Fashions of 1934

USA 1934. Dir William Dieterle.

With Alla Nazimova, Mitchell Lewis. Costume by Orry-Kelly, musical numbers by Busby Berkeley.

Fashion of 1934 is one of a long line of films from the 1930s and 1940s that exploited the success of New York’s super-revues such as the Ziegfeld Follies and Frolics, the Earl Carroll Vanities, or George White’s Scandals. Its musical number “Spin a Little Web of Dreams” has Busby Berkeley’s signature all over it – here he combined to great effect the sensuousness of the follies’ costuming and decor with his trademark kaleidoscopic choreography. As if this was not enough, the film displays some remarkable gowns courtesy of Hollywood favorite, Orry Kelly (who himself had designed sets and costumes for the Scandals). As its title suggests, Fashions of 1934 is set in the fashion industry and has a good old dig at many a sensitive issue at its heart – from creativity versus commerce, originality versus copy and exclusivity versus mass-availibility, to the rivalry between Paris and New York.