Ava and Lana BFF

by Erin on November 17, 2009

Faryn is making a wedding dress for a friend (she's a better man than I am, gotta tell you) and the friend is looking for a pattern for a dress like Ava Gardner's in this picture:

Ava and Lana

No, no, I'm totally kidding you. She wants Lana Turner's dress. What I want to know is what kind of event accommodated both outfits … Ava's dressed for a day at the office where she may just have to move some file boxes, and Lana is dressed for, well, a wedding. Possibly a wedding in an Old West Saloon, where high kicks may or may not be involved.

It doesn't seem to have affected their friendship, though:

Ava and Lana

I know nothing about Lana Turner and only slightly more about Ava Gardner, so I am relying on you film buffs to enlighten me.

And in the top picture, there's a guy in what looks like white tie, and in the bottom there's a guy in what looks like an Eisenhower jacket. Go figure.

As for the dress, you should be able to modify a fairly standard off-the-shoulder gown to be like this. Add a slit and some ruffles, sprinkle on some bling, and you're done! But if you have a link to a similar pattern, please leave it in the comments for Faryn …

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

sarah November 17, 2009 at 8:36 am

Im thinking theyre all at work? Im blanking but Lanas dress looks very familiar, as in I think I saw that movie familiar. But right now, I couldnt even tell you what Lana Turner movies Ive seen.

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Jen November 17, 2009 at 8:53 am

Merry Widow, c. 1952, Helen Rose designer.Helen Rose was a genius at draping, with a staff of experts to construct her designs. And whats really fun is that after this movie came out, the fashionable long line corsets by Warners lingerie were called Merry Widows after that movie (I still use the term).

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Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 9:00 am

Love the crossover construction of that dress (how the right angles point to just under the waist with all that tulle spilling out from where the two sides part). What would be technical name for such garment construction? Might help in the research for something similar…

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Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 9:07 am

thats obviously a studio photo where two stars are shot together while they are both in costume for two different films.

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Jen November 17, 2009 at 9:07 am

OK, Im back.For the base of the dress, I would marry 2 current Vogue patterns:Vogue 2903, this has the right upper bodice with V neck and wide shoulders, just leave off the sleeves.toVogue 2717, this is your average princess seamed torso and bridal skirt model.Actually the V2903 might make it all the way, just close up the skirt pleats and you would have it.I sure hope they try this first in muslin, and hire the best costumer in town to construct it. The draping is a free-for-all you decorate after the dress sample has been constructed, I think.p.s. that waistline definition is all in the right corset, shell need a tight grosgrain ribbon in there to keep it defined. (no cake eating for her!)

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lsaspacey November 17, 2009 at 9:14 am

I definitely think she should look through the vintage (1980-90s)Vogue designer patterns, especially the designs from Bagely Mischca (sp?)and Belville Sassoon. Heres one thats pretty close with a slim skirt: Vogue 2802 at Lanetz Living

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Lisa Simeone November 17, 2009 at 9:29 am

Wow, Lana Turner was a knock-out. Just stunning. And that Helen Rose gown equally so. Gotta love old style glamour!

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Sara November 17, 2009 at 9:48 am

Love those old pix!

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nuranar November 17, 2009 at 9:51 am

shes a better man than I am, gotta tell youThanks for the laugh! Unashamed Kipling references for the win! :D

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Evelyn November 17, 2009 at 10:10 am

Looks to me like Ava is wearing a blouse and a skirt, not a dress. But what do I know?

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deb November 17, 2009 at 10:21 am

Ava was probably filming for Lone Star(1952) in which she played a news-paper editor. I havent seen the movie in ages… but the outfit does look familiar from it.Lanas dress is indeed from The Merry Widow, as a poster above also mentioned.So this is probably a studio-photo and theyre both in costume for 2 totally different movies.

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Lizzy November 17, 2009 at 10:43 am

Very nice dresses! And I think Isaspacey is right about the pattern V2802, it is VERY similar to the one in the photo.

