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SCREEN STYLE

FASHION : Now, That's Costuming!

May 05, 1994|BETTY GOODWIN

The Movie: "That's Entertainment! III."

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The Setup: The stars of MGM musicals of the late '30s through the late '50s introduce footage and outtakes from the films (including "Till the Clouds Roll By," pictured above).

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The Costume Designers: Adrian, Walter Plunkett, Helen Rose and Irene. All except Plunkett were full-time studio employees.

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The Look: Before there was black-spandex attitude, as seen on MTV, there was style. Sure, there were duds aplenty, but when the studio costume departments were in full swing, the sewing machines churned out some real showstoppers.

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Hit: Don't miss such scene-stealers as Carmen Miranda in "Nancy Goes to Rio," who wears a headdress of paper cocktail umbrellas, courtesy of Rose. But the less-is-more approach proves timeless. Rose and Plunkett show a great understanding of throwaway chic in dressing Cyd Charisse for a dance number in "It's Always Fair Weather." Picture a straight skirt, just below the knees, a turtleneck sweater, belt and pumps. Gene Kelly wears the equivalent in such films as "Summer Stock," in which he leaps through the sky in rolled-up trousers, jersey top, two-tone penny loafers and white socks.

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Trend Watch: Tuxedos and tails span the heyday of musicals. Eleanor Powell leads the way in a swank tail suit and top hat in "Broadway Melody of 1938," followed by Fred Astaire in a tail suit in "Ziegfeld Follies" (1946), and Judy Garland in her signature tuxedo jacket and tights in an "Easter Parade" outtake (1948) and in "Summer Stock" (1950).

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Miss: The unsupervised wardrobes of the movie's contemporary narrators underscore how desperately some stars require fashion direction. Seeing Ann Miller and Esther Williams in luncheon suits and trousers makes one crave Liza Minnelli, a vision in Halston and Elsa Peretti jewelry, in the original "That's Entertainment!"

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Sources: Costumes were made by MGM.

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