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Costume Designer Walter Plunkett influence on fashion and the movies

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Walter Plunkett. prolific costume designer of the 1930’s-’50’

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Walter Plunkett  was the costume designer for Gone With The Wind . He made over 500 costumes for the film. There was no Oscar category for costumes, so his work on the film was not recognized. Years later he received the Oscar for costuming “An American in Paris.”

 

A Beautiful Girl...Singin' in the Rain (1952) Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett
A Beautiful Girl…Singin’ in the Rain (1952) Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett

Walter Plunkett (June 5, 1902 in Oakland, California – March 8, 1982) was a prolific costume designer who worked on more than 150 projects throughout his career in the Hollywood film industry.

 

Walter Plunkett costume sketch for Agnes Moorehead from "Raintree County".
Walter Plunkett costume sketch for Agnes Moorehead from “Raintree County”.

Born in Oakland, California, Plunkett studied law at the University of California, where he was a member of the California-Alpha chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, but showed greater interest in the school’s theatrical group.

Elizabeth Taylor in Raintree County 1957, Costume Design by Walter Plunkett.
Elizabeth Taylor in Raintree County 1957, Costume Design by Walter Plunkett.

He moved to New York City in 1923 and began work as a stage actor as well as a costume and set designer. After some time in Greenwich Village, he moved back to California, this time to Hollywood, and found work as a movie extra. (He can be seen dancing with Irene, another future top designer, in Erich von Stroheim‘s 1925 film The Merry Widow.) He soon made a career change to costume and wardrobe.

 

Walter Plunkett "GONE WITH THE WIND"
Walter Plunkett “GONE WITH THE WIND”

Plunkett’s first credited work as a costume designer was the 1927 film Hard-Boiled Haggerty. At RKO, he developed a huge costume and wardrobe department that became a major studio asset. Given free rein, he set about creating costumes that rivaled the work of his contemporaries, such as Travis Banton and Adrian.

Gone with the Wind. Costume design by Walter Plunkett - Mrs. Kennedy dress.
Gone with the Wind. Costume design by Walter Plunkett – Mrs. Kennedy dress.

 

Plunkett’s best-known work is featured in two films, Gone with the Wind and Singin’ in the Rain, in which he lampooned his initial style of the Roaring Twenties.

Here is a full-length gown designed by Walter Plunkett and worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1957 MGM film Raintree County. The bodice of mauve taffeta with full sleeves of layers of tulle embroidered with mauve flower heads, the full-length skirt of ivory cotton embroidered all over with mauve flower heads, with corresponding layered underskirt; and a parasol -- made for Elizabeth Taylor as Susanna Drake in the movie.
Here is a full-length gown designed by Walter Plunkett and worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1957 MGM film Raintree County. The bodice of mauve taffeta with full sleeves of layers of tulle embroidered with mauve flower heads, the full-length skirt of ivory cotton embroidered all over with mauve flower heads, with corresponding layered underskirt; and a parasol — made for Elizabeth Taylor as Susanna Drake in the movie.

 

In 1951, Plunkett shared an Oscar with Orry-Kelly and Irene for An American in Paris.

Plunkett retired in 1966, after having worked in films, on Broadway, and for the Metropolitan Opera.

Vivien Leigh behind the scenes of "Gone with the Wind." One of Walter Plunkett's costume sketches is visible to the left.
Vivien Leigh behind the scenes of “Gone with the Wind.” One of Walter Plunkett’s costume sketches is visible to the left.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, 1934
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, 1934

 

Walter Plunkett. Costume Sketch of Greer Garson as Irene Forsyte in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Production, 'That Forsyte Woman', 1949
Walter Plunkett. Costume Sketch of Greer Garson as Irene Forsyte in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Production, ‘That Forsyte Woman’, 1949
Walter Plunkett Costumes Katharine Hepburn: MARY OF SCOTLAND (1936) and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY ..
Walter Plunkett Costumes Katharine Hepburn: MARY OF SCOTLAND (1936) and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY ..
Lupe Velez in Walter Plunkett for "Strictly Dynamite" (1934)
Lupe Velez in Walter Plunkett for “Strictly Dynamite” (1934)
 Walter Plunkett Costumes ." Tweedland" The Gentlemen's club: Katharine Hepburn:

Walter Plunkett Costumes .” Tweedland” The Gentlemen’s club: Katharine Hepburn:

 

From the 1955 MGM period drama, “Diane” comes this magnificent champagne velvet pearl-encrusted period court gown worn by Lana Turner and designed by Walter Plunkett.
From the 1955 MGM period drama, “Diane” comes this magnificent champagne velvet pearl-encrusted period court gown worn by Lana Turner and designed by Walter Plunkett.

