Mommie Dearest film costumes


Mommie Dearest film costumes

I’m fortunate to have been brought up by a very glamorous and sophisticated mother, who at an early age, introduced me to the wonderful world of vintage Hollywood. I was mesmerised by the performances and beauty of such stars like Veronica Lake, Rita Hayworth and particularly Joan Crawford, of whom I’ve read probably every biography that’s ever had pen put to paper. Of those, one caused huge controversy, its title is Mommie Dearest and it was written by her daughter Christina.

Christina Crawford is Joan’s adopted daughter and her hugely successful 1978 biography of her mother was turned into a 1981 film starring Faye Dunaway. Mommie Dearest, either rightly or wrongly, portrayed Joan as a very cruel woman, an alcoholic and an abusive mother, an image that many of her adoring fans have found difficult to accept. Nevertheless, the film has found a place in popular culture and for me, it’s been an inspiration set-piece for my 1940s costuming and styling.

Mommie Dearest

(Left) Christina and Joan Crawford (Right) Mara Hobel and Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest


A few years ago, by sheer coincidence, I went to an auction at Bonhams, that consisted of clothing from some of the films that Angels has been involved in the production of. Amongst the odd assortment, I stumbled upon two dresses from Mommie Dearest that were being sold as one lot. I tried them on, they fitted me like a glove and I knew then that I simply had to win them, it was beyond my control.

Well I did win the auction and two wonderful outfits that were worn by Ms Dunaway are now in my possession and just so we’re clear, that means FOREVER and I will never ever sell them. Why? Well, one of the dresses was worn in what has become the seminal scene of the film and arguably it’s most controversial. It’s the “No wire hangers!” dress that puts in an appearance when an off-the-scale with rage Joan return home to beat her daughter senseless for hanging her clothes on a wire hanger. The other dress was worn in the opening scene of the film. In it, Joan is preparing for a dance scene in The Ice Follies of 1939. It’s a blue ice-skating outfit made from thousands of hand-sewn sequins and from what I’ve been told since meeting someone who worked in the costume department for Mommie Dearest, the hat alone for it was more expensive to make than many designer dresses of the day. The reason for this? The perfectionism is the legendary Irene Sharaff, Chief Costume Designer for the film and who’s last film work this was to be. Ms Sharaff created costumes for Hello Dolly!The King and I, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, West Side Story and is second only to Edith Head in Oscar count for film costume designing.


So, sometimes I guess, dreams do come true and I’m also guessing that you’d all like to see what these dresses look like.

 Mommie Dearest costume

Ice Skating outfit from Mommie Dearest

Mommie Dearest film costumes

Detail of Ice Skating outfit from Mommie Dearest

No wire hangers dress

“No Wire Hangers” dress from Mommie Dearest


Mommie Dearest editorial

And on a final fashion note, it seems I’m not the only one to take a keen interest in the film, back in 2008 Numero Magazine devoted an editorial to the film. Here’s their take – Model: Siri Tøllerod, Photographer: Sofia Sanchez & Mauro Mongiello, Stylist: Samuel François

Mommie Dearest editorial

Numero 2008

Mommie Dearest editorial

13 Responses
  • Avatar
    November 28, 2019

    Where could I buy one like it? I remember a few years back I found a company that makes them. It’s for my wife.

    • Dominique de Merteuil
      Dominique de Merteuil
      November 28, 2019

      You can’t.
      I bought both dresses at a Bonhams auction. They are the original pieces from “Mommie Dearest” film (1981) designed by Irene Sharaff and worn by Faye Dunaway.

      Have a look at The Haverdrils evening gown from NICOL & FORD. or perhaps Marlene dress from Marilyn Feltz. They don’t have buttonts at the front but they are still really lovely.

  • Avatar
    Kerrie Ann
    October 4, 2012

    Where have you been hiding? Fashion world needs you! x

  • Avatar
    July 30, 2012

    A person essentially lend a hand to make significantly posts I’d state. That is the first time I frequented your website page and up to now? I amazed with the research you made to make this actual submit extraordinary. Great activity!

  • Avatar
    July 19, 2012

    Her dress from “No More Wire Hangers” is just.. so divine!
    I adore it and you look amazing in it!

  • Avatar
    vineyard collection wedding dresses
    July 14, 2012

    Hello.This article was extremely motivating, particularly because I was searching for thoughts on this matter last Wednesday.

  • Avatar
    July 10, 2012

    Love the blue ice-skating outfit :))) Amazing!

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