Childhood Memories & Inspirations : Gone with the Wind

An important category on my blog is fashion and what’s walking down the biggest runways season after season. There’s so much to see and it all can be overwhelming at times yet I keep yearning for more, especially from the designers I love. My fascination and enjoyment of clothing and the power of self-expression it wields did spark from a couple viewings of the 1939 film Gone with the Wind when I was kid with my mama. My mother loves the main character so much she named my sister after her. Both the motion picture and the original novel (1936) by the same name from author Margaret Mitchell are now considered controversial due to the false depiction of slavery and womanhood. I certainly didn’t realize it till learning about the dark history in school and struggled with the fact that Vivien Leigh‘s portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara and the looks she stunned in ignited something I covet till this day.

Hopefully this post doesn’t trigger any hard feelings and if anyone is interested in the story or the film’s fashion and costume design, please know there is further research to be done. Since my first fashion reference is wrapped up in this story, I must find the silver lining and also hope the post will encourage everyone to seek further knowledge of modern and historical slavery, and be more aware of the fiction we consume. Like most film adaptations, it changes or leaves out offenses the original material contains.

Nonetheless, I can never deny the work of Walter Plunkett, the infamous costume designer for Gone with the Wind, the main attraction of the film. His resume tells the story of a talented man in a growing industry and some of his work even goes uncredited. My favorite look from the movie is Scarlett’s scarlet party dress she wears to her long-time crush’s birthday party. They’re both married at the time, rumors flying around about them and Scarlett’s husband chooses the dress and sends her to the party alone. The dress takes on the scandal perfectly and only draws more attention to it, which is Scarlett’s way of life. The fit, neckline and glittery feathery detailing misplaces Scarlett among every other woman in the room with their common wears of the time, appearing to be the Devil herself.

English actress Vivien Leigh (1913 – 1967) in costume on the set of the film ‘Gone With the Wind’, 1939. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

This scarlet gown is the first fabulous thing I remember ever seeing, a creation that taught me no matter the situation, be the best dressed! Clothing became important to me and I still look for deeper meaning in what we all wear and the wardrobe chosen in media and entertainment. Out of everything Scarlett O’Hara wears in her first visual depiction in motion, the red gown embodies who she is and the effect she usually has on a room of people in the stories most pivotal moment, a job masterfully done by the great Walter Plunkett and his team. The images above have inspired me forever and I can only wonder if anything else would have steered me towards fashion.

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