{ feuilleton }


• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


Peacock couture


Hedy Lamarr strikes a pose in a peacock dress for Samson and Deliah (1949), one of Hollywood’s many tiresome Biblical epics. If the photo isn’t just a promo shot and Hedy appears wearing this it’s no doubt a highlight but it’s so long since I saw the film the only thing I remember is Victor Mature bringing down the temple at the end. Ms Lamarr’s outfit wasn’t the first of its kind, of course, the examples below from dancer Ruth St Denis and film star Betty Blythe have appeared here before, but Hedy’s dress is a lot more extravagant; Aubrey Beardsley would have loved it. I might have said it was the most extravagant but that honour should go to a Chinese wedding dress made of 2,009 peacock feathers which was unveiled last year. Impressive if completely impractical.

Thanks to Thom for the Hedy tip!


Ruth St Denis—The Peacock.


Betty Blythe.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Betty Blythe
Ruth St Denis
The Feminine Sphinx
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé



Posted in {fashion}, {film}, {photography}, {religion}.

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6 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Nick Hydra


    I recently saw S&D (anything with George Sanders in it is alright by me) and was amazed to see that the hot Philistine princess Semada (who Samson was going to marry until it all went a bit akward at the wedding feast) was played by Angela Lansbury, who looked about 18 and reminded me a bit of a young Bette Davis.

  2. #2 posted by John


    I forgot George Sanders was in De Mille’s film. Angela Lansbury also played Sybil Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray a couple of years earlier. She’s very good in the role even though they mess about with the story in order to make her a singer. George Sanders is in that too as Lord Henry. His performance and Ivan Albright’s famous painting are the best thing about an otherwise compromised adaptation.

  3. #3 posted by AlyxL


    Obviously not one of those people who think peacock feathers are unlucky. There’s a much tackier version of the same idea here. But isn’t it the male bird that has the fancy plumage?

  4. #4 posted by John


    AlyxL: Thanks, I mentioned that enormous wedding dress above. Seems more like a promotional gimmick that anything intended to be used and the bodice is rather poor, doesn’t match the train. No one ever seems concerned by the female use of feathers from a male bird, it’s merely another example of treating animals as a resource. Interesting discussion on that Neatorama page about harvesting the feathers.

  5. #5 posted by Thombeau


    You KNOW I thought of you when I posted that!

  6. #6 posted by John


    Heh, I thought as much.






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