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Cookie November 17, 2009 at 10:47 am

I dont think Gardner is actually costumed for a movie here…I believe thats pretty much how she dressed off screen (note the loafers) and shes visiting Turner on the set of The Merry Widow…a rather brave thing to do before going through Hair and Makeup, yourself! (Both actresses were under contract to MGM, and its employees used to drop by each others sets at lunchtime, etc.) Notice the wide bracelet Turner is wearing. Throughout that whole movie she wears either those or long gloves to cover up bandages on her wrist from an attempted suicide, a result of Tyrone Power breaking up with her. I think Ava Gardner was pretty much the most beautiful actress, ever. I have been swayed by Liv Tyler and Kate Beckinsale before (I like brunettes), but if I could magically transform myself into someone elses body, I think it would be Gardners. She was also very confident about her own merits as a human being. She whacked Howard Hughes over the head with a handy pewter pitcher or something (SERIOUSLY injuring him) when he was trying to buy her affections with trays of jewelry, and shed been to typing school before a talent scout spotted her portrait in a photographers window. She always said, I would have made a damn fine secretary.The critic Pauline Kael said Gardners persona was impossible not to like, as she was entirely without pretense. A lesson for us all!

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JuliaR November 17, 2009 at 10:54 am

Both men in the second photo might be wearing uniforms, so it might have been something to support the military.I found this sitehttp://oracleofbacon.org/cgi-bin/movielinkswhen I was looking stuff up about six degrees of separation and so I looked the two actresses up and they were both in Du Barry was a Lady 1943, which of course, was right in the middle of the war for the US.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035829/They seem to have had tiny cameos in the film.

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~Bon Vintage~ November 17, 2009 at 12:08 pm

V2802 I also recommende Bellvillethey are the current BEST a draping! The shoulder wrap neckline point in the photo looks like individualized rhinestoned sequined or pearlized leafings that can be layered on organza attached as to the bodice and the front curve.. so elegant. Many Bellville Vogues are available on line and have great couture structure.Those patterns are advanced though so get those sewing caps on!

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Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Heres a video clip of the dress in action from the Merry Widow film.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb1hVAwNquw

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Birgit / Stitches and Loops November 17, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Love that dress! Sadly, there are only two Helen Rose designs on the wiki.There is a Philip Hulitar Prominent Designer pattern that would make a nice start for the bodice, although the skirt would need serious modifications.http://vintagepatterns.wikia.com/wiki/Prominent_Designer_M284Thanks for the nice insights, Cookie!

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Cookie November 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Oh, thats interesting! Imagine if you could see all pattern illustrations in actual movement.But after seeing all that swirling satin, tulle and rhinestones, Im having bad Say Yes to the Dress flashbacks.

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Cookie November 17, 2009 at 1:38 pm

PS: Speaking of elaborate period costumes, I watched the 1974 Peter Bogdanovich adaptation Daisy Miller last night. The young Cybill Shepherd kind of flounders in it, but at least looks absolutely exquisite in the gorgeous costumes, which were nominated for an Oscar.

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Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm

It probably wont be hard to replicate the dress — but where are you going to get the corset? Were not talking Spanx, here, ladies. A realio, trulio corset, that really cinches your waist to the extent shown in the photo, pretty much has to be custom-made these days. VIctoria Beckham, in her autobiography Learning to Fly, talks about how legendary corsetier Mr. Pearl made hers for her wedding dress. But as far as I know, theres only one Mr. Pearl (Vogue once did a story on him; he sleeps in his own corset and has like, a 17 waist). Heres another consideration: Ive never used a real corset, but I have worn waist cinchers (a company called Squeem or Squeam makes them and thyre great for lifting the boobs as well; you can get them from Amazon).A good waist cincher will do great things for your figure — though it wont create the extreme hourglass effect pictured here. But even a garden-variety, modern-day waist cincher is really uncomfortable to wear all day.Wouldnt you want to be comfortable on your wedding day? You want to dance, talk, hug people, greet your guests, and enjoy yourself. You dont want to spend the whole day miserable.And then theres the after-effect. After even a short time in one of these contraptions, you end up with ugly deep red grooves in your belly where the skin has been folded over and pressed down. I dont know about you all, but I wanted to have sex on my wedding night, and the only thing less sexy than a post-Squeem groove would be a huge, fresh surgical scar.Im just saying, I think there are good reasons why that cinched-waist look has gone out of style. I should know, having tried to recreate that effect myself. -victoria

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Amy A. November 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Look at those waists! Did they eat nothing?

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Cookie November 17, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Depending on the brides figure, a good all-in-one foundation garment in the correct size would give additional waist definition, and not mark up the poor victim too badly. (I imagine a hard thing about making wedding dresses, in general, would be that prospective brides tend to either lose or gain weight as the big day approaches.)

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Lisa Simeone November 17, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Oh, my, Miss Anonymous, there are MANY places where you can get honest-to-god corsets, off the rack and custom-made, beautiful, beautiful corsets, that dont make you miserable, that dont squish you beyond recognition (well, depends on how tight you cinch them), that make you look and feel like a queen. Its not a thing of the past!But dont have time right now to post all the links, so will have to return later tonight to do so. Believe me, youll be bowled over by the variety.

