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A black and white image of a very refined woman from the 1930s dressed in fur and heavy eye make-up

Film

Fashions of 1934

Unclassified 15+

17 Oct - 14 Nov

Orry-Kelly’s designer frocks take centre stage in this early 1930s Warner Bros musical drama that unfurls from within the inner workings of the (pirated) fashion industry. William Powell stars as wheelin’ and dealin’ Sherwood Nash, who intercepts shipments of the latest fashions from Paris to have them photographed and eventually copied. When his scheme quickly goes pear-shaped, Nash, ever the optimist, heads directly to Paris with fashion designer Lynn Mason (Bette Davis) and his sidekick, Snap (Frank McHugh).

Tickets: $7. Member discounts available.
  • The trio heads straight to couturier Oscar Baroque, where they are treated to a lavish fashion parade, where Davis gives Snap the nod to take covert photos whenever a design to her liking comes along. The French, however, are quickly onto them.

    Along with solid performances from the top-notch cast, Fashions of 1934 was a perfect arena for Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly to flex his fashion muscles. In a note to studio head Jack Warner, producer Hal B. Wallis feared that pre-publicity for the film focused too heavily on Orry-Kelly’s glorious creations and not enough on other aspects of the film: “We have a very sprightly, bright musical comedy, beautifully done, with a great [Busby] Berkeley number in it and a picture that has been rated equal to Forty-Second Street."

    This memo is on display in its entirety with a host of other rare ephemera in the free exhibition Orry-Kelly: Dressing Hollywood.