Thursday, February 16, 2012

History's Runway: A Costume Design for Wendy Hiller, 1935

Dress Design for Wendy Hiller, c. 1935
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Wendy Hiller (1912-2003) was trained at the Manchester Repertory Theatre in 1930 and made her West End debut, to exceptional acclaim. In 1935, at the apex of her illustrious carrer, Miss Hiller appeared as Sally Hardcastle in “Love on the Dole.”  Later, she went on to star in countless roles on the stage and, then, in film and television.  Her grand career led to being awarded a DBE (Dame of the British Empire) in 1975.

Here, we see a pencil and watercolor costume design for Dame Wendy Hiller.  The drawing shows a side view of an elegant lady with her auburn hair swept back into a low bun. She is depicted wearing a pink dress with cap sleeves trimmed with pearls, a row of pearls, and elbow-length white opera gloves.

The costume sketch is unsigned, but it is inscribed “Miss Wendy Hiller. Heavy Silk Dress Flamingo Pink. Organza Pleated Insets. Large Chiffon Scarves in Three (underlined) Pinks.”

The drawing dates to about 1935.  It’s not certain which of her shows the costume was for.  Perhaps it was a drawing for a gown for her to wear personally.

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