Sunday, January 15, 2006

Veronica Lake

One picture is worth a thousand words, right?
Not necessarily!
Edith Head wrote about the difficulty of fitting Veronica Lake in her autobiography, Edith Head's Hollywood, (also by Paddy Calistro; E.P. Dutton, Inc.; New York; 1983) pages 53 - 4:
Her figure problems seemed insurmountable. She was short, like me, and very tiny--possibly the smallest normal adult i had ever seen. Her waist was the smallest in Hollywood, 20 3/4". That was 5 1/2" smaller than the average waist. Far from a designer's dream like Dietrich or Lombard. Yet everyone was telling me to make her into a sex symbol. She had a good bust, but I couldn't show it because of the Hays Office's anticleavage rules. I was forced to be extremely careful in every costume she wore. The fabrics I used in Veronica's clthes alays had some type of vertical interest; horizontal lies would shorten her. I devised meclines that called attention to her bust without actually exposing it. I always played up the fact that she had big breasts, which made her seem like a larger woman.
In her first film, Gulliver's Travels (1941), I dressed her in told lame and beaded gowns. She was sultry and an immediate hit. Veronica was married and was, unfortunately for me, very pregnant at the time we were making that film. The important question was: How do you photograph a girl so she does not appear pregnant? She can stand behind a piano. She can carry a large muff and you can assume it's a winter picture. Or, what was most successful for Veronica, she can carry a huge fan. Gulliver's Travels was full of these devices, but looking back there are still times when she looks lika a pudgy, short girl-- you can't do a whole movie behind a muff, fan, or piano. But by the end of the film I was an expert at concealing pregnancy. She became a sex symbol, so I must have done something right.
Maven just wishes Edith Head could design clothes that takes off pounds for Maven!
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