November 5th, 2019

carole lombard 02

Carole's forgotten fashion designer




When it comes to Carole Lombard and fashion, Travis Banton, her primary designer at Paramount, is usually the first name associated with them, followed by Irene Lentz Gibbons. But neither designed these Lombard cinematic outfits:






This entry is about the man who did. His name was Robert Kalloch, and if he had designed nothing else, this outfit worn by Claudette Colbert in "It Happened One Night" (1934) would cement his place in classic Hollywood lore:



Kalloch worked for Columbia; the first two Lombard pics are from "Twentieth Century," the last two from "Lady By Choice." He helped Harry Cohn's studio step up to the big leagues where Hollywood glamour was concerned.



Kalloch (1893-1947) was born in New York and co-designed with Banton. During the 1920s, he designed for the Ziegfeld Follies and other Broadway revues. In 1933, he became Columbia's first contract costume designer, a step up for the former Poverty Row studio. His work was renowned for its classic, graceful lines.

He took a break from Columbia following the death of his mother in June 1935, but returned the following year to work with the likes of Irene Dunne in "The Awful Truth":



In 1941, Kalloch moved to MGM, succeeding his friend Adrian, who had left the studio to found his own fashion firm. Wartime restrictions forced Kalloch to improvise -- which he often did to great success -- but his lack of experience with period fashions did not suit well with MGM head Louis B. Mayer. He left Metro in 1943, though he freelanced for the studio.

Kalloch was gay and lived with his lover, Joseph Demarais. At 6 a.m. on Oct. 19, 1947, Kalloch died of cardiac arrest. Some nine hours later, Demarais died of alcoholic fatty liver disease. Both deaths were ruled natural.

Those who study fashion history recognize Kalloch's brilliance designing for Lombard (shown below in "Brief Moment") and other stars.

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