Fashion & Film: It's All About Fashion in "All About Eve"

Posted: Jul 26 2017

It’s all about fashion in “ All About Eve” and no one wears it better than Bette Davis.  From the moment her character, the aging but enchanting stage actress Margo Channing, sweeps onto the screen, she demands nothing less than our full attention.  In her words, “fasten your seat belts, you are in for a bumpy night.”

“All About Eve” was an estrogen shot in the arm for America in 1950.  Nominated for a record breaking fourteen Academy Awards, it is still the only movie in Oscar history to have four female acting nominations.  Bette Davis and Anne Baxter were nominated for lead actress and Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter for supporting.  A more talented group of women never shared the silver screen.

The film may be all about the competition between Bette Davis’s Margo and Anne Baxter’s Eve, but it is the beautiful costumes created by Edith Head that steal each scene.  Although the movie is set in 1950, she pulls from the 1930s and 1940s for inspiration.  Fur coats, satin gowns, fitted wools suits, jewels, pearls, brooches, silk negligees, and structured leather handbags fill the screen.  Doing what she does best, Edith designs each costume to fit the character and the moment.  She takes Eve from an ugly duckling ingénue catering to Margo’s every whim to a beautiful, devious swan that steals the spotlight any way she can.  Eve’s costumes are by far the most evolved in the film.  However, it is Bette Davis’s movie.  In each scene she models one outfit more magnificent than the last.  We especially love the black satin gown she wears to her lover’s birthday party.  It is as dramatic as her behavior, and as memorable as her character.  Sheer perfection! 

After all the drama subsides between Margo and Eve and the credits roll, the lesson learned from this wonderful film is that beauty is ageless.  It comes from within.  Women are worth much more than their faces or figures.  However, maybe a few gorgeous gowns and spectacular diamonds worn along the way won’t hurt anyone.

See Edith Head's beautiful costumes below.

Images: “All About Eve,” Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950.