I think that I'm predisposed towards interiors, fashion, food, celebrities, and the cognoscenti of yesteryear. Perhaps it's genetics, or maybe I was born in the wrong era. I don't know, but it really does seem that style- an individual sense of style, that is- was more prevalent "back then". Seeing an actress today, for example, schlepping her Starbucks cup while wearing Uggs just kind of ruins it for me. You know what I mean?
A book that seems to drive this point home is one that a photographer friend gave me recently- Performance: Richard Avedon, a compilation of his photos of performers. Noel Coward is in it as well as Diana Vreeland (if blog posts are any indication, we still revere this woman today.) Hepburn (both of them), Porter, Nureyev, and Capote also make appearances.
So, without further ado, here are a few images that caught my eye. And as I couldn't resist adding a design twist to this post, I'm also including a few images of their respective homes- just to help prove my point that these luminaries did have quite a sense of style.
If there was anyone who could give Porter a run for his money in terms of wit and a way with words, it was Noel Coward.
One might have expected his London home (shown here in 1937) to be frothy, but instead it's a bit rustic around the edges.
We all remember Edward G. Robinson as the cinema's ultimate mobster.
But did you know that he also had a renowned collection of Impressionist paintings, shown off to great effect in his Beverly Hills home? His home, by the way, was the handiwork of Samuel Marx and Frances Elkins. I bet that Little Caesar would never had had such elegant digs.
They say that Marlene Dietrich was the ultimate hausfrau. You certainly would not have known that by looking at this photograph.
You wouldn't have known it by her palatial Beverly Hills home, either.
(All portraits from Performance: Richard Avedon. Porter home photo from Billy Baldwin Decorates; Coward home photo from a 1937 issue of Arts & Decoration. Robinson home from UltraModern: Samuel Marx Architect, Designer, Art Collector; Harrison dining room shot from Keith Irvine: A Life in Decoration. Dietrich photo from House Beautiful, 9/2001.)