Stage costumes present problems completely different from those of costumes for film. They are meant only for the human eye. The fact that you face the audience directly is a considerable advantage, and at the same time, a considerable risk. Distance is the first problem. Only a few fortunate people sit in the first rows, which are already quite far from the actors. Consequently, clear and distinct accents must be placed. Accessories like rings and ear-rings are simply not visible, and on this point all efforts to recreate historical fidelity are useless. Historical costumes are less problematic than modern ones, which should not strictly reflect current fashion, since style in clothes quickly becomes passe.

At all my performances I wore costumes that were works of art. Since I didn't have to hide behind an imaginary person, Jean Louis and I were able to devise dream-like creations without, at the same time, being subject to the usual stage restrictions.

Jean Louis' creations metamorphosed me into a perfect, ethereal being, the most seductive there was. I have preserved some of his costumes - each more magnificent than the other.

It's true that Jean Louis and I (with Elizabeth Courtney, a woman with very talented fingers) had endless discussions over where a diamond, a miniscule mirror or a glass pearl should be placed. Elizabeth would mark the spot with a tiny red thread.


I had to stand perfectly still - sometimes as long as ten hours at a time - since most of the work was done while I was wearing the dress. Naturally, the zippers were also made in Paris. All my clothes have zippers. Don't believe the stories which say that I was sewn into my clothes every evening. That's nonsense, since the dress would have torn instantly. Anybody who knows anything about dressmaking knows that, and wouldn't believe such gossip

The fabric from which my gowns were made was called 'souffle'. Biancini manufactured it especially for us, and there is no such product today. The fabric had the delicacy its name suggested. It was exactly the stuff for our purpose: I was dressed, yet I looked naked.

All my stage clothes were made of flesh-coloured material and easy to light, since that eliminated interference from other colours. I have always preferred neutral colours to pure colours, and the experts with whom I worked always agreed that I was right.

We loved our work and were proud of the results. Many people have tried to imitate our work, but their attempts, as is so often true, fall far short of the original.

Loosely quoted from: MY LIFE by Marlene Dietrich (1989)