i. love. gene. kelly.
i’ve recently developed a fixation on “singin’ in the rain,” which i managed to watch four times in the space of a week. one thing that struck me particularly about the production was the amazing costumes. debbie reynolds and the other women in the film wear amazing clothing — shirtwaist dresses, circle skirts, sweaters with nipped-in waists, gorgeous gorgeous frocks. kelly and reynolds work really well together too. i just watched “an american in paris” last night, and, while it was also a brilliant production, leslie caron just can’t match kelly’s ebullience the way reynolds can. there’s certainly an appealing innocence and ingenue quality to her looks, and she dances as if she were born with toe shoes attached to her feet, but her continental mystery lacks good ol’ american spunk. (costumes in “american in paris” are also jaw-droppingly beautiful. and the music, of course, is fantastic.) but gene kelly could very well be the masculine ideal: all charming suavity, easy grace, and self-assured sexiness. yowza. and god, his dancing! does anyone move like that anymore? and it’s not just his choreographed movement. his every gesture, his gait, his timing — i find myself totally transfixed. i can’t believe betsy blair left him (and according to this week’s new yorker, she’s still kicking herself as well). fred astaire? elegant schmelegant. give me kelly the athlete, kelly the scrappy hero, kelly with the brawny arms and the smile that could charm the pants off of the church lady. he codirected “singin’ in the rain”! he was an econ major!

i’ve also lately discovered a fascination with old-school fashion designers, specifically madame gres and mainbocher. i found a book at the tate with a sampling of gres’ designs and they are, simply put, astonishing. some interest in her designs resurfaced a few seasons ago and versions of her grecian column gowns popped up all over the runways, but none of these contemporary versions came close to the ingenuity and the drama of her creations. and mainbocher i long for because he endowed his dresses with the perfect distillation of femininity and classic beauty (and yes, this seems counter to my uniform of cords and sweats, but there’s a girly girl lurking deep down somewhere that i haven’t quite killed off yet). as far as current designers go,i think badgley mischka come close, and zac posen offers a particular brand of elegance and 50s glamour in his designs. i think mainbocher has flitted into my brain because of the katharine graham autobiography i’ve been reading. though i think she later favored halston, i think she wore a mainbocher to capote’s black & white ball. man, how cool would it be to live back then? (well, and to run in those circles, naturally.)


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