Thursday, April 08, 2010

1930s style: Drape cut in Hollywood

"Gold Diggers of 1933" (1933) is a film notable for a couple of things. One is that it opens with the hit song "We're in the Money", a tune recognizable even today. It is also a pre-code Hollywood film, meaning it was not subject to the censorship guidelines that went into effect a year later.

From a clothing perspective (or lack thereof in the case of the Busby Berkeley musical numbers), the most edifying moment of this film arrives in the form of the character (Brad Roberts) played by Dick Powell.

In several scenes he wears a suit jacket featuring the elusive, oft-mentioned but rarely depicted "drape" cut. This is probably one of the clearest (and best looking) visual examples of a drape cut or drape treatment I've come across. In this case, I have selected three frames showing the front drape in the chest area between the armhole and the lapels.

The first still shows Powell (center) seated on the sofa. You can see the distinct vertical fold of fabric, especially on his left chest area next to the lapel, signifying the tell-tale drape cut.
Gold Diggers of 1933 - Dick Powell drape 03

Closer up below, the drape fold on his right chest lays differently with his hands in his pockets.
Gold Diggers of 1933 - Dick Powell drape 04

Finally, the drape effect is also clearly visible (right chest) as Powell stands in profile.
Gold Diggers of 1933 - Dick Powell drape 05

Additional links
- Page 79 of a Styleforum thread showing how the front drape on the chest is created
- German tailor's post (aka "tailorgod") in the same thread on the effect of drape in the back and undersleeve area
- Chicago tailor Chris Despos' experience with the drape cut - Yes, American tailors do know how to do the drape cut

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