubious taste in my opinion)which will undertake to make a great many of the dresses from Titanic. But be prepared to pay from $1000-$1500 for the "jump dress" and the gown Rose wore in the famous dinner scene. The "flying dress" - the violet velvet and silk outfit Rose wore in the kissing scene on the bow - can be had for a paltry $300!

Thanks and good luck!

Randy
 
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Bill DeSena

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Hi Randy and everyone!

I did like the costumes in Titanic very much I think they are probably the best I've seen since they are in full color and excellent workmanship. My wife is a hat wearer and has alot of the wide hats common in the period. I love to dress her up and choose her clothes for her which having an eye for it I'm quite good at doing. We usually shop in Paris on the Rue Fauboug St Honore for the wonderful haute couture boutiques. Also, the Paris flea market stores offer some wonderful designer originals at fractions of the origial costs. My wife found a Nina Rici fur coat and matching hat that would have made a great lifeboat ensemble for a few hundred dollars!

Rose was supposed to be a rebelous youth so leaving the hats off did a few things for the charachter, allowed her to be seen better and show her independant nature. If you'll notice most film directors try to keep their stars faces visible if they can, after all their paying for the talent and audience recognition.

My favorite outfit is the red gown she wears to the flagpole for her attempted suicide scene.

Question: If the Titanic tragedy was repeated today with a modern vessels do you think it would be women and children first? How much clothes would women today be willing to shed before leaving the ship? (I know its not likely ice patrols, radios, satelites, etc,etc.)

Regards

Bill
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Bill,

With the lack of decorum in almost every aspect of modern life, to say nothing of fashion or what now passes for fashion, I'd say that abandoning ship in the middle of the night in these times might look very much like a nude beach volley-ball match! Nobody would give any mind to clothes whatsoever, and as to the "women and children first" question, well, that could never happen today.

There would be no sweeping, collective act of male heroism as displayed in 1912. Today's men may be as brave as ever but women are equally so and men know it. So the 21st century politically correct version of the old rule of the sea would emphatically be "Every man - AND WOMAN - for themselves!"

Randy
 
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Bill DeSena

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Ha ha Randy!

I like the way you said that! My conclusion too I'm afraid we would see a riot and all sorts of beastly acts being committed by the passengers and crew if they knew some wouldn't make it. Perhaps herein lies the seed (pardon the pun) of an x rated movie script!

Bill
 

Beth

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Dec 12, 1998
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Dear Randy, Hi I have visited thae Titanic-Movie website, and there are original sketchings of the costumes worn in the movie, and the sketch of the Tea dress or gown, however you wish to refer, Rose is shown wearing a hat .It is a rather large hat adorned with flowers, to match the sash or belt on the tea dress. I really wish we could have seen her wear this hat with the Tea dress, I felt it was a dissapointment to see her only wear one hat, I do really like the hat that she wore with the boarding outfit it was a lovely ensemble.
 
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Andra

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Hello everyone, What is your opinion of the costumes in Hallmark Entertainment Titanic(1996) with george C. Scott and Catherine Zeta Jones ,I thought they were very Nice and true to the period , Do you agree? I thought the hats the women wore were fabulous too. Thanks Andra.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Beth,

Yes. The costumers should have used the hat in the scene.

Andra,

I was not quite as impressed with the costume designs for the TV Titanic ('96), I'm sorry to say. They were not done with the same panache - the hairstyles were done badly and the dresses weren't that remarkable either. I must say I also think that that film was very poorly cast and acted - Marilu Henner as Molly Brown!!! Hello! - and the detouring story lines such as the rape, which was a stupid and needless bit of prime-time exploitation - made it almost unwatchable.

Randy
 
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Bill DeSena

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Hi All!

Wasn't George C Scott practically senile as Capt. Smith in that one? Yes, it was probably the worst of the Titanic films made.

Regards

Bill
 
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Bill DeSena

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Hi all!

My favorite line from Titanic 1997: "will the lifeboats be seated according to class." My wife and I use that one often now. (chuckles)

Heh Randy,

Where the dresses with beadwork hand done?

Bill
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Bill,

Now Bill, you know the dresses were hand-beaded! In fact I watched a pre-Oscar special on E! channel which featured interviews w/ the costume designers & they said that Rose's dress - ya know the one - took a very long time because of the beadwork.

I liked that line about the lifeboats too - very corny! That's one area where the film was sorely deficient - dialogue. Some of the lines were so silly they sounded like they'd been lifted from a 1980s teen after-school TV special!

Randy
 
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DHuffaker

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David Huffaker:

Cameron wrote the script. You will remember it was one of the few categories for which the movie did not receive an Acadamy Award nomination. He does the scripts and directing for most of his his movies.

There was a large "room" on set in which alterations and such were made. The majority of the women's costumes were authentic period pieces and were very fragile. One of the reasons the Geroge C. Scott costumes were not as good is that the Cameron movie had "tied up" the vast majority of original costumes still in existence and available for rent.
 
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David,

I don't think the films competed for costumes. I may be wrong but I believe Cameron's costumers did mostly original work with the exception of a few actual period pieces, including at least one real Lucile gown which was shown in the E! Channel special. But in looking over the film time & again on video I've been unable to find it worn in any scene. It was an ivory sheer chiffon with a blue satin sash. It must have been in a cut scene or else is hidden in the dining room scenes - a pity.

Randy
 
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DavidHuffaker

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David Huffaker: I forgot to add we were talking about first class gowns at the time.
 
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