Monday, 24 February 2014

Old Movie Madness - The Divorce of Lady X (and a bit of scene setting waffle)

So, I'm finally back with my film fashion stuff.  It's take a while but OMIGOD - dating really takes up a lot of time.  I used to blog, knit and watch old movies constantly but I rarely seem to get daytimes to myself these days.  Still, he's a keeper.  :-)

This weekend though I managed quite a bit of "me time" (what a terribly twee and yet accurate phrase that is).  On Saturday I met up with a dear chum and did some excellent charity shopping - see my haul below!  Yards and yards of chunky yarn in a delicious French navy, a dressing table set of hairbrush, clothes brush and mirror and some lovely bangles.

 I've probably got too much yarn and too many bangles as it is but - what the hey!  Look at Marlon photobombing the yarn pic.  Vain little fuzzbeast.

Sunday, the chap had to go and see his mother and so I got in some up close and personal time with my mending and sorting jobs.  I've now organised my mending pile and hope to tackle one thing a week.  I've also had a huge knitting clear out and am donating all my odds and sods of yarn to the above mentioned chum who is far more creative than I and who will, I'm sure, be able to make something from them.

I like company when I'm tidying, usually a radio play or a non taxing film on in the background to chivvy me along.  For this session I chose The Divorce of Lady X (1938) and little Lord Fauntleroy (1936).

I've been meaning to watch Lady X for some time, it was made in one of my favourite fashion years (I love 36-40 best of all I think) and it stars Larry Olivier.  Oh....Larry.  That voice!

The film opens in London in the middle of a real pea-souper of a foggy day.  The bright young things across town are trapped at their parties, Leslie Steele (Merle Oberon), being one of them.  She has been attending a costume party at a hotel and is forced to stay the night.  No rooms are available but Leslie uses her considerable wit and charm to convince the very dapper and gentlemanly divorce lawyer Everard Logan (Olivier) into giving her his bed, while he sleeps in the lounge.

Logan believes the young lady to be married and being a decent sort of chap makes no advances.  He is later horrified when Lord Mere asks him to represent him inn his divorce, after finding out Lady Mere had spent that evening in the same hotel with a man.  Surely the two women must be one and the same!

Ah, the fashions of 38.  Ah, Merle Oberon's tiny little cat face.  Here are some of my favourite outfits:

This off the face saucer hat with diamante clasps at the hairline is just a fabulous way to frame her beautiful face.  The hat is balanced by huge fur across the shoulders and an enormous muff (I can't type that without giggling - I'm such a child).  The column of black is relieved by that classic 30s touch of a large bow - here in a pale blue - a colour repeated throughout the film.

Again, more pale blue.  This hostess/dressing gown as worn by supporting actress Binnie Barnes, features the most beautiful scalloped detail down the front.  What you can't see well here is that it is worn with trousers.

Another dressing gown here, sadly I could not find a colour picture.  It is the most beautiful emerald green with bands of gold running down the arms.  I actually gasped seeing this.

Binnie again, in a simple an classically late 30s full length evening dress with an enormous corsage at the bust.

Another largely black outfit for Merle - with a sweet pointed hat.

Other treasures I have been unable to find pictures of were a leopard hat and gloves set (swoon), a full length short pile white fur coat and a two tone suit with a jaunty little peplum and a pale blue ankle length cape.

This is one of those movies that oozes fashion.  not as much as The Women - my all time favourite fashion film, but the clothes here certainly make a statement.

Costumes are by Rene Hubert, who had worked with Jean Patou.  Hubert also designed for Vivien Leigh in That Hamilton Woman and for the Four Feathers, among many other films.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film, there was a great chemistry between the two leads and the bright Technicolour used worked especially well to contrast between foggy London and the gay abandon of the parties going on under it's roofs.  While the plot is somewhat predictable Oberon is so likeable you can forgive the weakness of the story line.

Definitely worth whiling away some time knitting along to.

Speaking of knitting, Larry doesn't look too impressed.

The film is available on YouTube.

Happy watching!


  1. thank you for sharing, can´t wait so see the movie... xxx

  2. Merle is one of my favorites and her outfit with the saucer hat is divine! I have yet to see this film, but I'll add it to my list. Like you, I like the company of a good film while doing chores.

    Great finds as well, I love the dresser set.

  3. That dressing table set is a big WIN.

    I haven't watched an old British film in ages... really should rectify that!

  4. I used to work for Binnie and her husband, Mike Frankovich, who ran the UK division of Columbia back in the day.
    lasted for 12 years, 24/7 a day, until we closed the office due to time and tide in 1995.
    Met everyone and anyone.
    My favorite scene in that movie is when Binnie flings her hairbrush at her husband in the beginning. She and Merle Oberon started out as tea girls and were discovered from thereon.
    Many fond memories.