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Monday, December 22, 2014

Hollywood Costume Designer Adrian Dresses Camelot

Adrian (1903-1959) achieved success as a designer in the Hollywood of the 1930s by producing sculptured caps for Greta Garbo, ostrich feathered negligees for Jean Harlow and lame trench coats for Joan Crawford. But as a boy in the industrial town of Naugatuck, Connecticut, Adrian Adolph Greenburg sketched fire-breathing dragons and fed his lively imagination on the mythology of the Middle Ages.

Adrian had just returned from a retirement forced by a heart attack when Camelot director Moss Hart asked if he would be interested in doing the costumes for the musical. Retiring to his studio with a copy of T. H. Whites The Once and Future King, on which the libretto was based, Adrian produced 84 sketches. While Camelot was in the early stages of production, he dies of another heart attack (1959). His long time associate Tony Duquette completed the assignment from Adrians sketches, a number of which we show you here. 

 Director Moss Hart, far left, looks and listens as librettist Alan Jay Lerner suggests a change in the chain-mail costume being tried on by Robert Goulet, who played the role of Lancelot.

 Carrying his pet owl Archimedes and brandishing a magic wand, Merlyn the magician appears in flowing robes decorated with occult symbols.

 For an early evening on the castle Arthur is attired in the elaborately embroidered tunic.

 Adrian designed an enveloping cape for Arthur to wear in the royal box at the jousting field.

 Guenevere wears a flaming red cloak when Arthur, who has hidden in a tree, catches his first glimpse of her.

 For a scene in the Great Hall, Guenevere is regally clad in an ermine trimmed gown.

 During the scene in the Queens bedchamber, Lancelot is attired only in jerkin and hose.

 Dress for combat, he appears in chain mail and other armor under a tunic decorated with dragons.

 King Pellinore, the aging comic knight who has known Arthur since the latter's boyhood, is arrayed from head to foot in a suit of rusty, clanking armor.

 In costumes adorned with frills and feathers, young ladies of the court of Camelot dance and sing in honor of the joyous month of May.
A severe combination of black and white brings out the sinister character of wicked Mordred, who corrupts King Arthur's court.

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