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Runway Glamour

The breathtaking designs of the late Helen Rose will be worn during a special fashion show as a fundraiser for the Palm Springs Historical Society.

Michelle Enriquez Attractions, Current Digital

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Helen Rose designed this outfit for Cyd Charisse in the 1957 film, Silk Stockings, with Fred Astaire.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MARGARET HERRICK LIBRARY, ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES, WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

History and fashion converge on the runway when the Palm Springs Historical Society hosts the designs of the late Oscar-winning costume designer Helen Rose in a special fashion show Feb. 25 at Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage. The showcase precedes a second presentation of Rose’s gowns in an old Hollywood–themed runway event at Fashion Week El Paseo, March 20

The inspiration for a staging of the costumes came to Renee Brown, director of education and associate curator of the historical society, after attending Fashion Week El Paseo in Palm Desert last year. “I started to think about how amazing the Helen Rose dresses would look on the runway,” she shares.

Brown met with Thunderbird Country Club general manager Scott Julien following a historical lecture at the club, and the idea flourished from there. This is one of the country club’s first events open to the public.

See related story on Helen Rose: She Made them Beautiful

“It all happened organically,” Brown says. “What a perfectly beautiful spot to bring people together to get a chance to see these dresses, with Thunderbird bringing in history of their own.”

Helen Rose retired in Palm Springs, and when she passed in 1985, her private collection of work was gifted to local modeling agent Marilyn Visel and Visel’s business partner, Barbara Marx (no relation to Mrs. Sinatra). In 2011, Marx donated the pieces to the historical society.

The collection includes many of the outfits that Rose created to propel the on-screen movie careers of Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Lana Turner. Among the pieces is the iconic white cocktail dress made for Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). During her career, Rose received 10 Academy Award nominations, winning twice in the Best Costume Design category for The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955).

• See related story: We profile four young Hollywood actresses who bring Helen Rose’s costumes to life.

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Helen Rose, who lived in Palm Springs for many years, designed clothes for several blockbuster Hollywood films.

More details about Rose’s career and designs is available in the January 2019 issue of Palm Springs Life.

Helen Rose fashion show and luncheon, 11:30 a.m., Feb. 25; Thunderbird Country Club, 70737 Country Club Drive, Rancho Mirage. For tickets, visit pshistoricalsociety.org. (The ticket price includes a one-year membership to the Palm Springs Historical Society.)

The Helen Rose collection at Fashion Week El Paseo, 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception and 8 p.m. fashion show, March 20; The Gardens on El Paseo, 73545 El Paseo, Palm Desert. For tickets, visit fashionweekelpaseo.com.