1939’s The Women bestowed a wealth of gloriously iconic dialogue and imagery on the world. Rosalind Russell’s “Seeing Eye” Blouse designed by Adrian, Rosalind and Phyllis Povah landing heads-first into a passing department store cart and my personal favorite: “Jungle red!”
But there is one disconcerting aspect of the film I could never find an explanation for…until now. The poodle-like hairstyles. Every woman in the production (except the blissfully spared Paulette Goddard) sports an unbecoming mass of tightly woven curls on her head. If any of the ladies had long hair at the time, it’s well disguised and contained with the most permanent of waves ever to grace a screen.
Well, it seems at least one of the ladies has a practical reason for her poodle curls, according to the gossip column of Silver Screen’s August 1939 issue:
Joan had every right to be “horrified” if you ask me. Even the masterful snips and curls of Sidney Guilaroff couldn’t transform her botched perm into an acceptable hairstyle. I can’t help wondering if the rest of the ladies’ hair was styled to match Joan’s just so her chopped locks would not stand out. And then I started wondering why Paulette Goddard sported soft shoulder length tresses while the others went for the chop? My only explanation is that it really paid to be married to Charlie Chaplin!
The same column leaked a tidbit about Adrian’s shocking fashions, too. If those clothes in the fashion show sequence are still fascinating and slightly odd to this day, imagine what movie-goers thought of them at the time. No wonder Silver Screen attempted to prepare everyone: