Muriel King and Gone With the Wind

King’s proposed design for Scarlett’s ‘curtain dress’

Keren Ben-Horin’s recent post on one of our favorite blogs, ON PINS AND NEEDLES, has inspired us to speak about a little more about the American couturière Muriel King and her work in Hollywood. King established a successful couture house in New York City during the early 1930s—at the height of the Great Depression.  Her clients included some of the best-dressed American socialites including several women of the Morgan and Whitney families.  In the wake of the acclaim she received for her couture designs, Hollywood came calling, and King relocated briefly to California. She designed costumes for several films including Sylvia Scarlett (1935), Stage Door (1937), and Cover Girl (1944), which starred —respectively— Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and Rita Hayworth.

A little known fact about King’s work in film, however, is that she was under consideration to design the costumes for the 1939 mega-blockbuster, Gone With the Wind.  Ultimately, the job went to Walter Plunkett —Hollywood’s go-to for historic costume dramas —despite the fact that author Margaret Mitchell lobbied hard for King.

The Muriel King sketch collection (x3) held by SPARC contains some beautiful examples of King’s original sketches for the designs she proposed for Gone with the Wind.

LEFT: Plunkett’s design as seen in the film.  RIGHT: The actual costume worn by Vivien Leigh in the film, which was exhibited recently by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.