June 4th, 2019

carole lombard 02
  • vp19

'Godfrey's' other iconic outfit

We've discussed at length the glittery gown Carole Lombard wore in "My Man Godfrey," and why not? More than eight decades after it appeared on screen, this item still has the power to strike awe. (I can vouch for this, having seen it multiple times five years ago at the "Hollywood Costume" exhibit.)

But that gown, designed by Travis Banton and worn by Lombard's Irene Bullock character when she discovers and "claims" the homeless Godfrey during a scavenger hunt, wasn't the only fashion delight from that nonpareil screwball comedy. Later, after Godfrey's become the Bullocks' butler, Irene wears this around the house:

According to Facebook friend and Hollywood fashion expert David Noh, what's she wearing (also a Banton design) is a "frock'; some of us may view it as loungewear. Whatever you call it, it's stunning. Here's how Noh describes it:

"Many consider Travis Banton the greatest film designer. Here's one reason why: Midnight blue brocade forms this amazing tunic with a delicate pattern of golden plumes traced over it, worn over gold lame harem pants and gold high-heeled evening sandals. Accented by a gold lame belt with a square jeweled buckle. ... The ensemble is so striking that Lombard even has a line about it, asking William Powell if he likes her new pajamas."

The character Godfrey probably likes them, though he'd never come out and say it. As for Powell... well, while he was still fond of his ex-wife, he knew the question was rhetorical, given his involvement with Jean Harlow and Carole's with Clark Gable.

We thank Noh for identifying the outfit's colors, which leads one to ask: When "Godfrey" was colorized, did the folks with their computerized paint-by-numbers get it right? Let's see:

Not quite -- no wonder Irene looks a bit down. (Then again, when the colorization process was at its peak in the late '80s, someone notoriously made Frank Sinatra's famed blue eyes brown.)

The tunic: Yet more proof of Banton's fashion genius.

  • Current Mood
    enthralled enthralled