Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is it a Kilgour suit?

North By Northwest is my 4th favorite Alfred Hitchcock film right after (in order): Vertigo, The Birds and Psycho. Why I like the first three more is because no matter how many times I've seen them (dozens each), they manage to surprise me with an image I'd never noticed, a strange edit, a sting of music not previously picked up. North By Northwest, on the other hand, is too predictable and I find Eva Marie Saint to be one of the coldest of Hitchcock's notorious blondes. She's not as indelible as Kim Novak (Vertigo) or as opulent as Tippi Hedren (The Birds); she plays too forced and arctic. 

What I do like about North By Northwest is its eye-popping palette dominated by tones of grey punctuated by endless variations of red (and Eva Marie Saint's black and red dress is jaw dropping). But in the realm of grey, check out how Cary Grant's suit literally emerges from the screen.

Though debatable, some sartorial camps claim the suit was designed by Kilgour, French and Stanbury, despite the fact that Grant typically had his suits tailored by Hawes & Curtis, Norton & Sons, Cordings, among others. This blog, however, states it wasn't a Kilgour suit at all and this forum says that is was built by Quintino, Grant's Beverly Hills tailor. We may never know...

Also endlessly debated is the suit's color, which has been erroneously designated as one-tone grey. More than likely (according to an article by Richard Torregrossa, who also says it was, indeed, a Kilgour), Grant's suit was a two-tone blue with a "charcoal background," which is what gives it such rich life on screen. Ultimately, the suit is of impeccable taste, masterfully constructed and timeless.

What's amazing about the suit is how seemingly indestructable it is. Grant wears it throughout most of the film including during the famous dusty cornfield crop duster scene. Grant stumbles and falls in dry dirt - and the suit is covered in it - but all he merely needs to do is brush himself off and the damn thing still looks great! And yes, there were multiple suits (possibly as many as six) used during the shooting of North By Northwest but the impression left is one of awe.

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