 

Walter Plunkett and Ginger Rogers at the Los Angeles premiere of Gone With the Wind
Walter Plunkett and Ginger Rogers at the Los Angeles premiere of Gone With the Wind

 

Ava Gardner in "Showboat"
Ava Gardner in “Showboat”
'Gone With The Wind' (1939), Mammy and her petticoat ::: Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett
‘Gone With The Wind’ (1939), Mammy and her petticoat ::: Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett

 

designed by Walter Plunkett.
designed by Walter Plunkett.
Das Land des Regenbaums (Raintree County, USA 1957,
Das Land des Regenbaums (Raintree County, USA 1957,

 

Walter Plunkett's costume sketches for Vivien Leigh as 'Scarlett O’Hara' in Gone With the Wind (1939)
Walter Plunkett’s costume sketches for Vivien Leigh as ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ in Gone With the Wind (1939)

 

Jennifer Jones in Mme Bovary, costume by Walter Plunkett
Jennifer Jones in Mme Bovary, costume by Walter Plunkett
Mae West, Night After Night, 1932 (costume by Walter Plunkett)
Mae West, Night After Night, 1932 (costume by Walter Plunkett)
Walter Plunkett costume test for THE SEA OF GRASS (‘47).
Walter Plunkett costume test for THE SEA OF GRASS (‘47).
Gone with the Wind. Costume design by Walter Plunkett
Gone with the Wind. Costume design by Walter Plunkett

 

 Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh, Gone With the Wind, 1939 (costumes by Walter Plunkett)

Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh, Gone With the Wind, 1939 (costumes by Walter Plunkett)
Gone with the Wind. Costume design by Walter Plunkett.
Gone with the Wind. Costume design by Walter Plunkett.
Walter Plunkett for Gone with the wind.
Walter Plunkett for Gone with the wind.
Katharine Hepburn in Walter Plunkett for "Christopher Strong" (1933)
Katharine Hepburn in Walter Plunkett for “Christopher Strong” (1933)
Gown with fur trim for Lady Catelyn Stark Costume design by Walter Plunket
Gown with fur trim for Lady Catelyn Stark Costume design by Walter Plunket
Katharine Hepburn began her movie career at RKO. She preferred working with Walter Plunkett, especially for his stylish re-creations of historic costume. Here Hepburn is shown in a Plunkett costume from Mary of Scotland, 1936.
Katharine Hepburn began her movie career at RKO. She preferred working with Walter Plunkett, especially for his stylish re-creations of historic costume. Here Hepburn is shown in a Plunkett costume from Mary of Scotland, 1936.
Elizabeth Taylor's dress for the final scenes in Little Women, costume designer Walter Plunkett
Elizabeth Taylor’s dress for the final scenes in Little Women, costume designer Walter Plunkett
Walter Plunkett Mae West
Walter Plunkett Mae West
Walter Plunkett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dolores del Rio and Fred Astaire in Flying down to Rio, 1933
Dolores del Rio and Fred Astaire in Flying down to Rio, 1933

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walter Plunkett (costumer for Gone with the Wind) fitting Vivien Leigh in a sport jacket. Note that the armholes have gussets, and that the back has a yoke, a belt, and pleats in the skirt. This is the kind of jacket you need if you are going to be squatting in your sport jacket.
Walter Plunkett (costumer for Gone with the Wind) fitting Vivien Leigh in a sport jacket. Note that the armholes have gussets, and that the back has a yoke, a belt, and pleats in the skirt. This is the kind of jacket you need if you are going to be squatting in your sport jacket.

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