Valles: Men’s Costumes (1938-1960)
Fred Valles was an English designer who is mostly know for designing men’s costumes at MGM from 1938-1950, and as one of the Oscar winning designers for “Spartacus” (1960). He was credited professionally as “Valles” (pronounced Va-YEZ), and for reasons unknown, sometimes as Arlington Valles. During the 1950’s, Valles turned to television as the designer for the highly popular children’s “Captain Video” science-fiction series.
Hardly anything is known of Valles’ career before he came to Hollywood or even his personal life in Hollywood. His first film credit is for The Christmas Carol (1938). After this he seems to have settled into a nice niche as a designer of men’s outfits at MGM, often in collaboration with the studio’s other designers of female costumes, such as Helen Rose, Dolly Tree, Walter Plunkett or even head MGM designer Adrian. Valles was a versatile and competent designer who tackled many genres, from westerns to period dramas, and has many solo credits to his name. His impressive list of titles includes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939), At The Circus (1939), Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940), National Velvet (1944), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), The Yearling (1946), The Harvey Girls (1946), Good News (1947), Take Me Out To The Ballgame (1949), The Barkley’s of Broadway (1949), and Kim (1950).
After he left MGM, Valles became the costume designers for DuMont Television Productions and worked on their largely forgotten, but wildly popular, Captain Video children’s science fiction TV series’, Captain Video and His Video Rangers (1952-1955), The Secret Files of Captain Video (1953-1954), and Captain Video and His Cartoon Rangers (1956).
Valles ended his career by winning the Best Costume Design – Color, along side fellow designer Bill Thomas, for the Kirk Douglas film Spartacus (1960). The duo beat out some stiff competition from Irene Sharaff for Can-Can, Irene for Midnight Lace, Edith Head for Pepe, and Marjorie Best for Sunrise at Campobello. Spartacus is full of daring, traditional, and at times subtle costumes. A perfect ending to a career that played it safe as the second fiddle.