Orry-Kelly created magic on screen, from Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon to Some Like It Hot. He won three Oscars for costume design. He dressed all the biggest stars, from Bette Davis to Marilyn Monroe. Yet few know who Orry-Kelly really was - until now. Discovered in a pillowcase, Orry-Kelly's long-lost memoirs reveal a wildly talented and cheeky rascal who lived a big life, on and off the set. From his childhood in Kiama to revelling in Sydney's underworld nightlife as a naive young artist and chasing his dreams of acting in New York, his early life is a wild and exciting ride.
Sharing digs in New York with another aspiring actor, Cary Grant, and partying hard in between auditions, he ekes out a living painting murals for speakeasies before graduating to designing stage sets and costumes. When he finally arrives in Hollywood, it's clear his adventures have only just begun. Fearless, funny and outspoken, Orry-Kelly lived life to the full. In Women I've Undressed, he shares a wickedly delicious slice of it.
About the Author
Orry-Kelly was born Orry George Kelly in Kiama in 1897. His love of theatre and nightlife flourished when he moved to Sydney at seventeen. In 1922 the aspiring actor and artist moved to New York, where his work painting murals for nightclubs led to designing stage sets and costumes. He followed his dreams to Hollywood and became head of the costume department at Warner Bros. Orry-Kelly went on to create some of the most iconic looks in movie history, from Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon to Oklahoma! and Auntie Mame, in a career spanning thirty years and 295 films. He won Oscars for An American in Paris, Les Girls and Some Like It Hot.
If you love or even like Old Hollywood, if you hanker after parties where Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard, Hedy Lamarr and Jean Harlow chew the fat in Spanish costumes under camellia-strewn bowers, then Orry-Kelly's Women I've Undressed: the Fabulous Life and Times of a Legendary Hollywood Designer is a little bit of paradise. * Daily Telegraph *
There's something completely compelling about this very talented, very outlandish, gay Australian rascal's journey into Hollywood. -- Gillian Armstrong, the Oscar-nominated director of Women He's Undressed
A sumptuous coffee table fashion tome but the text reads like a racy Jackie Collins novel... Women I've Undressed is a frank and brutal account of Hollywood's golden era, of its stars and their foibles, their individual weaknesses and Achilles' heels, the details that only a personal tailor gets to see, but more importantly, this book brings recognition to one of the most talented costume designers of the era... He was Hollywood royalty, but despite those Oscars, he was not a household name. This book will likely change that.' * Irish Independent *
Delightful... Kelly was an extraordinary character... A camp romp through the Golden Age of Hollywood with some gloriously indiscreet asides, peppered with Kelly's exquisite sketches and photos of stars in his frocks. * Australian Women's Weekly *
He writes with deep affection... His book is beautifully designed and illustrated... Orry-Kelly's pen portraits bring the city and the period pungently to life. * The Australian *
Several books have already laid bare the fractious relationship between movie star and designer, but Orry-Kelly's account of life as a prominent Hollywood costume designer leaves most of them in the ha'penny place. Found in a pillowcase and kept under wraps by his family for half a century, it is an Aladdin's cave of memories and moments. * Sunday Business Post *
Those of us who assume Hollywood costume designers are as camp as Christmas - e.g. Cecil Beaton or Dame Edna's son Kenny - will need to have a rethink in the light of this tremendous book. * Daily Mail *
A work of art... He proves as elegant a writer as he was a fashion designer... Women I've Undressed is a must for fashion freaks and movie buffs alike. * Weekend West *