Springtime Fashions: The Marriage Playground (1929)
As winter slowly melts away into spring, I thought it might be nice to look at some light springtime fashions from The Marriage Playground to help us shake off our winter blues. The film is based on Edith Wharton’s 1928 novel “The Children” and is set in the Italian seaside resort of Cortina. The story revolves around Judy Wheater, the eldest of a group of mixed siblings, trying to keep them all together as a family unit, against the antics of all of their jet setting partying parents who act like children.
This Paramount Picture film has quite the cast for 1929, as it stars Fredric March, Lilyan Tashman, Mary Brian, Kay Francis, Huntley Gordon, William Austin, and Seena Owen – plus a nine year old Anita Louise! By 1929, March was just beginning his ascent as a highly sought after leading man, while Tashman and Francis were established fashion plates. The film has no credited fashion or wardrobe designer, but it’s fairly safe to assume Edith Head, along with chief Paramount designer Travis Banton, designed for the film.
The majority of the men’s and women’s costumes are typical beach and casual fashions of the time and could easily been bought off the rack, but there are a few lovely creations that must have been specifically designed for the film. One distinctive day dress, worn by Brian in a sequence that sees her transition from a young girl to a lady in love, has three large red bows emblazoned on the front. Tashman and Francis share a silk beach lounging suit that is quite remarkable, in that off and on-screen these two women were known for fashion and their ability to wear clothes. The beach suit is a one-piece halter style pants suit with colored waist wraps that tie together in a large knot just below their bottoms. This must have been very uncomfortable to sit in, but these ladies, and it’s still true of fashion today, would do anything to look good. Here’s to spring, warmer temperatures, and the easy breezy fashions of 1929!