Costume designer Orry-Kelly is the Golden Age’s unsung hero
One of the most influential costume designers of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Orry-Kelly is the star of a new film celebrating his work on the era’s most iconic films.
From Ingrid Berman’s white suit in Casablanca to Marilyn Monroe’s showstopping flapper dress in Some Like It Hot, Orry-Kelly worked fashion magic into hundreds of films between 1930 and 1960 (seriously, check out his IMDB page).
Women He’s Undressed, which was created by Little Women director Gillian Armstrong, is released on DVD and VOD today, and documents the designer’s fascinating life, from the day he first moved to America from Australia to work with Warner Bros., to major career highlights like his three Oscar wins.
Pushing the boundaries of what women could wear via how they could be portrayed in film, Orry-Kelly’s contribution to the wider fashion world is indisputable. ‘Repeat after me. No actress of mine does a love scene in floral and freakin’ puffed sleeves,’ he once declared.
As a openly gay man in 1950s Hollywood, homophobia was something Orry-Kelly experienced frequently. His response? When collecting his Oscar for Some Like It Hot in 1960, he thanked Marilyn Monroe and the other ‘female’ leads of the film for their support. ‘I thank you and particularly Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon . . . they never looked lovelier.’
See some of our favourite Orry-Kelly-designed looks in the gallery above.