A while back I wrote a blog post about Helen Rose, the famous Hollywood costume designer. In that post I mentioned she had written two books, one of them being The Glamorous World of Helen Rose, published in 1983, just two years before she died.
Recently, on one of my vintage treasure hunts, I actually found an autographed copy of this book in near perfect condition. I was so excited, especially when I got home and found out these books sell for $80-$125.00. I only paid $12.00 for mine!!!
The book is written by Helen, herself, and is full of fantastic photos and fashion illustrations of her designs, including movie costumes, famous wedding gowns and dresses from her couture line.
And aside from the history of her career, from designing for showgirls at nightclub Chez Pierre, to the costumes for the Ice Follies, and then onto Hollywood, she also gives the inside scoop on what it was like working at the movie studios and dealing with directors, other designers,actors and actresses. So lots of fun, interesting tibits here!
Below is just a small sampling of the type of images that are included in this truly special book.
According to Helen, her first big celebrity she designed for was Mae West.
Costumes for Doris Day in Love Me or Leave Me (1956)
There are several photos of beautiful costumes she designed for Cyd Charisse.
This one from Unfinished Dance (1947).
Fashion sketch for Debbie Reynolds in the Tender Trap (1955)
Helen Rose designed the white chiffon dress for Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,’
then added a version to her collection due to popular demand.
Apparently back in the 50s they sold for 250.00 and sold in the hundreds!
Beautiful grecian style gown by Helen Rose, 1954.
There are also photos of her designs for Ziegfeld Follies (1944), High Society(1956) with the stunning Grace Kelly, Merry Widow (1952) with Lana Turner , Designing Women (1957) with Lauren Bacall, her famous wedding dresses for Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Ann Blyth and so much more!
But another thing I love about this book is it is sprinkled throughout with her own fashion advice for women. As a matter of fact, the last chapter in the book is titled You Don’t Have to Be Beautiful to Be Beautiful and includes style tips for becoming a well groomed, well dressed lady.
Someone reading this book today might find some of her advice to be a little outdated (or possibly politically incorrect) when it comes to some of her opinions about women and body image. But I found the majority of her advice to be just as relevant today, as back then.
Take these gems, for instance.
“How many times have you bought a suit or a dress on sale or on impulse, brought it home and then never wore it because you had nothing with which to accessorize it? To be well groomed, every outfit you own should be complete to give you that “tip to toe” look. The idea is not fill your closets to over flowing with clothes you seldom wear, but to always be neatly put together.”
“You have only one body, you’ll never have another. Take good care of it. You will have to start to like and respect yourself if you want others to like and respect you. This isn’t conceit, it’s just good common sense.”
“Take a little time to dress properly when you appear in public. When you step out of your house be proud of how you look. This has nothing to do with age or how much money you can spend on your wardrobe. Don’t go around looking like and “unmade bed!”
So, my recommendation, if you run across this book for less than 80.00 in great condition, then grab it. But it is certainly a collectible treasure, worth the current values if you are interested in vintage fashions,designers and fashion history.