Last week’s Rate the Dress discussion was everything I could hope for from a blog post: lively debate, outside research, and a little mischief.
Opinions on Charles James’ anatomical dress differed greatly, even among individual people, mostly because of the colour. Was the dress palest peach and marigold orange, as in the image I posted? Or was it pale peach and dark peach, as in the Met’s current image? Most of you liked it better as the second, but Cecil Beaton’s photograph of James’ frocks for Vogue suggests that pale and orange was the designers intention (thanks Steph for finding it!). With ratings ranging from 1 to 10, the frock evened out with a rating of 7.2. Not bad for a dress that was described as ‘labial folds’ and ‘baby poo’!
This week I move away from young girls dressed as women, and very womanly dresses, to a womanly woman dressed as a young girl. Norma Shearer was 34 when she played the teenage heroine of Romeo and Juliet. As much as I adore and respect Shearer in other ways, I think that agreeing to play Juliet was a silly, silly thing for her to do. She was completely the wrong age, completely the wrong look, completely the wrong temperament, and unsuited to Shakespeare in general. Shearer claimed that she “always chose sophisticated parts because you can’t really be interesting as a young girl or outstanding as an ingenue.” Clearly she broke that rule with Romeo and Juliet, as you can’t get a more archetypical ingenue than Shearer’s starry eyed Juliet (with a pet fawn!)
While critics raked the film, and Shearer, over the coals, it did receive praise for its artistic design which was directly inspired by Renaissance artists. One memorable costume has Shearer in a dress taken from Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus. Shearer claimed to have a hand in her own costumes, saying “somehow or other I always got myself rigged up in something sensational.”
The dress is certainly interesting and very innocent and youthful, all organza puffs and floral garlands, plus a floral crown. You decide if Norma’s costume was a better choice than her role.
Rate the dress on a scale of 1 to 10