AMC Cranks Up Fashion Machine

Those still trembling for a fix now that the Oscar fashion
orgy is over can maintain their habit with a new series on American Movie Classics
focusing on star-making glamour, Hollywood Fashion Machine.

However it's less Uma and Minnie and more Rita and
Bette and Joan. The series focuses on the people and trends that created Hollywood style.
The only consistent is a lounging, purring Darryl Hannah as the narrator.

I've seen the first two episodes, and the debut is the
most fascinating. The subject is costume guru Edith Head, a self-made woman, literally.

Current movie fans may only know her from her meticulously
cultivated image, but she truly fit into a town known for facades. She faked her way into
her first position as a costume-department sketch artist. She couldn't draw, so she
submitted the work of her fellow drawing-class students. The producers even found some
audiotape of the designer defending the strategy.

In today's multimedia age, that strategy would lead to
studio embarrassment, but back then, Head was able to keep the job because the department
head saw her as no threat to his authority. That proved to be wrong.

The segment is more about Head and her image than about how
she designed or where she got her inspirations, but it's still very interesting.

Segment two, "Starmakers," details the studio
contract system and how those businesses took mousy wanna-bes like Norma Jean and turned
them into blonde bombshells like Marilyn Monroe. In this segment, you learn the image
secrets of the stars, like how they redid Rita Hayworth's hairline to make her look
less Hispanic.

The producers try to make the interviews a little different
by initially starting the audio while a shot of the setup for the interview is still on
the screen. It's a little disconcerting to see a talking head with the lips not

The series doesn't necessarily provide new
information, but it is certainly well-packaged.

Hollywood Fashion Machine will run as a weekly series
on AMC beginning April 26 at 7:30 p.m.