Friday, August 28, 2009

1930s Deco Perfection

Take a look at Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, and Kay Francis. All long and lean--well, not really, of the three ladies, only Kay Francis was actually tall: 5'9" (1.75 Meters) Crawford was 5'5" and Lombard 5'2"! Hollywood had the art of illusion down pat, especially in the 1930s. I love finding photographs of 1930s stars done in a Deco-style setting. It drives home the fact that movie stars were truly at their peak of prestige and the most desirable objects--yes, objects--of the general public's fantasy during that time. It sure makes for some striking imagery.

Carole Lombard

When people think of glamour, they must think of the 1930s, an era so glamorous--at least when it came to Hollywood--that it is today--as it no doubt was then--largely unattainable because of its very perfection. 1930s gowns leave very little to the imagination: The long, satin, backless gowns expose every flaw and one must have a wonderful build to carry off this look. The short hair popular for women then isn't flattering to every face, either. You should see my wife's grandmother's 1930s nursing school yearbook--so many tragic attempts at beauty with disastrous "done at home" hairstyles--discombobulated bobs, crispy-fried Marcels...if it weren't so hilarious, it'd be four-hanky material. So many women mutilated by well-meaning friends and incompetent, small town hairstylists of semi-rural, Mid-West America. The 1940s, with its stacked shoulder pads, imposed "V" shape, and abundance of fabric is a whole lot easier to emulate because no matter what the body type, it can be done. Not so with the 1930s.

Kay Francis


  1. You're so right! I can't see anything on the goddess La Lovely Lombard that would look good on anyone else. And talk about illusions; I still can't believe she was only 5'2! Makes me, at my 5'3 frame think I can be just as glamorous.

    Lovely post by the way.

  2. Love your blog and also your love for the classics. I haven't seen a great amount of classics but your blog really makes me want to see more.

  3. Encore Ent: People like to badmouth Joan Crawford, but I like her, especially during the Thirties. George Hurrell took the photograph...

    Gracie: Lombard had me fooled, too!

    Jimmy: Thanks for stopping by! Do you have Turner Classic Movies? It's *the* place for investigating classic films!

  4. I liked this post! Very amusing, thank you!

  5. Let's get cracking on a time machine!!!!

  6. Lombard's precise height has been debated for some time; she's been listed at everything from 5-foot-2 to 5-foot-6 ( I personally agree with the 5-foot-4 1.2 or therabouts from Larry Swindell's book "Screwball," probably because Carole doesn't look very diminutive in the pictures I see her in. ..even standing next to the likes of Clark Gable, who was at least six feet tall. Then again, since women were shorter in those days, a 5-foot-2 Lombard wouldn't look all that timy compared to her cinematic sisters.

  7. wow amazing photos. where did you find them?

  8. Wonderful photos. I love the women of this era. So glam and gorgeous.

  9. C.K.: Just look at that picture of Joan Crawford! Oh my God.

    Tell me what you think, and be truthful: If I stare at that photo long enough, do you think I can re-materialize in the photo, off-stage left, and then come walking into the frame - dressed in a suit and jacket with broad lapels and tails - to be greeted by a Crawford smile and outstretched hand? If such a thing is not possible, humor me.

    OK. Here we go. I'm staring . . . -- Mykal


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