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WALTER PLUNKETT Greatest, yet least well-known Costume Designer of Hollywood’s Golden Age


WALTER PLUNKETT Pre – 1930’s

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Born June 5, 1902 in Oakland, California 1922 – Graduated as pre-law student 1923 – Worked as stage actor, costume and set designer in NYC 1925 – Moved to Hollywood to become a famous actor but is not successful 1926 – Hired at FBO 1929 – FBO became RKO and Plunkett was promoted to be a designer

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT 1929 - 1931 Worked on such early sound films as… • Street Girl with Betty Compson • Rio Rita with Rita Dolores del Rio • Cimarron with Irene Dunne

His designs for Irene Dunne popularized the broad-shouldered silhouette of the 1930s!

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Cimarron, 1931 The 1890s leg-o-mutton sleeves designed by Walter Plunkett for Irene Dunne in Cimarron

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT 1930 - 1935 • •

1930 – Operated his own atelier at Western Costume Company 1932 – Became head designer and manager of RKO’s wardrobe department

Film projects included: • • • • • • •

King Kong (1933) Morning Glory (1933) Little Women (1933) Flying down to Rio (1934) The Gay Divorcee (1934) Strictly Dynamite (1934) The Three Musketeers (1935)

1935 – 1936: Quit RKO and worked as ready-to-wear designer at Seventh Avenue Manufacturing Concern in NYC

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT They Gay Divorcee, 1934

Flying Down to Rio, 1934 The “Barely There” Gown for Ginger Rogers in Flying Down to Rio, (1934)

Strictly Dynamite, 1934

Lupe Velez in Strictly Dynamite (1934)

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in The Gay Divorcee, (1934)

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Little Women, 1933

Little Women (1949) Designed by Walter Plunkett 1. Janet Leigh “Meg” 2. June Allyson “Jo”

Little Women (1949) Designed by Walter Plunkett 1. Edna May Oliver “Aunt March” burgundy dress 2. Elizabeth Taylor “Amy March” lavender dress 3. Katharine Hepburn “Jo” brown dress

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Little Women, 1933

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT 1936 - 1939 • •

1936 – 1939: Worked for RKO again 1937 – Started freelancing for film, Broadway and the Metropolitan Opera

Film projects included: • • • • • • •

Mary of Scotland (1936) A Woman Rebels (1936) Quality Street (1937) Nothing Sacred (1937) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938) Stagecoach (1939) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

Plunkett was now recognized as Authority on Period Costumes

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Mary of Scotland, 1936

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2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT A Woman Rebels, 1936 (1939)

Strictly Dynamite, 1939

Plunkett's costume design for Esmeralda in Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

Carole Lombard in Strictly Dynamite (1939)

Notre Dame, 1939

Katherine Hepburn in A Woman Rebels (1936)

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Gone with the Wind, 1939

• •

1938 – Started working on David Selznick’s saga of the Civil War South, Gone with the Wind Studied authentic sources for his designs by travelling the South

Gone with the Wind was a motion pictures sensation and his most famous work besides Singin’ in the Rain (1952) • Went on to win 7 Academy Awards

Many more collaborations with Selznick followed

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT The “Barbeque Dress” in Gone with the Wind, 1939 1939 •

Most Influential Motion Picture

Plunkett designed over 5000 clothing pieces for over 50 main characters

“Barbeque Dress” was most widely copied dress after Duchess of Windsor’s wedding dress

Inspired (Wedding) Fashion: • Full skirts worn over crinolines • Frills and Ruffles as touchstones of femininity • Revival of snoods, petticoats and corsets

Produced a merchandising blitz unlike any other period film in history

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

Gown by Best & Co., found in BRIDES magazine

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Gone with the Wind, 1939

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Gone with the Wind, 1939

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Gone with the Wind, 1939

Plunkett with Leigh in the “White Prayer Dress“.

Scarlett O’Hara’s green velvet curtain gown designed by Plunkett.

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Gone with the Wind, 1939 Scarlett O’Hara’s red velvet gown designed by Plunkett.

Scarlett O’Hara’s green stripe walking gown designed by Plunkett.

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Gone with the Wind, 1939 Scarlett O’Hara’s dressing gown designed by Plunkett.

Plunkett's concept sketch of the gown Scarlett wears to Ashley's birthday party.

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Gone with the Wind, 1939

Scarlett O’Hara’s black and white striped dress designed by Plunkett.

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT 1940 - 1964 •

1940 – 1947: Continued working as freelance designer

1940 – 1941: Operated his own shop to do period costumes for important productions for all studios

1947 – Signed contract with MGM as lead designer

Film projects included: • • • • • • •

The Sea of Grass (1947) Green Dolphin Street (1947) Adam’s Rip (1949) An American in Paris (1951) Kiss Me Kate (1953) Diane (1956) How The West Was Won (1962)

1951 – Received Academy Award for An American in Paris

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Adam’s Rib, 1949 Houndstooth robe for Katherine Hepburn as Amanda Bonner in Adam’s Rib (1949) designed by Walter Plunkett

Robe for 'Amanda Bonner' in Adam’s Rib (1949) designed by Walter Plunkett

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Singin’ in the Rain, 1952

An American in Paris, 1951

Costumes designed by Walter Plunkett for Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain (1952).

Walter Plunkett’s costume design for Leslie Caron in An American in Paris, 1951

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT Diane, 1956 Diane (1956) 1. Lana Turner “Diane de Poitiers – Countess de Breze” black satin gown 2. Marisa Pavan “Catherine de Medici” green velvet and satin court gown

Diane (1956) 1. Lana Turner “Diane de Poitiers” champagne velvet pearl-encrusted court gown 2. Marisa Pavan “Catherine de Medici” rose velvet court gown

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT The Costumes that helped make Kate Great • Hepburn and Plunkett worked on 11 pictures together, most of them demanded period costumes • In an interview, Hepburn recalled Plunkett’s work in Adam’s Rib: “ He did a marvelous job on that and he hadn’t done modern cloths for years because all the things he did a metro were costume… and he made me some absolutely marvelous dresses that were quite unlike anything that I had ever worn… (We) just got on splendidly. He could use me and I could use him and that’s the great combination… One has the same smell.”

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT 1965 - 1982

1965 – Retired from film industry

Personally refurbished the original dresses in the David O. Selznick Archive shortly before his death

1982 – Died on March 8 in Santa Monica, California

Walter Plunkett was well-liked for his generous and easygoing nature, as well as his creativity and inventiveness!

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

The Great Depression and The New Deal


WALTER PLUNKETT The Influence of Movie Costumes Actress Lana Turner examines cotton stockings, wearing a smart knee-length suit with square shoulders, in this Farm Security Administration of 1941

Movie-going public saw one or two films per week during Great Depression Movie costumes were covered in film fan magazines and influential fashion magazines and promoted a chic, more opulent look Throughout the 1930s and early '40s, American cinema was a great source for ideas and film costumes heavily influenced designers around the world. Retail clothing and accessories inspired by period costumes influenced what women wore until war-time restrictions on fabric stopped the flow of lavish costumes from Hollywood. Some of those trends are captured in pictures taken by FSA photographers.

Mona Johanna Thelemaque

2 April 2013

Queen Elisabeth wears long gloves with a short-sleeved dress and dramatic hat to visit the 1939 New York World’s Fair

The Great Depression and The New Deal


THE END


Personalities of the Great Depression: Walter Plunkett