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Happy Birthday Howard Greer - The Designer of Tabletop Dresses and Edith Head's First Hollywood Boss

Posted on 16 April 2015

One of my favorite designers, Howard Greer would have celebrated his 119th birthday today! Greer was a fashion designer and a Hollywood costume designer who began his career working for Lucile (Lady Duff Gordon), in 1916, in the New York and Chicago branches of her shop. It's interesting to note, that Vera West, the costume designer who was known for the gowns she created for Horror Film stars, also worked for Lucile.  

Vintage Designer Howard Greer

After serving in the war, Greer stayed in Europe, where he continued working for Lucille, but also worked for Paul Poiret, and Molyneux. It was during that time in Europe that Greer began designing costumes for the theatre.  After returning to the United States in 1921, Greer was hired as chief designer for a studio that would ultimately become Paramount Pictures.  While at Paramount, Greer designed costumes for over 47 films, mostlly uncredited, including The Ten Commandments in 1923,   It was during his time at Paramount, that Greer hired a young, inexperienced assistant who would work for him for 3 years; Edith Head. 

Edith Head Wearing Howard Greer

The photo above of a young Edith Head and the one below of Edith at a picnic with Howard Greer on the ground in back, are both from: Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood's Greatest Costume Designer By Jay Jorgensen

Edith Head Picnic

Howard Greer

Howard Greer "black comet" dress from his ready to wear line at Jay Thorpe New York

Greer continued to design for films (namely Bringing Up Baby with Katharine Hepburn in 1938, and the gowns for the film My Favorite Wife in 1940), until his retirement in the late 1960's.

Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Bringing up Baby 1938

Sylvia Sidney in a Howard Greer dress from The Thirty Day Princess 1934

Howard Greer designed Gloria Vanderbilt's wedding dress when she married Pat diCicco in 1941

In an interview by T.J Wilcox for Interview magazine, Gloria Vanderbilt recalled the beautiful Howard Greer "tabletop dresses" she wore in her youth;

"...those were by Howard Greer, who designed a lot of Rita Hayworth's clothes. When Pat and I used to date, we'd go out to nightclubs with Rita, who was then married to Eddie Judson, and she was wearing Howard Greer's clothes. Howard Greer called them tabletop dresses because women then were photographed in nightclubs sitting at tables, so it was from the table up that the dress was designed to be very glamorous."

Gloria Vanderbilt age 17 in a photo by Horst P. Horst

We have a beautiful silk chiffon vintage Howard Greer evening gown on our website that I cherish.

Chiffon Green Howard Greer Dress

Happy Birthday Mr. Greer, you should know that your talent is still celebrated and that you are remembered.

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