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Theresa November 17, 2009 at 5:14 pm
Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 5:28 pm

For the Anonymous poster who wanted the term for the crossover style of this dress, it is surplice.

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Cookie November 17, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Real Life Corset Tragedy: When Vivien Leigh was filming Anna Karenina, she kept complaining that the costumes were uncomfortable, to which designer Cecil Beaton repeatedly told her to pipe down and get on with it. WELL, it finally turned out all her corsets were being put on her UPSIDE DOWN! Poor little Vivling.

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baju muslim zahra November 18, 2009 at 1:05 am

unique blog :)

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ed hardy November 18, 2009 at 3:53 am

Agree. Its a good article that I can apply this for my routine. I love it, so usefully. Thanks. :)

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Sheila / Out of the Ashes Collectibles November 18, 2009 at 7:59 am

Hi Faryn – I have a ton of wedding dresses but two jumped out at me: Butterick 4235 and Butterick 4288 which both come in a couple of sizes. These two look similar IMO / http://risingfeenix.com/inc/searchresults?s=4235ss=4235n=679772andhttp://risingfeenix.com/inc/searchresults?s=4288ss=4288n=243413

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Hilary November 18, 2009 at 9:26 am

Interestingly, they were both married to Artie Shaw.

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Gidget Bananas November 18, 2009 at 10:06 am

Ah, Lana; bad acting, great clothes, as I said here.

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Gabriella November 18, 2009 at 10:12 am

Though not an exact match, Lanas dress reminds me of Simplicity 3410 from the 1950s. I just tried to add it to the Wiki, so you could see, but Im getting no Wiki love today.

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Cookie November 18, 2009 at 10:56 am

Not to diminish any one elses opinion, but I am not a Lana Turner fan, either. She has the onscreen personality of a marshmellow. Theyve been talking for years about making a movie about the later, gangster-related scandal in her life, called Stompenado. The last I read, Catherine Zeta Jones was going to play her. If the film had been planned earlier, I think Kim Basinger would be a better choice, because she can give off the same sense of removed vulnerability. (To be clear, I think Basinger is a far superior actress to Turner.) Its a very interesting story.

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Anonymous November 18, 2009 at 11:48 am

This dress looks like one of the plus size evening gowns in the latest issue of Burda (11/2009 – dress 138, page 51). That might work if the person the dress is intended for is a Euro size 44 or bigger.

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Lisa Simeone November 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

I really liked her in The Bad and the Beautiful. Great movie, and great score by David Raksin.Very sad about her time with Johnny Stompanato, but Im sure somebody will make a movie of it someday.(I know I still have to post those corset links — I will!)

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Linda November 19, 2009 at 12:29 am

Re corsets – I dont sell these, and dont think Id subject myself to wearing one, but a younger friend of mine (with a very nice figure already!) wears one of these and has a va-va-va voom look, reminiscent of Lanas. Btw, in my fantasy life I AM Ava.http://buybodymagic.com/

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Anonymous November 19, 2009 at 5:14 am

Did anyone else note the three inch hem in the skirt and the non-tight fit?

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Lisa Simeone November 19, 2009 at 8:55 am

Okay, sorry, I know Im way overdue on this. Here are some corset links, which will, in turn, take you to other links. Sorry I dont know how to do all the HTML href stuff, so youll have to copy past these URLS into your browser.First off, story I did on corsets when I was hosting WATC on NPR several years ago:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1137842Le Chateau Exotiques home page — gobs of gorgeous corsets of all types (dont let the URL scare you — there are many beautiful, elegant, modest corsets here as well):http://www.fetishwear.com/Dark Garden in San Francisco, one of the best makers/purveyors in the country:http://www.darkgarden.com/index.aspRomantasy — lots o links:http://www.romantasy.com/index.html?BodyURL=ZXQ/second-level-pages/products.htmlVollers — high-quality corsets:http://www.vollers-corsets.com/Okay, thats enough to get you started, especially because, as I said, their links lead to other links.Have fun!

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anthrokeight November 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm

I think Ava Gardner looks like a pattern-woman in the first picture. Head up, looking at… something or another. Her left arm is out from her body, all she needs there is a pair of gloves. If we could just get the right arm to disappear into nothingness in a trail of pencil sketches, shed look like a background pattern picture (and shed have been a damn fine pattern picture, too).Lana Turner is too much with us to be a really good pattern picture person. She clearly hasnt got the acting chops, or maybe the acting desire, for the job.

