Classic film journalist Raj Tawney interviewed-
Raj Tawney just turned 30 years-old but has the soul of generations preceding him. At Cinema Arts Centre in Long Island, NY, he has the privilege of welcoming Hollywood legends and screening classic films to audiences, young and old. Raj also works as a multi-media producer/journalist exploring the history of movies and the individuals involved. Raj also has a passion for dressing in the fashion of the time periods he admires. Raj is an old soul whose love of classic film reminds me a little of Ed Chigliac played by Darren Burrows in Northern Exposure. If you’re a fan of that iconic TV series, then you’ll know what I mean.
Where does your interest in vintage clothing come from?
My love and appreciation for vintage clothing stems from the influence of classic movies throughout my life which is a direct correlation to the older folks who raised me. My grandparents grew up in New York City in the Depression and became adults in the 50s. For them, clothing was a reflection of respect, professionalism, and confidence. And of course, they were influenced by the movie stars of their time. Movies were not only escapism but sometimes an idealistic portrait of how men and women should appear. When they saved up enough money to visit The Copacabana, my grandfather rented a tuxedo and my grandmother bought a new dress. For inner city kids, affording one evening at The Copa was equivalent of a Hollywood, red-carpet premiere. So, I put effort into my appearance out of admiration for that era of everyday glamour. It’s also become a way for me to connect with Senior Citizens when I host live film screenings. I want to look the part of the movies I present. My attire may be conversation starter or an avenue to open dialogue among generations.
Do you find it difficult to find Men’s vintage clothing?
There are definitely more options when searching for Women’s vintage clothing. It seems as though women took better care of their wardrobe than men. However, when you find piece like a Sports coat, which wasn’t worn everyday, they tend to survive longer and in better condition. I recently found a Christian Dior plaid coat from the ’60s in excellent condition. It must have been owned by a man who only wore it on special occasions. I’ve also had good luck with vintage ties, tie clips, cuff-links, and other accessories.
Whom are your favorite costume designers?
Hubert de Givenchy, Edith Head, Adrian, and Helen Rose. They understood how to compliment the physiques of actors and actresses while satisfying the aesthetics needed for productions – especially in big, splashy Technicolor pictures. While most male actors were fitted in typical grey/blue/black suits with a bit of spit-shine, their juxtaposition alongside actresses would accentuate the bright, flowing gowns and smart, tasteful dresses – scene by scene. A great example is 1955’s The Tender Trap. Helen Rose, who designed at MGM, made careful selections for Celeste Holm and Debbie Reynolds’ opposing characteristics as they played opposite Frank Sinatra who always wore suits with striking confidence and an accompanying Cavanagh hat.
That’s all !
Watch Raj Tawney’s intro to Leave her to Heaven 1945