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Well Hello There Mr Dryden

In Lesson One Part One of how to be Sweet and Charming, Alma introduces us to "ERNEST DRYDEN, the philosopher Viennese" and his Ten Commandments for "saving the fair sex from the pitfalls of bad taste in dressing"

Stepanie M, a Shrimpton blog reader emailed me that she was quite amused to read this as she just happened to have been reading a book on his life at the same time! She went on the share some basics of our fine Viennese friend:

I was much amused to read your posts on Alma's rules for "dressing for your man," especially her quoting "Viennese philosopher" Ernest Dryden's ten rules. I thought you would be intrigued to know: Ernest (actually Ernst) Dryden was a highly successful graphic and costume designer. Career began in his native Vienna before World War I; he later went to America, dying in Hollywood in 1938. He drew ads for Bugatti autos and Cinzano; also many covers and fashion illustrations for the magazine "Die Dame," the German equivalent of "Vogue." In his Hollywood years, he was a costume designer for the films, designing for Marlene Dietrich among other stars. Has to be the same guy as Alma's "philosopher," right? This seems like the type of man who would make rules for women's fashion and style! It just happened that I was reading a book about his life and work and when I read your blog post the name rang a bell. Cheers.

Sounds like our guy right? Though its odd that Alma refers to him as Ernest in the booklet's and not Ernst - I double checked even to make sure I had not inadvertently slipped in a letter or two. I googled him and found a picture of our guy

No offense to the guy but he does look like a bit of a snot here doesn't he?
Seems to be looking down his nose even here.
It's like his eyes are telling us that even though we woman folk are lost causes,
he may deem to help us.

A list of the films he worked on at IMDB.

Dr. Rhythm (1938)

(this pic is copyrighted by the seller of this poster ((??)) anyway its here so no one gets pissy that I used it )

That was a tough movie to find a picture of
seems the critics did not like it.

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) (as Ernst Dryden)

Isn't Douglas Fairbanks absolutely dreamy?
You can see clips of this film here

Lost Horizon (1937) (costumes) (as Ernst Dryden)...
aka Lost Horizon of Shangri-La (USA: reissue title)

This was the official "Hollywood" poster

This was the first release - wonder if Ernst drew this?
You can also see this movie in clips on line here

The Devil's Playground (1937)

No movie poster to be found but I did find this on-set shot. Actress Dolores Del Rio is the girl front and center - chances are good that is an outfit designed by Ernst.

Lady from Nowhere (1936)

Another tough one to dig up but I did come across this pic of Mary Astor in a scene from the film. Its available here

Come Closer, Folks (1936)
sorry - no pic on this one - it seems to have faded somewhat into obscurity though you can pick up a copy on eBay here

The Final Hour (1936)
seems to be even more obscure now - just synopsis's of the plot to be found

The Garden of Allah (1936)

This is the most famous of the films he worked on.
It starred the great Marlene Dietrich.
It was a hit so had multiple posters

Here is a shot from the film


One of the reviews for this films say

"Dietrich sports a new and more stunning gown for every desert occasion, viewers will find no oasis to quench their thirst. Basically, this is a very early version of Hollywood's "sex and sand" films, so popular in the 1950s--lush, unusual, and ultimately silly."

That sounds like reason enough to watch the film to me - you?

If you want to see some of those beautiful gowns click here to see the on-line clips.
They are stills but you get to see a lot of the wardrobe

And I HAD to include this shot of Dietrich and Fairbanks.
This peeps is how movie stars dressed to attend their premieres.

Oh stars and starlets of today take note

go overboard
go glamorous
be a STAR

The King Steps Out (1936)

There is a KILLER shot of a gown worn by Mary Lou Dix and its directly attributed to Ernst but I can't copy it over - so please take a minute to go see it here and then come right back after you wiped the drool off the keyboard

and finally Remember Last Night? (1935) (gowns)

You can see clips of this one here be warned - this movie has a bunch of white people in black-face masks in it so is tough to watch as a modern girl. You might feel like trying to slap it off them but remember that if you do you are actually whacking your computer and you can potentially do some damage.

The world has moved on since then thankfully, so you will just have to feel sad for their views back in those days, be thankful you felt revolted and then let it go.

However, I do want to take a moment and publicly call dibs on the curly haired girl's pot lid - breast plate costume idea.
Its mine - don't even try to post it as your idea next Halloween
go find your own stolen idea please

He also had a book written about his career called The Divinely Elegant - you can get it here on Amazon if you want to send me a present

"Viennese designer Dryden left his mark on magazines, haute couture, movie costumes, erotica, posters and more; his advertisement for a liqueur made a noble thing of a goblet and a tousled bird, while another for a shoe company exalted a robust icon of a womanly ankle. Born Ernst Deutsch in 1887, the artist, who studied with Gustav Klimt, made his name as a poster designer in Berlin in the years before WW I. After the war, he returned to Vienna to design menswear; in 1926, he joined a Berlin fashion magazine as illustrator. During the '30s, he ventured to the United States, continuing his career as a couturier and ending up in Hollywood. Celebrating a "lost world of elegance," Dryden's graphic work revealed here is enchanting: leggy, fey flappers burst from birdcages; attenuated Olympians stride down boulevards of immaculate white space. In tandem with the illustrations, first-time author Lipmann ably sketches the course of a rich career."
-From Publishers Weekly

This is officially in my must read list now.
Contact me of you want to send me a copy

Dryden died in 1938 and in the way of the world, people eventually became interested in collecting his work. Which of course is somewhat rare and hard to find

His sketches seem to fetch a pretty penny too. These are a couple of the sketches that went up for auction at Christie's in 2006

Elegant Ladies
pencil, and grey wash heightened with white, framed and glazed image area 11½in. (29.3 cm.)x 10in. (25.3 cm.)
Sold for £336

African Mask
pencil, grey and black wash heightened with white, framed and glazed, image 18¼in (46.3 cm.) x 11¼in. (28.5 cm.); and another watercolour by the same hand depicting a lady stepping out of a car, framed and glazed
image 10in. (25.3 cm) x 12¾in. (32.3 cm) (2)
Sold for £840

And he is famous enough to be included in Find A Grave.
Good Old Ernst is buried
(actually, its more like he is in a jar)
at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Feel free to leave him flowers if you are in the neighborhood.
I am sure he would approve of such a lady-like gesture on your part

There is no saying for sure if this is the actual Dryden that our Alma met back in her day, he died a year before the book was first copyrighted but that does not make it impossible. I would say the odds are about 99.9% in our favor that that he is our guy, whether Alma chose to call him Ernst or not.

I am sort of intrigued now to see if he makes further appearances as we continue on our journey together to become Sweet & Charming. The next installment of the lesson will most likely end up being done tomorrow so come on back to read more with me!


starcakeastrology.blogspot.com said...

i love those drawings "elegant ladies" and "african mask"

keenonboys said...

that gown worn by mary lou dix! fit like a glove! and that was back when photoshop wasnt even invented. she had to be flawless. amazing. simply amazing.
im really really enjoying all your blog posts about this sweet and charming biz. go you with all this investigating this guy! youre quite the multi-tasker! :D

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