Turning Classic Movies: Funny Girl
Jan 26, 2011 - by Lester Brathwaite
Hello, Gor-juss. TCM, Turning Classic Movies, brings to light classic movies with a flair for fashion. This week's feature is Barbra Streisand's 1968 film debut, Funny Girl.
Funny Girl is an example of great period costuming. The period in question is the early 20th century, before hemlines skyrocketed to above the knee and when Vaudeville was king.
Based on the 1964 musical, the film tells the story of famed Ziegfeld girl Fanny Brice (Babs) and her love affair with dashing gambler/scoundrel Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif). A plain girl with a big talent (sound familiar?), Fanny is determined to become a star and to net Nicky as her own.
Once she becomes a star in the Ziegfeld Follies, costumer Irene Sharaff* ups the glamor, taking Fanny from sailor collars to beaded evening gowns, just in time to extol the virtues of people who need other people.
The film is full of wonderful ensembles, including this blue silk, empire-waisted gown in which Fanny plans to seduce Nick...
Only to inevitably be seduced...
But the best and most iconic look from the entire film and perhaps of Barbra's illustrious career is the orange, ankle-length wool gown with matching Nehru jacket, accessorized with a fur muff and hat, which is incidentally my default traveling outfit.
I defy any meteorologist to rain on this sartorial parade:
Everything about this costume says "Get outta my effin' way and throw me on a G-D tugboat cuz I'm a star!"; the layered skirt, the belt and the oversized muff, which is a postscript that says, "If you don't like it, I've got a French manicure that would look great smeared across your insolent cheek."
Funny Girl not only introduced the world to Barbra Streisand -- movie star, but also Barbra Streisand -- style icon. Case in point, Jennifer Aniston's editorial homage in Harper's Bazaar.
And at the 1969 Academy Awards, Babs revived the sailor collar to collect her prize for a job well done.
* Fun fact: Irene Sharaff not only dressed Babs for Funny Girl and later in Hello Dolly!, but also Judy Garland in the 1954 version of A Star is Born (which Babs famously remade in 1976) and the 1945 production, Ziegfeld Follies, which also starred Fanny Brice.