Yesterday, I saw the film The Tourist starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. The film is a good thriller, Hitchcock-like in its amazing twists and turns. The other thing very Hitchcock-like is how beautiful Angelina Jolie looks in the film, and how beautiful her costumes are. You literally can't keep your eyes off her and her amazing jewelry, gowns and dresses. From the film's opening, you are fascinated by her character, and her classic look. It's a very old school Hollywood look, and you never see her character, Elise, wearing pants, jeans or T-shirts. Elise is couture all the way. Elise even wears long gloves, with a cut-out for her watch so she can unbutton a fabric panel to see what time it is without taking off her gloves. While I was watching the movie, I couldn't stop thinking of some of the costumes in the movie, and how they reminded me of designer Irene Lentz's work in film, particularly the costumes she did for Doris Day in the 1960 movie Midnight Lace. The whole time I was watching The Tourist, I kept thinking of Irene. Well, that was kismet. When I looked at this week's People Magazine's StyleWatch, I learned that Irene was actually an inspiration for Angelina's costumes in the movie. "My inspiration for [Jolie's character] Elise's costumes were the Hitchcock movies: minimal elegance," Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood tells People. She credits the costume Angelina wears in the opening sequence, "an ivory sheath accented with a camel shawl and gloves" (pictured above) to garments that she was familiar with that had been designed by Irene. "That look was inspired by a dress designed by Irene [Lentz], who is a legendary costume designer," Atwood says. "I took the basic idea and added some flair to contemporize it. The original had a jacket, but I really wanted something a little more luxurious, so I created the cashmere wrap. I've always loved a glove, and was filming in the land of fine gloves, so I used a fine suede glove to finish the look." I love that Irene was an inspiration for this elegant look. I hope we see a return to more beautifully outfitted heroines in film after this movie. It's just so much more interesting to look at beautiful costumes on screen than it is to look at off the rack denim.
Recently, I had my own fashion encounter with Irene. After much searching, I finally bought an exquisite , pre-loved Irene jacket. The buttons on the jacket are a revelation. They are like delicate little pyramids rising from the fabric. Buttons were one of Irene Lentz's key design touches. She spent a lot of time selecting and designing the special buttons for her garments. The price for my timeless Irene was a mere $90.00. This jacket is one of my best fashion finds ever.
I consulted Irene expert Greg LaVoi after making my purchase. He told me, "That jacket will look wonderful with black pants or even jeans." Greg should know. He has the most amazing collection of Irene pieces and uses them effectively on the TV show The Closer to outfit detective Brenda, played by Kyra Sedgewick. In 2011, I hope to find a few more Irene's to augment my collection. I'll also have my eye on costume designer Colleen Atwood for an Oscar nomination for The Tourist. Irene, a leading costume supervisor at MGM in the 1940's, never won an Oscar despite being nominated twice. How sweet it would be if Colleen Atwood, inspired by Irene, could take home some Oscar gold. Ms. Atwood has my vote.