Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Temple Tuesday: Our Little Girl and René

Costumes for Shirley’s 1935 film “Our Little Girl” were designed by Swiss-born René Hubert (1895-1976), who studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in St. Gallen and at the Beaux Arts in Paris, and later worked for fashion designer/parfumier Jean Patou. He did some costume design for theatrical revues in Berlin and France (including for the Folies Bergère), where Gloria Swanson discovered him. She persuaded Hubert to join her in Hollywood at Paramount as designer for her entire personal and professional wardrobe. Hubert also made the rounds at the other studios: MGM (1927-1931); 20th Century-Fox (1931-1935), where he also did the gowns for Shirley’s “Curly Top”; at Alexander Korda’s London Films (1935-1938), where he designed the futuristic costumes for “Things to Come” (1936); then back to Fox (1943-1950). He excelled at period costume on many historical dramas, including “That Hamilton Woman” (1941) and “Anastasia” (1956). Although he was nominated twice for an Oscar (1954 and 1964), he did not win either time. Back to “Our Little Girl”…

Hubert was probably the most fashion-forward designers that Shirley worked with during her childhood career. His designs for her are adorable, yet still innovative and timeless. Children of today could still wear these and look contemporary. The Ideal Toy Company reproduced many of Hubert’s outfits from the movie for their Shirley Temple doll. Here are a few comparisons of the real thing and the miniature doll version. Ideal typically released their costumes with different fabrics; this particular hat and coat set (Shirley models the outfit in this post’s first photo) was yellow:

Many years later, the Danbury Mint did their own version of the hat and coat as part of their Shirley Temple Dress-Up doll series:

What was under the coat? This adorable little gingham dress and bolero top, known as the “September Saturday” outfit:

The actual three-piece silk ensemble Shirley wore, as it looked in the 2015 Theriault’s auction, “Love, Shirley Temple”:

The 1930’s Ideal version, which was also made in a variety of fabrics and colors:

Here is the “Musical Note” dress that Shirley wore. Note the flared sleeves:

…and the Ideal version:

The “Scottie Dog” dress that Shirley wore, constructed of silk-like linen with an inverted box pleat down the front.

How about those yarn leashes?

Hubert’s original sketch, with the fabric swatch he selected in the upper left-hand corner:

…and the Ideal version:

There was such a high demand for these dolls that Ideal had to farm out some of the sewing work to moms at home. This probably accounts for why there are so many variations in craftsmanship, materials, and design. This blue version only had two scotties:

My favorite one of the bunch is the blue cotton/linen “Saturday-In-May Cake Dress,” with its art deco inspired striping along the sleeves and front panel.

It would appear that at some point over the years the distinctive belt was lost.

The Ideal version rounded the belt, which was a very nice touch:

Another favorite Hubert design from the movie was this alphabet dress, which I do not believe was ever released in doll form:

Made of cream silk sateen, it survived over the years and hit the auction block in 2015, too:

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

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