Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hitchcock Blondes

Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren in The Girl 
I'm loving these stills of Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren in the forthcoming HBO movie The Girl, based on Alfred Hitchcock's obsession with Tippi Hedren. 

Hitchcock spotted young model Tippi Hedren in a soft drink ad on TV and arranged a screen test for her. With limited acting experience, at 23 Hedren was cast in The BirdsHedren filmed The Birds and Marnie with Hitchcock.

Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchock on The Birds set
Tippi Hedren in The Birds

Hitchcock had an obsession with the young ingenue and when she spurned his advances,  Hedren was subjected to a grueling shoot, culminating in a terrifying bird attack shoot which she thought would involve mechanical birds, but in reality was filmed over 5 days using live gulls, ravens and crows, hurled at her by handlers. She suffered cuts and scratches, her cheek gouged and her eye almost pecked out. She suffered from a nervous breakdown after she suffered "nightmares filled with flapping wings". 

On the set of Marnie, Hitchcock sent champagne to Hedren's dressing room every day. He would not let her work for any other directors, and Hedren was apparently subjected to his unwanted sexual advances. After a particularly overt sexual proposition when he was alone with Hedren, his biographer Spoto says following this incident, Hitchcock "refused to address Tippi Hedren personally. He never even uttered her name, referring only to "that girl." His directions to her on the set were given through assistants. Incurring Hitchcock's wrath through her repeated refusal to enter into any type of sexual relationship with him, Hedren's career faltered.  "It grew to be impossible. He was a very controlling type of person, and I guess I'm not about to be controlled." Hitchcock threatened to destroy her career. "And he did. Kept me under contract, kept paying me every week for almost two years to do nothing. People have said, ‘Was he in love with you?’" Hedren said. “No, he wasn't. When you love someone, you treat them well. I think we're dealing with a mind here that is incomprehensible, and I certainly am not capable of discerning what was going through his mind or why. I certainly gave no indication that I would ever be interested in any kind of a relationship with him.”
Sienna Miller and Tippi Hedren
Hitchcock used a very definite type of woman as his female leads - almost always cool blonde ingenues with porcelain complexions. They were enigmatic, mysterious, sophisticated and sexy with an inner icy cool - the 'Hitchcock Blonde'. This specific look included ashy, champagne-blonde hair, neutral muted shades of immaculately tailored clothes, a the perfectly manicured brow.  You'll often see references to the Hitchcock Blonde look throughout fashion, and Hollywood. From Betty Catroux to the blonde Abbey-Lee Kershaw, Gwyneth Paltrow to Naomi Watts. The perfectly coiffed hair scraped back into pristine up-dos have a buttoned-up sexiness about them, hinting of some kind of fiery inner emotion simmering beneath a fetishistic secretary-esque exterior. 

Kim Novak in Vertigo
Alas, as Kim Novak said to Vertigo's costumer designer Edith Head "I don’t wear suits, and I don’t wear gray. Another thing, I don’t wear black pumps,” Hitchcock replied “I don’t care what she wears as long as it’s a gray suit". And that is what she wore - an indelible, strong and amazing look. Novak later said "I had never had a director who was particular about the costumes, the way they were designed, the specific colors". Marlene Dietrich wore a gray suit in Stage Fright, Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Tippi Hedren in The Birds. Gray suits, black pumps and blonde hair epitomized the cool Hitchcock 'Woman of Mystery" - an icy cool with a fiery inner strength and passion.
 Marlene Deitrich in Stage Fright
Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much
Tippi Hedren (with Sean Connery) in Marnie

Rear Window's Grace Kelly

Janet Leigh Jamie-Lee  in Psycho

Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr inspired by To Catch a thief, Vanity Fair, 2008
Charlize Theron inspired by Dial M for Murder, Vanity Fair, 2008
Naomi Watts as Tippi Hedren in Marnie, Vanity Fair, 2008
Renee Zellweger as Kim Novak in Vertigo, Vanity Fair, 2008
Scarlett Johansson (with Javier Bardem) as Grace Kelly 
in Rear Window, Vanity Fair, 2008

Scarlet Johansson channels Grace Kelly in Black Dahlia

Here are a few latest looks both directly and indirectly inspired by the Hitchcock Blonde look.

Galliano Paris pre-Fall 2012 collection 
inspired by Tippi Hedren in The Birds

Marnya Linchuk Grace Kelly style for Vogue Espana

Jessica Hart for Vogue Australia

Abbey Lee Kershaw channels Hitcock Blondes for Vogue China


Karolina Kurkova for Bottega Veneta Spring 2011
Doutzen Kroes goes Grace Kelly cool for Loreal

Kate Moss for Mango 2012


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