Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cinema with Style First Edition: TO CATCH A THIEF

One of my favorite pastimes is watching movies. Whether classic films at home or new movies on the big screen, I love movies and learning everything about what comprises a great film (from the history behind the story to the costumes, set design & soundtracks). As a result, I have developed a love of biographies written about old movie stars as well. This new series is about the films I cannot live without & what they mean to me.


The 1955 classic Hitchcock film, based on the novel by David Dodge,  is somewhat eerie in that the winding French Riviera roads where Francie Stevens (Grace Kelly) recklessly drives a convertible with a frightened John Robie (Cary Grant) in the passenger seat are the same roads where Grace Kelly also veered off the road & lost her life in 1982.

However, the movie itself is uplifting in its beauty, attention to detail & thrillingly suspenseful story (a tale you can literally watch over & over again & still be on the edge of your seat). Edith Head does the costumes and the mix between Grecian Goddess & princess of the Riviera that she achieves may well be a career highlight for a costume designer whose career was a series of costuming successes. Grace Kelly's own granddaughter, Princess Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco, already a fashion icon in her own right, recently paid tribute to her grandmother's costuming by wearing a blue dress to part of her Uncle's wedding celebrations that was reminiscent of the gown Francie Stevens is wearing the first time we are formally introduced to her in the film (we see her briefly on the beach prior to that introduction when she watches John Robie swim ashore on the beach outside the beach club at Cannes).
Costume Designer Edith Head

Grace Kelly as Francie Stevens in Blue Dress

Charlotte Casiraghi Channeling her Grandmother in To Catch a Thief in Giambattista Valli at her Uncle, Prince Albert's Wedding Celebrations 

To Catch a Thief Barbie

The white dress Francie Stevens wears to a room service dinner where the dinner conversation is dripping with sexual innuendo far more seductive than the explicit sexuality typical of 21st century films is a dress that reflects the tone of the conversation. She is all in white,a regal gown that reaches the floor but the dress is strapless & reveals the diamond necklace (fake) that she hopes will lure John Robie into admitting his true identity & the fact that he has met his match. I often think that the dress in this scene has as much of an influence on contemporary wedding fashion (see every subpar strapless white gown flooding the market) as Grace Kelly's actual wedding dress (see Duchess of Cambridge/Ivanka Trump).

The White Dress

Seducing John Robie aka "The Cat" into..."Watching Fireworks"

Grace Kelly Real Life Wedding Dress (also "on location" in the South of France)

Ivanka Trump in Grace Kelly-Inspired Wedding Dress

Duchess of Cambridge in a Grace Kelly-Inspired Wedding Dress

Noticing a Theme?

I am often inspired to give a modern spin to my favorite To Catch a Thief costumes:

Francie Meeting John for a Swim in the Mediterranean

Later Inspired:

Francie Watching the Fireworks with John

Later Inspired:

and the following as well:

Francie Walks Down the Hall Determined to Kiss John for the First Time

Later Inspired:

 One of the best scenes in the movie is a picnic scene in Francie Stevens's convertible. Francie & John look out on the beauty of the Riviera but they have eyes only for one another & their verbal exchange reveals their mutual attraction for one another & the sizzling chemistry between Grant & Kelly (contrast with Audrey Hepburn & Grant in CHARADE, another amazing movie but one that reveals a more paternal love between Hepburn & Grant so they could address the age difference that perturbed Grant when signing on to the film).

 Above: The View of the Riviera for Francie & John's Picnic Lunch

Below: Two Movies & Two Separate Lessons in Chemistry

The Beach Club at Cannes is in fact the real life Carlton Hotel in Cannes, a location I happily visited two years ago on a day trip from my hostel in Nice. My traveling companions literally had to chase me down as I sprinted towards the scene of one of my top three favorite movies. Unfortunately, photographing the interior of the hotel is not permitted if you are a non-guest so I only have these pictures of the exterior until I can afford to upgrade from hostel to a hotel fit for a princess.

The Real Life Beach Club at Cannes: The Carlton Hotel in Cannes

Me in Front of the Carlton Hotel

More elements inspired by TO CATCH A THIEF:

KAFUMANFRANCO Gown Looks Similar to the Metallic of Francie's Costume at the Costume Ball with the Draping of the Blue Grecian Gown:

Looks Similar to John Robie's "I'm Just Your Average Retired Frenchman/Horticulturist" Look:

Looks similar to Francie's "You can have me and the necklace, have you ever had a better deal" look:

Victorias Secret Swimsuit

Karen Walker Tortoise Frames

Hermes Scarf

Looks Similar to Francie's "Why are mysterious men who swim ashore from boats driven by teenage french girls the most intriguing type of man" look:

Signing off for now but surely the inspiration from My Favorite Jewel Thief/American Heiress love story will continue in later posts.

I leave you with one of my favorite images:

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