Jean Louis (born Jean Louis Berthault, October 5, 1907, Paris, France – April 20, 1997, Palm Springs, California, USA) was a French-born, Hollywood costume designer and an Academy Award winner for Costume Design. Before coming to Hollywood he worked in New York for fashion entrepreneur Hattie Carnegie, where the clientele included Joan Cohn, the wife of Columbia Pictures studio chief Harry Cohn. Louis worked as head designer for Columbia Pictures from 1944 to 1960. His most famous works include Rita Hayworth's black satin strapless dress from Gilda (1946), Marlene Dietrich's celebrated beaded souffle stagewear for her cabaret world tours, as well as the sheer, sparkling gown Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy in 1962. The dress was so tight that he actually had to sew it while she was wearing it. The idea of dresses being a nude color with crystals coating it, stunned audiences. It gave people the illusion that the wearer was nude, except for discretely placed rhinestones covering them head to toe.
Jean Louis had originally designed a version of the dress for Marlene Dietrich, who wore it in her concert shows, and Marilyn was very impressed, and asked Dietrich about it. She told Marilyn how the dress's illusion worked, and sent her to Jean Louis’s to design a dress similar to Dietrich's for her Kennedy appearance. While Dietrich had been seen wearing her version b4 Marilyn, the press coverage surrounding Marilyn's appearance at Madison Square Garden in her style of gown swept the globe.
In 1993, four years after the death of his second wife, Louis married former client Loretta Young; they remained married until his death in 1997. He had designed Young's wardrobe for her TV program The Loretta Young Show (1953–61), an anthology show noted for Young's show-opening and closing scenes that had viewers tuning in especially to view her high-fashion outfit for that week. Young was known as the best-dressed actress in America at that time.
Mr. Louis designed the beautiful dresses for Loretta Young in her television show, “The Loretta Young Show”. He later married Miss Young and her major fan base would tune into the show just to see the new extravagant dresses she would show off at the entrance of every show. He switched from designing for private clients to becoming head designer for Columbia Pictures and then later Universal studios.
For over forty years, Jean Louis designed clothes for almost every star in Hollywood. Around sixty of his designs appeared in movies, and he was eventually nominated for 13 Academy Awards. Some of his clients included, Lana Turner, Vivien Leigh, Joan Crawford, Julie Andrews, Katharine Hepburn, and Judy Garland. Some of his film credits included, “A Star is Born”, “Ship of Fools”, “From Here to Eternity”, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, and he won an Oscar for his designs in “The Solid Gold Cadillac” in 1956.
In 1937, a year after Jean moved to the United States, he designed a suit that became an icon in the fashion world. The Carnegie suit was one of the first fashions to become very well-liked as an American name design. The fitted blazer and long pencil skirt was worn by several actresses and society women at the time. The Duchess of Windsor became one of his most reputable clients as well as the First Lady Nancy Reagan in the 1980s. He was known for his simple but elegant designs that had few irrelevant details. He liked to design dresses that were very form fitting, sleek, and with beading designs to make the simple cut of the dresses stand out.
Academy Award nominations
- 1950 – Film: Born Yesterday
- 1952 – Film: Affair in Trinidad
- 1953 – Film: From Here to Eternity
- 1954 – Film: It Should Happen To You
- 1954 – Film: A Star Is Born
- 1955 – Film: Queen Bee
- 1956 – Film: The Solid Gold Cadillac; Won
- 1957 – Film: Pal Joey
- 1958 – Film: Bell, Book and Candle
- 1961 – Film: Judgment at Nuremberg
- 1961 – Film: Back Street
- 1965 – Film: Ship of Fools
- 1966 – Film: Gambit
- 1967 – Film: Thoroughly Modern Millie
Actresses designed for
- Rita Hayworth in Tonight and Every Night, 1945, Gilda, 1946, Down To Earth, 1947, The Lady from Shanghai, 1948, The Loves of Carmen, 1948, Affair in Trinidad, 1952, Miss Sadie Thompson and Salome, 1953
- Irene Dunne in Together Again, 1944
- Claudette Colbert in Tomorrow is Forever 1946
- Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday, 1950 and The Solid Gold Cadillac, 1956
- Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat, 1953
- Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity, 1953
- Judy Garland in A Star is Born, 1954
- Joan Crawford in Queen Bee, 1955
- Betty Grable in Three for the Show, 1955
- Kim Novak in Picnic, 1955, and Bell, Book, and Candle, 1958
- Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth in Pal Joey, 1957
- Lana Turner in Imitation of Life, 1959
- Doris Day in Pillow Talk (1959),
The Thrill of It All" (1962), Send Me No Flowers (1964) and "Ballad of Josie" (1968)
- Loretta Young for The Loretta Young Show, Television series, 1953-1961
- Marlene Dietrich in The Monte Carlo Story, 1957, and Judgment at Nuremberg, 1961
- Susan Hayward in Back Street, 1961
- Marilyn Monroe in The Misfits, 1961, and Something's Got to Give (unfinished), 1962
- Shirley MacLaine in Gambit, 1966
- Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, and Carol Channing in Thoroughly Modern Millie, 1967
- Eva Gabor for Green Acres Television series, 1965-1967
- Foreman, Liza (February 22, 2013). "Glamour from a ‘Gilda’ age: How Jean Louis inspired film costumiers". ft.com. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- Nemy, Enid (October 4, 2013). "ean Louis, 89; Dressed Stars and Socialites". New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 1997.
- "D'NA". Retrieved October 4, 2013.
- Hollywood Costume Design/ David Chierchetti, author ISBN 0-517-52637-9
- In A Glamorous Fashion: The Fabulous Years Of Hollywood Costume Design/ W.Robert Lavine, author ISBN 0-684-16610-0