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Style Focus – Best Dressed Bette

March 5, 2010

Our bombshell of the week is Bette Davis – ten times Oscar nominated, twice Oscar winner. Never classed as the greatest looking bombshell on the block, Bette however had style, charisma, wit and fight in abundance.

And, in her youth, modelling here in two fashion shots from 1934, she looked utterly stunning, in a kooky way – with her eyes of course always the focus of the picture.

Bette’s first Oscar win was in 1936, for her role as down on her luck actress, Joyce Heath, in Dangerous. The character was inspired by Jeanne Eagels, one of Bette’s idols. She was determined to look like an actress on the skids, and insisted Orry-Kelly design appropriate costumes – with the obligatory bit of fur here and there of course.

Clockwise from top left, Bette Davis in: Dangerous; Dark Victory; Now, Voyager and Dark Victory

In Dark Victory there was more fur, as Bette plays a young hedonistic Long Island socialite, who loves to party, but whose life is thrown into chaos when she discovers she is dying from a brain tumour. Costumes once again designed by Orry-Kelly are opulent and beautifully made – her white ruffled evening dress, and her fur hat and throw combo, two of note.

For Now, Voyager Bette, who actively pursued the role in the film as Charlotte Vale, an unattractive, overweight, repressed spinster whose life is dominated by her dictatorial mother who finally gets free and heads off on a cruise to ‘find herself’, consulted with designer Orry-Kelly on costume design, and she suggested a drab outfit, including an ugly foulard dress for Charlotte initially, to contrast with the stylish, ‘timeless’ creations that mark her later appearance on the cruise ship, like the elegant two-tone dress with matching hat.

In All About Eve, for which Bette was Oscar nominated in 1951, she plays ageing Broadway star, Margo Channing, and her dress for her role as party hostess at her house is this gorgeous black Edith Head designed number.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen permalink
    March 2, 2011 11:55 pm

    Love your blog! just wanted to say that this Edith Head dress of Bette’s was chocolate brown with brown fur! It didn’t fit Bette either when it came time to shoot so Edith had to sew it on to her and leave it off the shoulders instead of being higher up. Could have been disastrous but was a great success instead!

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