“Joan Crawford Preserves Star Image” by Countess Christina Paolozzi, March 21st, 1965
New York - Joan Crawford greeted us at the door of her New York apartment, casual and informal in a wide-striped cotton hostess gown.
Its diagonal yellows, moss greens, light pick and shocking pinks were repeated in a matching rope belt that tied in the front, leaving the back to flow loose.
We were there to get a detailed peek into her very detailed world of fashion over drinks and a tour of the apartment.
At home she is the “average American” – answering her own phone, opening her own front door. But in fashion she lies up to and beyond the image expected from a star of such magnitude.
She has surrounded herself with beautiful but darkly colored paintings, African, Jamaican, modern, Keane portraits, too. And some by a Pepsi-Cola executive. Looking at the portraits of Joan Crawford, I wondered about her trademark – her face.
“Why, when actress were plucking out their eyebrows into a slim oval line and wearing dark red lipstick, did you do just the opposite?”
“Because I found from studying close-ups and early film rushes that the lack of eyebrows gave one a quizzical look. My natural eyebrows gave a complete frame to my eyes. This way one could watch the emotions in my eyes, undistracted by a dark mouth or unnatural expression. Now, what about a tour upstairs?”
On the way upstairs she told us that her hair had just been retouched and colored. In spite of many colorings over her movie years it is still thick and full of body.
“My secret is very simple. After a long day of work, I lie down with my head down on a slanting vibrating board. For fifteen minutes the blood runs into my head. And it doesn’t hurt to keep limber and fit with exercise.”
We walked into a huge room full of mirror-paneled doors. She flung them open to reveal extremely well-organized closets.
First the shoes. Row upon row upon row. I was shocked to see many plastic and rhinestone-covered shoes.
I looked down at her perfect size 4 foot. She in turn looked down at my enormous 6.
“You see, dear, I could never wear those narrow toed shoes. They simply destroy your foot. I’m so happy to see that the rounded toes and thick square heels are coming back in style.”
You probably know that Joan Crawford designs her own clothes.
They are made up by three Japanese girls in California, with the heading done by Gettson.
“Naturally I am influenced by the fashion magazines. And also by Hollywood’s great designers who gave me my start. Jean Louis and Paramount’s Edith Head. She usually dreams up my gowns for the Academy Awards. This year it will be cyclamen color. A magnificent pink.”
Joan Crawford picks up ideas from current fashion and translates them into what looks best on her.
“I know myself very well. I have enormous shoulders and a small waist and smaller hips. My measurements are something like 40 shoulder, 20 waist and 26 hip!”
Millions of words have been written on Joan Crawford’s chic and perfect grooming.
Many consider her the best groomed woman in the entertainment world. She creates this illusion with a becoming choice of colors and the sensational care she gives to detail. But speaking from standards set by the “Best Dressed Lists” she is not.
Everything she wears is a little too perfect.
At the screening preview of “Sound of Music” she wore a sticky-pink brocade long, straight skirted theater suite.
Her gloves were of matching material. And her shoes and turban, with a bow in front were of matching color. For Joan Crawford has closets of matching gloves, shoes and turbans (large and small) to match every theater suit.
Gloves are lined up in drawers according to color. So are the turbans lined up on the shelves. And drawers pull out to reveal matching colored underwear for the theater suits.
"Joan Crawford is one of the most exceptional women I have ever met." As one friend said of her, “She is the greatest asset to any company or film she is involved in. She makes a business of being a movie star, and when she was married, of being a wife.”
The discipline she demands of herself and the extraordinary details that surround her every move keep her one of the world’s most fascinating movie personages. She knows how to see and to capture everything to her best advantage.
(*Special thanks is due to "The Concluding Chapter of Crawford" follower Scott Lindsey for sending in a clipping of this great article)