Style Icon: Hitchcock Starlets

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The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Photo: Britannica

She’s a sun kissed San Franciscan with a mysterious past. She’s a beautiful, intelligent, no nonsense kind of gal who happens to be a master of espionage. She’s a well-spoken young socialite, with a penchant for pretty dresses and sparkling jewels. The Hitchcock lead actress is complex, intriguing, and above all else, absolutely glamorous. I’d like to dedicate today’s Style Icon to the talented actresses who brought films like VertigoNotorious, and Rear Window to life.

Kim Novak

Kim Novak

Photo: Screenmusings

Twenty-five year old Kim Novak, born Marilyn Pauline Novak, starred in Hitchcock’s 1958 thriller, Vertigo, as a brunette shopgirl, Judy, who masquerades as a bombshell blonde, Madeleine, in complex murder mystery.

Kim Novak

Photo: Screenmusings

Novak epitomized Hitchcock’s leading lady archetype – an icy, intriguing blonde, who is as cool as she is chic. Throughout the film, Novak sported some of my all-time favorite cinematic ensembles. I adored the graphic nature of her iconic black and white ensemble, shown above, and the emerald green accent of her midnight black satin frock, shown below, sparked my love of glamorous gemstone hues.

Kim Novak

Photo: Screenmusings

Novak’s pin-up panache and timeless beauty continues to inspire millions. In 2005, the late and great Alexander McQueen named his first epic handbag the “Novak.” The bowler-esque bag features a strong, dominating silhouette, mixed with a dash of vintage femininity – an apt homage to the striking starlet, if you ask me!

Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman

Photos: Flickr user manitou2121, Alfred Hitchcock Wiki

Before becoming an American superstar (she’s currently ranked as the fourth greatest female star of American cinema by the American Film Institute), Swedish beauty Ingrid Bergman was a leading actress in a number of European films. Bergman’s staggering good looks, and undeniable talent made her an obvious choice for three of Hitchcock’s finest films – Spellbound, Notorious, and Under Capricorn.

The flawless details in Bergman’s Notorious guises are what does it for me. Her ensembles are never without the perfect accoutrements – from the perfect pair of pearl earrings to the bedazzled medallion choker, shown above, Bergman’s mastery of noteworthy notions is a force to be reckoned with.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly

Photos: Flickr user manitou2121, Flickr user ___carmendy

Recently, on our Facebook page, we posed the question, “Who is your favorite modern day style icon, and favorite style icon of the past?” We received an overwhelming response of amazing answers, and many of you admitted to having a serious infatuation with Grace Kelly. Glancing at a photo of the brilliant former Princess of Monaco never fails to take my breath away. The blue eye, blonde hair, picturesque maven enchanted millions with her performance in three Hitchcock films, including my personal favorite, Rear Window.

We first meet Lisa Fremont, a New York model and socialite, twenty minutes into Rear Window. She emerges wearing a dichotomous gown, bursting with a full white tulle skirt and elegant V-neck black top, topped off with pristine satin gloves, a sheer white shawl, and pearl jewelry.

Kelly’s personal style was equally transfixing. Russian fashion designer Oleg Cassini, whose sequined garments often turn up in my vintage buying excursions, is one of Kelly’s most famous fans. Cassini is rumored to have sent the alluring actress a bouquet of red roses daily until she finally agreed to have lunch with him! Today, Kelly’s the definition of ladylike class. Former co-star, and equally well-revered actor, James Stewart, said of her, “You know, I just love Grace Kelly. Not because she was a princess, not because she was an actress, not because she was my friend, but because she was just about the nicest lady I ever met.”

Do these vintage icons inspire your style?

17 Responses to Style Icon: Hitchcock Starlets

  1. jodi 05/06/2010 at 4:38 pm #

    YES, they definitely inspire my style.
    And Hitchcock is the great director EVER.

    GREAT, GREAT post. Thank you!

  2. RachelC 05/06/2010 at 4:46 pm #

    I love all these women! Grace Kelly was superb in Rear Window! So elegant and, well, graceful. 😉

  3. Angela (ModCloth) 05/06/2010 at 5:09 pm #

    What a great idea, Annie! Ingrid Bergman is one of my absolute favorites!

  4. rhea 05/06/2010 at 6:07 pm #

    Absolutely. So beautiful and great movies too

  5. Jenna 05/06/2010 at 6:12 pm #

    I love Ingrid Bergman! She is one of my favorite actresses and Notorious is one of my favorite moves. And Grace Kelly is so timeless.

  6. Jennifer (ModCloth) 05/06/2010 at 7:37 pm #

    All iconic! Those were the days. Hitchcock is brilliant and Vertigo is my absolute favorite. Thanks for this, Annie!

  7. Emily 05/06/2010 at 9:54 pm #

    I love those movies. And I covet every dress those lovely women wear(though the few dresses in Rear Window are my favorite)!

  8. Megan 05/06/2010 at 10:12 pm #

    *sigh* I love you Grace Kelly

    Thanks for this post it really put a smile on my face 🙂

    (and inspired me to go put on some pearl earrings 🙂 )

  9. natalie hall 05/07/2010 at 1:50 am #

    I find this post to be a little backwards. Hitchcock considered his lead women to be dumb and hysterical, and this is widely known.

  10. vicki 05/07/2010 at 8:19 am #

    Great post, hitchcok was a genius! actresses back then had such class, grace and poise. Big fan of Ingrid and also Marilyn Monroe. 🙂

  11. Annie (ModCloth) 05/07/2010 at 10:27 am #


    You’re right – there is so evidence to suggest that Hitchcock himself viewed some actresses in a less than complementary way. However, my goal in writing this post was to highlight the iconic leading ladies themselves (Kim, Ingrid, and Kelly) – not Mr. Hitchcock!

    Thanks for your feedback, everyone! It was hard to choose only three actresses from Hitchcock’s films. I also love Janet Leigh and Tippi Hedren!

  12. Carly 05/11/2010 at 12:19 pm #

    I just needed to add Eva Marie Saint! I just re-watched North by Northwest and she dazzled in it. She and Tippi are my favs.

    Thanks for the post!

  13. Katelyn Likes This 05/11/2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Those Hitchcock blondes always make me want to lighten my hair!

  14. Angela 05/11/2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Big love to Edith Head also!!! She costumed most of the leading ladies in Hitchcock’s movies.

  15. Corinna 05/11/2010 at 6:15 pm #

    one of my favorite posts! gorgeous- I wish there were more leading ladies spotlighted!

  16. Jenna 05/23/2010 at 2:02 pm #

    What about Joan Fontaine!!! Don’t forget her! (like in Suspicion!! best movie ever, with he best clothes!!)

  17. Katrina 12/23/2010 at 2:33 pm #

    I envy Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much. Her look is one that I always wanted to adopt.

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