Theme Month! February 2020: Extravagant Costumes

Silent movies are beautiful from head to toe and this month is all about the silents that went the extra mile with their costuming. Film costuming is a favorite topic of mine, so I am very much looking forward to this.

Beads, feathers, embroidery, big headdresses, enormous trains, the list of wonderful costuming details goes on and in. To give you a preview, here are some especially sumptuous films I have already reviewed:

Why Change Your Wife? features the designs of Natacha Rambova and oh boy are they gorgeous! Bonus points for eveningwear, lingerie AND swimwear all in the same picture.

Aelita: Queen of Mars helped invent the sci-fi aesthetic as we know it.

Asphalt is the very essence of 1920s glamour and Betty Amann’s lashes go on for days.

Ben-Hur, like most biblical epics, went all out in costuming its cast.

The 1912 Cleopatra is not as sumptuous as the lost Theda Bara version but there’s still much to see in the costume department.

Conrad Veidt’s wardrobe in The Indian Tomb is worth the price of admission on its own.

Warning Shadows features some gloriously stylized Directoire costumes.

I realize that I am barely scratching the surface. Please share some of your favorite silent era extravagant costumes in the comments.


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  1. Linda

    Great subject! I loved Irene Rich’s costuming in “Lady Windermere’s Fan”, especially during the horse-racing scene. It’s also great testament to the older woman owning her power through her clothes.

  2. Daniel Duclos

    Great subject !
    From Expressionism to Glamourous Art Deco dresses, the 20th were certainly the greatest period for extravagance.
    Some examples can be founded in Tob Browning works, specially in The Mystic with top Erte dresses.
    A look at french avant garde such as L’inhumaine ou L’argent may be fruitfull.

  3. popegrutch

    Let’s see, the first thing that came to my mind also was “intolerance.” Not my favorite movie, but undeniably strong in costumes and production design. I would also nominate “Cabiria,” “The Curse of Quon Gwon,” and “Joan the Woman.”

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