by Beverly Adam (author of Two Lovers: the love story of Russ Columbo and Carole Lombard). Two Lovers: the love story of Carole Lombard and Russ Columbo by Beverly Adam
Dressing Carole Lombard for my book Two Lovers is one of the enjoyable tasks I had as an author. Carole was a stunningly beautiful movie star in the 1930’s and one of the most photographed women in Hollywood, having posed for photographers over 42,000 times by 1938.
Travis Banton was the head costume designer at Paramount Pictures, the studio where Carole was under contract during the 1930’s. Carole paid him as well to create street clothes for her, mostly pencil skirts with matching tailored jackets. She had to look polished on and off the set.
A young emerging star, Carole was twenty-five years old in 1933, and had been gradually working her way up the entertainment ladder and that required looking glamorous. Travis Banton liked her and had a very friendly working relationship with Carole. He once was having such a good time chatting with her during a fitting that he arrived almost an hour late to a dinner party that he was supposed to be hosting.
Italian designer Elsa Schiaperelli had arrived in California in the 1920’s. The daring designer was a noted rival of Coco Chanel
and her surrealistic elements transformed Hollywood style, with her cloche hats, broad double breasted jackets and artistic notes of whimsy. Paramount took note and copied her style.
Irene Maud Lentz was a twice nominated costume designer who freelanced at several studios in Hollywood, working at one point for Paramount in the 1930’s
and early 1940’s. She designed clothes for Carole for the films Mr and Mrs Smith and To Be Or Not To Be. Irene was known to have originated the dressmaker suit and her clothing was popular at Bullocks. The actor Gary Cooper was reported to have been Irene’s lover and many believe she committed suicide when he died.
Carole wore on a date with her own lover, Russ Columbo, one of Irene’s designs.