“Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is.” -Mae West
The Golden Age of Hollywood. From the 1920s through the 1930s, MGM ruled the silver screen and the palm tree lined streets of Los Angeles. They sculpted and bleached farm girls from Iowa into sexy sirens and national icons. They built expansive theatres and premiered to packed houses, both making and spending excessive profits. As the rest of the nation fell into the Great Depression, Hollywood prospered. Private country clubs, rooftop swimming pools, fame and fortune…To those with stars in their eyes and gold in their pockets, Hollywood and its lush landscape was their playground.
So naturally it makes for the perfect destination date! This walk of fame is the third in my series of era-themed dream dates and it couldn’t be more real – I live here! Every day, I see only Hollywood’s glittering past; the fabulous tinsel town it must have been. The nostalgia is tangible.
Tweeze those brows into arches, paint on some gorgeous red lips, and slip into a premiere-worthy Vionnet dress. I think it’s…Cleopatra tonight? Ah, so many premieres, so little time.
The 1930s: A date in the Golden Age
Setting: Strolling the iconic boulevard, jeweled clutch in hand, the sun setting over the Hollywoodland sign in the distance, palm trees swaying in the dry warm breeze, silhouettes against a purple-hued sky…It’s Hollywood, darling, and no one’s uttered the word “depression” since the Golden Age of film sprinkled diamonds and furs across the city. You have two tickets to the premiere of Jekyl & Hyde at Graumann’s theatre; balcony seats naturally since your date belongs to the same private club as the director. The film is phenomenal and rounds of applause ring out as the velvet curtains draw. But the party is far from over. In fact, it’s just beginning. The Roosevelt is calling and the whiskey there is de-vine. Conversation and charm has always been your forte, and cocktail after sweetened cocktail smooths your words and has you purring like a glamourpuss. The hotel bar begins to empty out and you freshen up in the luxurious powder room before stepping out into the pale light of morning. You realize you haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday and grab what could either be called a really late or a really early bite to eat at a coffee shop on Hollywood and Vine, opting for black coffee and dry toast. It was one hell of a night. You better rest up before the Biltmore’s fabulous party in 12 hours. (Hollywood&Vine: allenellenberger.com)
Outfit: A slinky bias cut gown in the style of Madeline Vionnet, with ruffled flutter sleeves and a jeweled brooch at the v. Not to be outdone by sparkling heels and a beaded clutch, of course. It gets chilly at night on the boulevard; thank goodness for velvet capes. (velvet cape: garbohvintage, black bias cut dress: DaisyandStella)
Conversation: Film, film, film, film, film!! Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, Ginger Rogers. The introduction of the horror film genre: Dracula, Frankenstein, and King Kong. Memories of the day the Intolerance set came down in 1919. Cleopatra winning the Academy Award. Provocative female artists such as Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe. Photographers Ansel Adams and Man Ray. And, of course, the tragedies of the era: the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, Hitler and the Nazi party’s rise to power in Germany, the Hindenburg explosion, and the dust bowl dust storm in Texas. (starlets: profilesinhistory.com, Dracula: the vampirenetwork.com, camera: vint, other photos: wikipedia)
Music: Sounds to dance and sway to brought to you by Fred Astaire and Judy Garland (Fred Astaire & ginger Rogers: alftg.com, Judy Garland: hurrellphotography.com)
Next week, I’ll be ducking into a cafe, kissing on the banks of the Seine, and dancing the night away at a jazzy soiree in war-torn Paris. 1940’s Paris, je t’aime!