Apples and giraffes

Sandy Schreier on costume designers Theadora Van Runkle, Julie Weiss and Marlene Stewart

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Fashion historian and collector Sandy Schreier on Theadora Van Runkle, Julie Weiss and Marlene Stewart: “I know all the Hollywood designers, they're very good friends of mine.”
Fashion historian and collector Sandy Schreier on Theadora Van Runkle, Julie Weiss and Marlene Stewart: “I know all the Hollywood designers, they're very good friends of mine.” Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

At the press preview for The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibition In Pursuit of Fashion The Sandy Schreier Collection, fashion historian and film enthusiast Sandy Schreier told me that she worked with George Clooney’s father Nick Clooney doing Sunday nights on the AMC (American Movie Classics) channel and wrote Lauren Bacall's scripts for her appearances on the show.

Portrait of Sandy Schreier by Theadora Van Runkle
Portrait of Sandy Schreier by Theadora Van Runkle Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Oscar nominated costume designers Theadora Van Runkle (Arthur Penn’s Bonnie And Clyde, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II and Peggy Sue Got Married), Julie Weiss (Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, Julie Taymor’s Frida) and Oscar winner Ann Roth for Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient (and three nominations - Robert Benton’s Places In The Heart, Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, Stephen Daldry’s The Hours) are a part of her world.

We started out with why Sandy Schreier wanted film production designers Shane Valentino and Nathan Crowley of LAMB Design Studio to be involved with creating the exhibition design for her outstanding collection on view, that includes the work of Gilbert Adrian, the Twiggy minidress by Roberto Rojas, Karl Lagerfeld, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Gabrielle Chanel, Ana de Pombo for Paquin Ltd, Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo and Maria Monaci Gallenga.

Anne-Katrin Titze: It feels like walking into a movie, seeing your collection. It is beautiful.

Sandy Schreier: How much better can I get than Nathan and Shane doing the set design! You know, I asked for them on purpose because of my love of Hollywood. I knew they [Nathan Crowley] did China: Through the Looking Glass, but this is far different from China: Through the Looking Glass. They wanted it to be white to make all the costumes really pop.

Sandy Schreier with The Metropolitan Museum of Art Director Max Hollein
Sandy Schreier with The Metropolitan Museum of Art Director Max Hollein Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers wouldn't seem out of place here, Katharine Hepburn could ride right through, Rosalind Russell is behind that column over there. Carol Lombard and Miriam Hopkins might want to try on some clothes. Your books on Hollywood costumes, are they out of print?

SS: You can get them on Amazon.

AKT: What was your focus?

SS: In the books on Hollywood costumes what was the focus? Well, I started appearing on TV on One O'Clock Movie. And then I appeared on that three times a week that went to 48 cities throughout the West.

And then I started appearing on AMC on Sunday nights with Nick Clooney, George's father. And then I wrote all of Lauren Bacall's scripts and some of the other movie stars'.

I had to write their background scripts for them to appear on AMC. And then Rizzoli came to me and asked if I would like to write a book about Hollywood costumes. And then Random House came and that's why.

Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood For Love at China: Through the Looking Glass
Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood For Love at China: Through the Looking Glass Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: Do you have favourite costume designers?

SS: Oh, yeah, I've got a lot of them. But there's quite a difference, as Edith Head said to me. And I kept saying to her "Why don't you do clothes? You could be as popular as Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren or Donna Karan."

And she said "You don't understand. Clothes are for real women to wear. Costumes are for characters in a screenplay. And it's not like apples and oranges, Sandy. It's like apples and giraffes."

AKT: That's beautiful. I recently talked to the great costume designer Ann Roth

SS: She was supposed to be at a party I was at last night. And she was out, I guess, couldn't make it. And I was very disappointed because all of Broadway's biggest designers were there.

And I know all the Hollywood designers, they're very good friends of mine. The ones that passed away they were my dear friends, the present ones are good friends of mine - Marlene Stewart, Julie Weiss, they're all good friends. You noticed Theadora Van Runkle did a picture of me that's over there?

In Pursuit of Fashion The Sandy Schreier Collection
In Pursuit of Fashion The Sandy Schreier Collection Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: I did.

SS: She did Bonnie And Clyde and The Godfather [Part II]. And she gave that to my husband for his birthday one year.

Read what Jessica Regan had to say on Gilbert Adrian, Judy Garland, The Wizard Of Oz, working with Shane Valentino and Nathan Crowley on the Costume Institute’s In Pursuit of Fashion The Sandy Schreier Collection.

Read what Nathan Crowley had to say on production design for The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibitions and Christopher Nolan’s latest, Tenet.

Read what Shane Valentino had to say on In Pursuit of Fashion, Cecil Beaton, Cedric Gibbons, Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, and Aaron Sorkin's The Trial Of The Chicago 7.

Shane Valentino and Nathan Crowley, along with The Met’s Design Department created the look for In Pursuit of Fashion The Sandy Schreier Collection, that was organized by Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, Curator Jessica Regan and Assistant Curator Mellissa Huber.

The Costume Institute In Pursuit of Fashion exhibition The Sandy Schreier Collection runs through May 17, 2020.

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