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Gowns by Adrian : The MGM Years 1928-1941 Hardcover – October 1, 2001

24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The famous 1930s Hollywood couturier Adrian is handled with kid-gloves in Howard Gutner's Gowns by Adrian: The MGM Years 1928-1941, the first book on the designer. Ever the perfectionist, "he treated the costumes of a chorus girl or extra with the same care, taste, and wit that he lavished on Garbo's crinolines in Camille," says Gutner. Replete with images Eva von Berne in petit point lace; Madge Evans in fluted ruffles at the neck, a peplum at the hips and a bouffant skirt; Joan Crawford in white silk crepe and black bugle beads; and plenty of costumes that never made it to the final cut and the ins and outs of both the fashion and the movie industries, this handsome book will please fashionistas and film folk.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Any longtime Hollywood fan would readily agree that nothing succeeded like excess--especially in the movies of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. And much of that success, claims researcher-editor Gunter, was due not only to the skills of such stars as Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford but also to the genius of one little-known costume designer--Gilbert Adrian, or simply Adrian, as L.A. dubbed him. The book starts with Adrian's predilection for the arts--born of talented parents and educated at Parsons--and, from there, almost instantaneous stardom when he joined MGM in 1924. Stars mentioned and movies cited will be familiar to almost anyone, including Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story, Greta Garbo as Mata Hari, and the wacky and wonderful Wizard of Oz. Best yet are the photographs, mainly in black and white, that showcase memorable "still" moments and the elusive process of artistic creation. Filmography appended. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810908980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810908987
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,013,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By MOVIE MAVEN on December 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Let me state unequivocally that I know next to nothing about fashion, whether it be for the street or the stage. So when I was given "Gowns By Adrian" as a gift, I thought I'd flip through it casually and never look at it again. On the contrary, this is a book to treasure not just for its abundance of photographs (both black & white and color) but, more importantly, for its generously detailed description of MGM, the Hollywood studio system, itself, and how a man of genius, taste, dedication, discipline and talent fit into that system.
Howard Gutner's research must have taken him years and years, never mind the compiling and editing of that research. And it is all worth it. "Gowns By Adrian" takes us from Gilbert Adrian's first days at MGM, in 1928, when he replaced no less an artist that Erte, to 1941 when Adrian left MGM to open his own shop.
During those years, the designer created clothes for some of the most famous movies ever released and most of the famous movie stars who appeared in them: Norma Shearer as 'Marie Antoinette' and 'Juliet,' Joan Crawford as 'Flaemmchen' in "Grand Hotel," Jean Harlow as 'Kitty' in "Dinner At Eight," Katherine Hepburn as 'Tracy Lord' in "The Philadelphia Story" and Greta Garbo in everything she did for MGM from 1929 until she left in 1941 from "Anna Christie" to "Ninotchka" to "Two Faced Woman" and "Anna Karenina." Adrian's legacy to fashion for the average woman? A dress he designed for Joan Crawford in "Letty Lynton" was "knocked off" and sold 500,000 copies nation-wide.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Annick on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I own this book and I love it!
It showcases the one element that both the world of fashion and movies have to offer...glamour! I also love the fact that the magnificent, beautiful Norma Shearer is on the cover. An actress and star whose importance has been ignored for too long, and who deserves to be as well known as her contemporaries, such as Joan Crawford.
This book also has great and rare photos of the stars and the designer himself. It also offers great behind the scenes anecdotes, the chapter on the movie "The Women" is worth the price of the book alone.
For anyone who is interested in either fashion or movie history, here is a book to satisfy both these interests.
Highly recommended!!!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer E. Williams on January 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Adrian was more than just a fashion designer, he was a rare artistic and creative genius. In only thirteen years at MGM, he designed the costumes for nearly 200 films...many of them classics today! He also had a hand in cultivating images for many of the movie stars of that era, such as Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer. His ultimate genius pictures are "The Women" where the costumes are just as big of stars as the actresses in the film and "Marie Antoinette", the elegance and grandeur of which have rarely been repeated! This book is filled with beautiful photographs of Adrians sketches and gowns. There are some beautiful color photographs of some of the opulent gowns from "Marie Antoinette" that are just gorgeous. Excellent purchase for any film or fashion fan!!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J B on June 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have two favourite things to do - sew doll clothes and study classic cinema, and this book inspires both. I didn't know much about Adrian before - I was always seeing his name in credits for MGM movies, and when I heard about this book I thought, "Hey, let's get it from the library and see what it's all about." I was completely pulled into the book right away.
There is a lot of text, all very informative and easy to read, and it is perfectly balanced by a whole parade of sumptuous black and white photographs of ladies gowned by Adrian, movie stills of the ladies in his designs, and several of Adrian's sketches for the dresses. I have looked at this book so many times and always find something new and interesting. I'm working on reading through it, but I am always reading here and there in it anyway, and in the filmography in the back I've been underlining the titles of all the movies he designed for that I have seen. (Quite a few, but not nearly all!) I am beginning to be able to tell just from looking at a dress in a movie whether it's one of Adrian's or not - and that's not just because I'm hearing the lion roar before the credits, either - he had a very definitive style, and when you expose yourself to enough of it, you immediately recognise it. Adrian could be bizarre and innovative in a very classy way. He knew what was right for the actress who would wear the dress, knew how to make the dresses play into the scenes in which they would be worn. He also believed that a dress should have "one note", or one thing about it that stood out and made it unique from any other gown - beading, embroidery, whatever - and I think that this is why even his more ordinary gowns had a certain look to them.
This book is an education and a delight and everyone interested in fashion history, movie history, or just beautiful things should have this on their coffee table.
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