December 18, 2014
Elegance, glamour in Lannes exhibition
For The Herald
Famous costume designer displays dresses worn by well-known movie stars
“Art, history and fantasy make the axis of this exhibition,” said architect Alberto Bellucci, the director of the National Museum of Decorative Art, when he opened the exhibit Horace Lannes. Elegance and glamour in Argentine cinema. Absolutely right. Lannes has an unfailing eye and a sharp instinct, otherwise called talent, for his métier (the art), which he has followed for 60 years now (history, both of fashion and Argentine cinema), producing a magnificent collection of creations that are beautiful and have always helped to build the character involved (fantasy).
The splendid interiors of the museum are a great frame to the superb evening gowns with fine embroideries, the tailleurs from the past, and the impeccable gent’s suits and tail-coats. In the basement hall there are sketches of gowns that Lannes has made throughout so many years, and photographs of the designer with the most important local stars of the past and the present, from Mirtha Legrand (in a pink tailleur at the opening), Susana Giménez, Amelia Bence, Tita Merello, Virginia Luque (recently deceased), Lolita Torres, Isabel Sarli, Graciela Borges, Duilio Marzio, Pa-lito Ortega, Sandro and many others, to Lannes’s monumental last contribution to film-making, when in 2004 he dressed Norma Aleandro, Leticia Brédice, Inés Estévez and all the cast, including the many extras, of the film Ay, Juancito! about Eva Perón’s brother. Oscar de la Renta also poses with Horace in a photo, while in another Lannes is standing in front of the Carnegie Hall in NY where he made a presentation in the 1970s. Foreign stars such as Vittorio Gassman and Arlene Dahl also wore his outfits. In the basement clutch bags and hats with profuse feathers (very hard to get nowadays, Horace mentioned) from bygone times may also be admired. Lannes has also written two books: La Moda en el Espectáculo (Fashion in Show Business) and Moda y Vestuario en el Cine Argentino (Fashion and Costumes in Argentine Cinema).
There was a warm feeling of appreciation for the designer in the large audience at the opening of the exhibition, which was sponsored by the National Culture Ministry, by the Museum and the Association of Friends of the Museum of Decorative Art. The good-looking, now elderly Lannes recalled how at a very young age he had dared to take part in a casting and was given the responsibility of making the costumes for Ernesto Arancibia’s La Mujer de las Camelias (The Woman with the Camelias) with superstar Zully Moreno, which had its première in 1953 with great success for the designer as well. Lannes, who has since received a number of awards and was recently proclaimed “Outstanding Personality in Culture,” also thanked everybody who had helped to materialize this exhibition, organized it — such as architect Bellucci and museologist Hugo Pontoriero — or restored the pieces — such as Ms. Astudillo and Ms. Noetinger. Lannes was especially grateful to Ms. Elizabeth Boote, a prominent member of the Association of Friends of the Museum, who said to the Herald : “The museum is extraordinary and so is the collection, which is ideal for this palace.” Dolores Jaureguialzo, also a member of the Association, explained: “A selection was made of about 100 pieces focusing on his contribution to the cinema, although Lannes has worked for the stage and privately as well, but in a lesser degree, he says. Susana Giménez (whose dazzling Molly Brown golden evening gown is on display) yesterday mentioned Horace’s perfectionism.”
Another top fashion designer, Rosina, said to the Herald: “I have seen exhibitions like this in Paris, it is wonderful to have such an exquisite one in Buenos Aires. This took a lot of work.” Graciela Carlossi and Viviana Fontanini are two of the mannequins who used to show Lannes’ clothes. They stressed the fact that designers like Lannes took into account the actresses’ physical characteristics and flaws, so that they should look beautiful, which does not always happen today. The audience at the opening included such diverse personalities as Jorge Luis Borges’ widow María Kodama, and actor and comic Guido Gorgatti. Top fashion designer Gino Bogani told the Herald: “I think this is fantastic, a testimony of wearing apparel as it was in the golden era of Argentine cinema during which Horace Lannes was very important.” Mr. Fred Sill, who was the manager of Paramount Pictures in Buenos Aires in the early 70s and is a member of the American Academy, came to the opening from Brazil: he is fascinated with the Alvear family mansions such as the Museum building. “Back then some of the managers here weren’t too interested in the promotion of this city, so I lent a hand, and when movie stars like Charlton Heston and his wife Lydia came from Hollywood I would ask Horace, who was so good, to show them around,” he told the Herald. “Horace is eternally young and enthusiastic.”
This exhibition, should not be missed.
Where & When
Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo (Avda. del Libertador 1902). Tuesdays to Sundays, from 2pm to 7pm, until August 31. Admission: 20 pesos; free for pensioners and children under 12. Free admission on Tuesdays. Guided tours are available.