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Charles November 19, 2009 at 8:05 pm

i agree that i super tight corset is absolutely necessary for that look… ^.^

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Miss Amanda Jones November 20, 2009 at 7:41 am

I think they just met on the street! Ava was going out from her office work and Lana was going to a party!XD

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Miss Amanda Jones November 20, 2009 at 7:41 am

I think they just met on the street! Ava was going out from her office work and Lana was going to a party!XD

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Jen November 20, 2009 at 8:55 am

Corset or no corset, that dress probably had a shape of its own, made possible with a strong muslin flat lining against the silk satin face, with metal stays down each princess seam. Throw in a good measure of buckram behind the skirt, to keep the silhouette smooth under the faux surplice trim and skirt drape. Then theres the inner waistband to create the cinched and defined waistline (with out it, the corset shape wouldnt be molded by the dress). Finish this off with a tough metal zipper up the back (the camera wont dwell on that area).This dress would stand on its own if left there.

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Faryn November 20, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Erin and all of you wonderful people have no idea how blissfully much all of your ideas, suggestions, and time means to me. As for my friend Amys figure, shes 23 and healthily skinny so I know this dress will be beautiful on her (if I can make the dress exist) because this is what she wants…and so she will have…even if i have to break out my alchemy set with the sewing machine.Now that I have the details of the dress, Im wondering what the best materials would be for the new dress. Any suggestions?

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Theresa November 21, 2009 at 7:25 pm

crepe back satin, bridal satin? maybe?is there such a thing as a mid-weight silk?

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Theresa November 21, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Faryn — you are a good friend.

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DragonPoodle November 22, 2009 at 8:26 am

Faryn,thanks for the words healthily skinny in your description of the bride. This is the first time I have seen anyone feel the need to defend skinny-ness, and I hope your comment is part of a societal turn away from the glorification of thinness. Yes, you can be healthily skinny, just as I am healthily plump! Heres to real women of any size!

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Miss Marple November 22, 2009 at 11:17 am

I think theyre pretty clearly on a movie set. You can see a directors chair in the top photo. The odd combination of clothes may indicate that Ava had stopped in to visit, and wasnt in the film. The guy in the Eisenhower jacket may have been cosplaying a 1920s director! Arent there pictures of early directors looking like theyre dressed for safaris?… Thanks for this great blog!

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john in nc November 22, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Lana and Ava were both married to Artie Shaw-There were good friends-I agree this is probably a shot from a movie set -Lana working and Ava dropping by-

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Chantelle November 23, 2009 at 11:31 am

@Faryn and @Teresa, mid-weight silk fabrics are available. Ive been looking at a lot of silk fabrics online lately to try and figure out which is the right silk fabric to use for McCalls 7549, which Im making for an upcoming Christmas party. The world of bridal fabrics is varied and complicated :)Silk weight (in woven fabrics) is measured by momme (mm); the lower the number, the lighter the silk. Lightweight silk is usually under 20mm or so, mid-weight is 20-30mm, and heavy weight is over 30.Duchesse satin and peau de soie are mid-weight silks. Although duppioni and silk taffeta are usually lightweight silks, it is possible to find them in mid-weights as well.Based on the video, Id say that the dress is made out of duchesse or peau de soie because its got body and sheen but not a lot of shine. The dress could also be made out of double-faced silk satin or a crepe-backed silk satin.There are lots of online retailers that carry a variety of silks. If you do buy online and have time, buy samples first so that you know what youre getting. These are some of the shops that seem to have a wide selection with lots of information:NY Fashion CenterFabrics.netGS dye (if you want to dye your own fabric)Golden Silks

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raven November 23, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I vote for a silk duchess satin. My wedding gown was made from it and I adored it. Great body and movement, nice sheen without being too shiny, and it drapes beautifully. I think the tulle and beading would pop against it and look elegant. I also think a vintage or antique brooch at the top of the tulle would be really cool!

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melissa marie November 23, 2009 at 10:17 pm

i looked up both ladies after reading this and neither seemed to have a very happy life. but they both sure wore dresses well, if that counts for anything…by the way i am rather new to your blog, and i love it and the vintage pattern wiki. awesome. thanks.

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Lynn November 24, 2009 at 7:22 am

I would suggest looking at Sewingpatterns.com. They have lots and lots of pattern brands Ive never seen anywhere else. If it exists they probably have it.

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wundermary November 25, 2009 at 9:48 am

All I can say is: The hair, Darling, Watch the make-up.

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