Active - 1925 - 1952  |   Born - Mar 3, 1903   |   Died - Sep 13, 1959   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Comedy, Musical

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

Trained at the Parsons School of Fine Arts, costume designer Gilbert M. Adrian -- usually billed simply as Adrian -- was discovered by, of all people, songwriter Irving Berlin. After attending a showing of Adrian's creations in Paris, Berlin hired the 18-year-old couturier to do the costumes for the 1921 Broadway presentation The Music Box Revue. After working on two subsequent editions of the Revue, Adrian was invited to Hollywood by Natacha Rambova, the art-director wife of screen star Rudolph Valentino. He designed the wardrobe for Valentino's The Eagle (1925), then joined Cecil B. De Mille's production company. In 1928, Adrian signed on at MGM, where, as chief costume designer, he helped define "the look" for Garbo, Norma Shearer, Jean Harlow, and Joan Crawford. It was Crawford who graciously noted that her reputation as a fashion trendsetter was the by-product of Adrian's genius. In 1941, Adrian left MGM after an argument concerning the studio's intention to "deglamorize" Garbo in Two-Faced Woman (1941). He moved to New York to set up his own independent fashion house which over the next 15 years serviced several Hollywood studios. In 1945, he won the New York Fashion Critics' prestigious Winnie Award. Retiring to his ranch in Brazil with his actress-wife Janet Gaynor in 1953, Adrian returned to the states in 1959 to design the costumes for the upcoming Broadway musical Camelot. During the preliminary stages of this project, Adrian died suddenly at the age of 54; his death was later ruled a suicide.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography