I really wanted to draw Mae West as Leticia Van Allen for this post. Raquel Welch is a bit of a dead pulse in 1970’s Myra Breckinridge, a movie notorious for making critics’ Worst lists. Its costumery is really what takes center stage, each scene a new and different sartorial showcase, and it looks like Theadora Van Runkle had a really good time dressing the movie’s cast.
Except that Thea didn't dress West. For her return to the silver screen, the aged icon demanded she be outfitted by an equally legendary artist: Edith Head. So, while West’s dresses may look fabulous, they are not technically Van Runkles.
Several years earlier, when Theadora was shopping for fabric for Bonnie and Clyde, she'd run into Head and asked for advice. “Oh, darling,” Head said, “do everything in chiffon—you’ll have no problems.” Bonnie and Clyde ended up being noted for its chiffon-lessness, and when the two designers collaborated on Myra Breckinridge, their differing visions resulted in just one of many on-set aesthetic clashes: West’s signature look for the movie was black and white, and when Welch came to set dressed in a black dress with a white ruffled collar, West demanded the collar be spraypainted blue.
I liked drawing this look because of its tension between the profane and sacred, the cleavage taking center stage amid an almost saintly hood. That iconic American-flag one-piece does this too, I guess, but I wanted to draw something here that was a little more Thea and a little less Raquel.
Check back tomorrow for Bernadette Peters as Marie Kimble!