That gown Carole Lombard is wearing, from her final film, "To Be Or Not To Be," was designed by Irene Lentz Gibbons, known professionally as "Irene." One of the top designers of her era, she worked on most of Lombard's movies from 1939 on, continuing the glamorous tradition Carole had earlier established with Travis Banton, mostly at Paramount.
We've written about Irene before (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/445941.html). Like Lombard, she died tragically, jumping from a window in the Knickerbocker Hotel in November 1962. But more than half a century after her passing, her fashion genius is not only being remembered, but revived.
In March, the House of Irene was relaunched at Los Angeles Fashion Week. There are many people to credit for this renewed interest in the designer, but here are two in particular:
That's Greg LaVoi with Kyra Sedgwick, who regularly dresses in LaVoi's Irene-inspired outfits on the TNT series "The Closer." LaVoi has long been an admirer of Irene and her fashion style, and thanks to him the Irene label...
...is back for mass consumption (with the blessing of her family), as it was in the days when she had her own fashion line at the fabled Bullocks Wilshire. As Kimberly Truhler recently wrote in her fine film and fashion blog GlamAmor,
"The style is so timeless that the pieces in the runway collection -- all originally conceived by Irene decades ago -- are still stunning today. LaVoi even used updated fabrics, such as fashionable leather, to show just how modern these clothes can be."
Want proof? Here are some pics from Truhler's entry (http://www.glamamor.com/2013/03/cinema-connection-designs-of-irene.html):
They may derive from 1940s style, but they're sensible, elegant and timeless. Irene -- and Carole -- would be proud.
LaVoi, who's writing a book about Irene, calls her "the most celebrated costume designer no one has heard of." Not for long, we hope. For more on Irene's career, visit http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/irene-lentz-costume-designers-chic-430898.
In the 2013 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tourney, as of 8 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday, 1930s champion Lombard had a 31-9 lead on '50s winner Doris Day (another Irene devotee), while '40s winner Bette Davis has a comparable 32-9 edge on surprise '60s champ Diana Rigg. You have until 6 p.m. (Eastern) tonight to vote, if you haven't yet done so, at http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com. The finals, which look to be Lombard vs. Davis barring a drastic change, will begin Wednesday morning and continue through Sunday.
Lombard bares much of her back while standing in front of candles in our latest LiveJournal header, Paramount p1202-57.