fashion in film: black angel

I have a definite weakness for the film noir genre; especially what would be considered “B” 1940s films within this category. Black Angel (1946) falls within these parameters: a film noir, somewhat low-grade production, but is a bit of a gem fashion-wise. The film was made right at the crossroads of the decade’s styles, and is an interesting mix of the early 40s tailored look and the slight softening that would come with the late 40s. I hope you’re as inspired by some of the elements and looks as I was! (As usual, click on any images to see a larger version.)

The evening dress she wears in this scene is rather awful in my opinion (it’s covered in long fringe…), but the hair styling is beautiful! The softly-waved front and sides sweep back to be tucked into a low chignon. Which appears to be made up of a trio of bun-like arrangements. I’m itching to try this out for myself!

A checked peplum-jacket suit. You can see all the design details that make this a great little mid 40s suit: multiple darts in the jacket for a close fit, and a deep pleat at the back of the skirt to enable walking.

Some random bits and pieces of other outfits she wears. The open-brim hat (far left) is quite an interesting style (open brims seemed to have been popular around 1944-46, if my magazines are any indication), as is the large ginko-style leaf pin. A close up of another suit–I love how it’s been paired with a higher-neckline blouse and a choker of pearls (center). A “puritan” influenced blouse (far right)–another style very popular during the mid 40s.

I really have a weakness for checked coats and swing jacket styles! I love the beautifully detailed yoke along the shoulder (and the saddle shoulder is so unusual), and deep flair at the center back to give the coat even more swing and volume! It’s hard to see in these pictures, but the sleeves are gathered to a narrow cuff.

A very pretty and interestingly constructed floral dress. The piecing at the waist is so different–I’ve never seen a midriff treatment quite like it. Also: check out the lovely cascade of the peplum at the back–so elegant! Note that although it looks like the dress buttons down the entire front, they are most likely just for show and the dress is accessible through a side seam zipper.

Finally a fun little accessory you don’t see in a lot of films, but was another trendy item in the 40s: the evening snood. Made up of fine netting and gathered to a jeweled band, this is quite a bit of a departure from the chunkier snoods that were popular for casual wear. Very fun!

Did any specific details jump out at you? Seen any movies lately that catch your eye from a fashion standpoint?

September 30, 2010 · 12 lovely thoughts
posted in fashion in film · tags: ,

Toria September 30, 2010 at 05:57

Oh, what lovely clothes! I think I’m going to have to try that three bun hair style too, although having layers isn’t exactly condusive to lovely vintage hairstyles.

Not quite on a par with 1940′s films but I was watching Penelope last night and gushing over Christina Ricci’s wardrobe, I adore her coat and, well, pretty much everything she wears in the film!

MrsExeter September 30, 2010 at 06:55

How lovely – what a wonderful wardrobe. Do try the amazing hairdo, it would look so pretty on you.

RetroJetGirl September 30, 2010 at 07:56

I love the phone in the last set of photos! I had a red phone like that in storage and do you think I can find it now?! So upset *boohoo*

I also like her necklace in the last photo.

Debi September 30, 2010 at 08:13

Love the swing jacket (I have a very similar pattern from 1940 I am hoping to make up soon!) I’ve never seen the evening snood before but really like that too! On my plane ride to the states I saw ‘The Women’–a great 1940′s film with FANTASTIC fashion! I loved it (it was maybe 1943? but there were lots of great tilt hats and the like). Just out of curiosity, where do you get your B 1940′s films? I have a hard time even finding major films to rent from that time period!

Jill September 30, 2010 at 08:16

oh those shoulders! Love!

Angela Peters September 30, 2010 at 09:06

I love when you do a film fashion synopsis. I see fashion in film, but I don’t understand it the way you do, and it’s so helpful to have all the details explained.

I haven’t seen this film yet, though I too am a fan of ’40s film noir. The fashion in this film seems almost edgy and experimental to me. I don’t know as much about fashion as you do, but from the little I’ve seen, these costumes were a little out of the box, which is so fun!

Genevieve Rose September 30, 2010 at 09:31

I happily admit that I have become a serious studier and watcher of films from the 1920s through the 50s. Meaning, it’s all I watch now, having long since given up on today’s sorely lacking features which just won’t go away.
And as you’re doing here, there’s so much to point out and to learn from those films. You can study social behavior, fashion, politics, government, quite a bit. :) And also just enjoy a fabulous film with intelligent dialogue.

Have you seen “No Questions Asked” Casey?

Renee September 30, 2010 at 10:23

Love all the pictures and how you break it all down. I watch TCM often. i always notice the clothes. I watched Laura the other day with Gene Tierney.

Looks like that hairstyle is made with deep finger waves. I had to learn how to do those years ago when I went to cosmetology school (one of my former careers:) )

Corinne September 30, 2010 at 11:15

I have always liked to watch old films for fashion. I actually keep a composition book with notes for details. These fashions are so beautifully presented in these films. Thanks for the above showcase, I haven’t had time recently to visit this passion, its time I returned!

Sabrina Clementine September 30, 2010 at 11:18

Love it! I’ll admit I didn’t always look at fashion in films with quite as much detail as I do now….thanks to some of you bloggers. I recently re-watched “On the Town” (a ’50′s, I believe, Musical starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra) and was inspired to blog about it, lol. (I have a lot of learning to do though…so don’t laugh at my superficial descriptions of the outfits…

Mel September 30, 2010 at 23:29

Omgosh the fashion looks amazing! I kind of want to watch it just for the clothes! And the weird thing is I think I actually have this movie :P

Andi B. Goode October 3, 2010 at 22:58

I really loved this film! The clothes are definitely gorgeous (I love the detailing on the day dress, too) – I didn’t even notice the evening snood. How lovely. I quite liked the ‘twist’ to the plot of this film, as well.
-Andi x
PS LOVE the new layout. It’s gorgeous.

Previous post:

Next post: