Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra in 'Cleopatra' Designed by Travis Banton

Description

Two piece black and silver lamé Egyptian gown consisting of wrap bodice attached to a silver and black flying scarab with neck chain and a floor-length skirt with train ornamented at waist band and center back seam with embroidery of black, silver and blue beading. Bias label which reads [AU2]; silver metal and black flying scarab ornamentation that clips to center waistband; collection of prop silver metal bracelets.

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Additional Notes

Claudette Colbert was not new to working with DeMille in historical epics having just filmed “The Sign of The Cross” 1932. She was known for her incredible body and had very specific ideas of how the sexually-suggestive costumes should look as she played the manipulative, wily seductress. She insisted that her bosom be exposed as much as possible and that little or nothing was between the costume and her body. Colbert rejected the costumes that DeMille’s staff had created for her, so Travis Banton stepped in. The battles continued and costumes were being produced from day to day to satisfy the star. But, the final results were beautiful and the film went on to become one of Paramount’s highest grossing film of the year.

Travis Banton was already the chief of wardrobe at Paramount and knew how to handle difficult stars, but this one was to become one of his most difficult challenges. His designs for the film were a testament to the Deco period- all the rage at the time- and had little to do with actual Egyptian clothing. But, the look became the standard for how the costumes of Egypt would be depicted for many years. The Hays code, which restricted how much of the body could be exposed, had just taken effect, so Banton was able to get away using more risqué images than he would be able to in later productions

This costume is worn in the scene when the character of Cleopatra is unrolled from the rug. It is little more than pieces of fabric stretched over her breasts and when she falls out of the rug, she is obviously about to fall out of the costume. There is a quick cut, and she is again appropriately covered.

Collection

Citation

“Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra in 'Cleopatra' Designed by Travis Banton,” Film Costume Collection, accessed June 18, 2024, https://filmcostumecollection.omeka.net/items/show/1230.

Item Relations

Item: Images of Claudette Colbert in 'Cleopatra' Still images from film This Item