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Gowns by Adrian

"Gowns by Adrian," one of the most famous film credits of the l930s, is also the title of a new book about the career of the legendary Hollywood designer/couturier who believed that costume should mirror a character's mood. Adrian not only transformed his leading ladies into icons of style and significantly influenced American fashion of the time, but his work continues to inspire contemporary designers.

Virtually all of Adrian's film career was spent at MGM, and it is that period, 1928-1941, that is the focus of Howard Gutner's book. Gutner, an editor at a New York publishing company, devoted ten years to this first book ever on the designer; he not only had access to Adrian's MGM files, but in combing archives and libraries, uncovered scores of never-before-seen photographs.

Before Adrian, no costume designer had commanded such clout and respect in the film industry. Not only did Adrian tame Louis B. Mayer, but he also earned the trust of stars such as Garbo, Crawford, Shearer, and Rosalind Russell. Moreover, the films he worked on have become chestnuts of an important time in American movies: Grand Hotel, The Women, Ninotchka, The Philadelphia Story, The Wizard of 0z, and Dinner at Eight among others.

The publication of "Gowns by Adrian" this month is serendipitously timed to the Broadway opening on November 8 of the revival of The Women, with costumes by Isaac Mizrahi. For the 1939 film, Adrian created 237 gowns alone! The book devotes a chapter to the making of this celebrated movie and the coddling of its temperamental stars.

The MGM Years 1928-1941

By Howard Gutner
Publication date November 2001
183 illustrations, 174 in duotone, 9 in full color, 208 pages, 9x11¾"
ISBN: 0-8109-0898-0
Published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

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