I had planned a totally different book posting for today that was until I got a special package delivery on Saturday. It was a book that I had ordered months ago having been intrigued by the subject and prospect of a great adventure (I subscribe to many book blogs and sites, to be discussed in future postings, and read about upcoming publications and if they strike my fancy I put them on my “want list”!) . Well, I wasn’t disappointed, in fact, it is even more than I could possibly imagine!
This magnificent book by Andrew Ginger with forward by Cecil Beaton’s biographer, Hugo Vickers, is a must for anyone interested in art, interiors, gardens, photography and on and on just an in-depth, fascinating telling of a unique lifestyle lived by a true creator. I can’t touch on everything I want to discuss in one article it would take me weeks to cover everything I like about this book and that is just by glancing at its captivating materials…everything from never before published photos, to sketches, and interiors that we have heard about but not seen before to all his intriguing friends. It is not a small book in size and nor in its content. Did I mention the photography…glorious! It tells of a genius, his extraordinary talent, his insecurities, and his many accomplishments. Cecil Beaton lived a life we can only imagine. As is usual with someone as talented, his life was filled with glamour but had its dark sides as well. This book tells it all. Always striving for perfection, and in my and many other opinions achieving it, he strove for more.
I have been an avid admirer since I first saw his costumes for the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady on my first trip to New York in 1957. Seeing the original cast, Rex Harrison, and Julie Andrews, et al and hearing that wonderful Lerner and Loewe score for the first time at my very first Broadway show on Broadway you can’t get any better than that!
Nena’s very worn LP cover
From Nena’s My Fair Lady program
I have gone to the theater since birth, well almost, and when I was young we either had pre-Broadway shows open here or we had the original casts performing (Yul Brenner in The King and I, Ethel Merman in Gypsy, you get the idea). This original production was magical, to say the least, not the least of which were the exquisite costumes. It was love at first sight for the whole package. A love that carried me to one of my two top movies of all time, My Fair Lady, where Cecil Beaton not only did the costuming but all the set decorations, setting the mood for a total immersion in the period of the Shaw play…amazing. The Ascot Scene alone is worth the price of a movie ticket, no, own it and replay it often there is so much to absorb.
I guess that lead me to want to know more about this creator and I began collecting his many books, either written by him or about him and yes, there is a shelf devoted to Cecil Beaton in my library…just a work in progress. There are many more to be added. Up to now, my favorite is his Glass of Fashion (the dusty pink dust jacket at the top of the pile), now, of course, it is Cecil Beaton At Home…. Get it, read it, study it, you won’t be sorry!