Blithe Spirits to soothe the Soul
One of my all time favourite films, so well loved, I can't even remember the number of times I've seen it, is Blithe Spirit. Based on the Noel Coward play, the film version came out in 1945, at the end of the war. With a biting script that makes me laugh every time no matter how low my mood and beautiful costumes, this film about mischievous spirits, an inept spiritualist and middle aged marriage is tonic to me.
My favourite character is Madame Arcati, the Spiritualist, perfectly played by the great Margaret Rutherford. I spent a leisurely afternoon drawing her outfit on Myrtle May and think at some point I have to make this dress. And the cape! Myrtle's cat, Missy agrees with Madame Arcati, however and disapproves of all forms of occult and arcana. She is a most practical cat.
The House of RAHVIS
I absolutely love the costumes in this film and had never heard of the designer, Rahvis. I had to know more and was surprised to find they were in fact sisters.
Raemonde and Dora were one of only a few female designers working at the time. Born in South Africa, they settled in London in 1929, initially setting up a couture studio in South Molton Street. They designed many dresses for film including Blithe Spirit in 1945. They were amazingly savvy business women, making the most of appearing in newsreels to promote their couture label. I really got the feeling that they were ahead of their time.
When asked, “Do you think that women do this job better than men?” “Of course I do!” says Dora, most emphatically. “Because we know about the fat days and the thin days and the not so pretty days and the sort of plain days that we have. Men can’t possibly know this!”
When their couture business began to decline, Raemonde (Dora had left the busy by then) started to style 60’s pop bands, and in her retirement, moved to California and set up another fashion enterprise, this time developing a new concept: Terry towelling gowns for glamorous pool parties. These were a huge success and sold all over America. In 1981, aged 78, Raemonde designed the costumes for the female stars of the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only. Such an amazing career!
"You've made an awful mess of that flower border Charles, it looks like a mixed salad"
Elvira gets some of the most pointed and scathing lines in the film and should I be going anywhere this Halloween, I think she may be who I go as! Such a gorgeous dress and green tinged skin- how could I not?
If you haven't seen this delight of a film, I strongly urge you to do so. At the very least it will pass the time and at best, keep you laughing throughout. It will also inspire a few wardrobe ideas too I'm sure. Now that I've written about it, I think I shall go and watch it again on this cool but sunny summers day.
I hope you are enjoying your Sunday and get the chance to enjoy Blithe Spirit as much as I have!