Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wonder Man

Travis Banton
Not all of those are born in Texas are cowboys, let's make this clear from the beginning. Since I do say the name of Travis Banton (1894-1958), the first thing that comes to your mind is ... Hollywood! (and its great golden age!). Like you had already guessed, today's blog is about one of the most important and well-known designers of the great stars of yesteryear (and of his creations that are to die for!). The place where Mr. Banton developed his passion for fashion was New York, there he studied and there he started his career. It was then that the "It" girl of the moment, Mary Pickford (like if we say Jennifer Lawrence today), gave him the opportunity to take off his talent by choosing one of his wedding dresses for her wedding. Then the sensual designs for the musicals of Ziegfeld Follies came (Broadway surrendered at his feet, and who does not?), and from there his way to the west coast was a matter of time, of little time.

Mr. Banton with Carole Lombard
and Claudette Colbert.
So in the mid-20s, the Paramount put a contract on the table to dress the big stars. This Texan did not think it twice and there he went to what would be a movie future. His exquisite designs made of delicate fabrics (where silk could not be missed, of course) dressed elegantly the bodies of actresses like Claudette Colbert, Gail Patrick, Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich ... and more!, since Travis Banton is accredited in more than 250 movies. In the movies theaters, the women were enchanted not only by the rogue smile of Cary Grant, but also by the glamour that came off the screen. Those bias-cut dresses seemed inaccessible to the ordinary girls ("ah, who could have them!", they would think), and they kept dreaming. Movies like "Cleopatra" (1934), "Angel" (1937) or "Sangre y Arena" (1941) had the unmistakable stamp of Banton, his designs were treasured generation after generation by any self-respecting film lover.

Travis Banton and Marlene Dietrich.

Fifteen years later the shadow of Edith Head, who happened to be his assistant, was very long and the spiral of alcoholism in which he found himself caught put the icing for his hasty exit from the Paramount (insert sad face here). But the captivating dresses that moved to the beat of the greatest ones in Hollywood will be in our minds forever. Mr. Banton was a wonder man, definitely.

See you next week, vintage lovers!

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