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Costume Design, Musical, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Virgo & Carvill, Watercolor Pair, 1962


Hilary Virgo and Rosemary Carvill
Pair of Costume Designs
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

London: c. 1962
Pen, ink, pencil and gouache on toned paper
Signed in pencil and titled
15.25 x 10.25 inches
$875, the pair

Costume designs for two female lead characters in the opening scene of the musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. They are for the 1962 London production that ran in the West End at the Princes Theatre for 223 performances. The flamboyant lead character Lorelei Lee, played in this production by the actress Dora Bryan (born 1923), wears a white coat that the artists’ notes on the sketch describe as velvet, quilted in places with diamante, and fox fur. Her blonde hair is in a fashionable bob accessorized with a glittery flapper’s headband and she wears sparkly bracelets and rings as she leans on a tall stack of luggage. The character of Lorelei’s friend Dorothy Shaw, as portrayed by actress Anne Hart, stands before a much smaller stack of suitcases, wearing a demure dress with a slim silhouette and contrasting cuffs and collar, accessorized by a tall hat topped with a large black ribbon. The drawing for Lorelei’s costume has an inscription specifying it is for Act I, Scene 1. In the upper right corner is the notation “G.I. Miss Dora Bryan.”

Product description continues below.


Hilary Virgo and Rosemary Carvill were costume designers for the London stage who collaborated on the revues Intimacy at 8.30 (1954), For Adults Only (1958) and the musicals Bells Are Ringing (1957), Belle, or, the Ballad of Doctor Crippen (1961), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1962).

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a musical set in the Roaring Twenties, adapted from a novel by Anita Loos, the book by Loos and Joseph Fields and the songs by Jule Styne and Leo Robin. The first production was mounted on Broadway in 1949 starring Carol Channing. A popular show, it has been revived several times, including the 1962 London production for which these costumes were designed. The show opens with Lorelei and Dorothy in New York about to board an ocean liner to France. The rest of the show takes place on the ship and in Paris.

Dora Bryan is a British actress with a career of over 50 years as an actress in film, television and on the stage in London and on Broadway. Major roles included London productions of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1962), Hello, Dolly! (1966-68) and Follies (1987); the Broadway production of Pygmalion (1987); the film A Taste of Honey (1961) for which she won a BAFTA award as Best Actress; and the British TV series Last of the Summer Wine and Absolutely Fabulous in the 2000s. Bryan won a Laurence Olivier Award for her 1996 performance in Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party and was honored as an OBE in recognition of her career achievements that same year.

Anne Hart is a British actress who acted on the stage and on television. In 1965 she married actor Ronnie Corbett; their daughters Emma and Sophie are also actresses.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Faint toning line along outer margin edge where formerly matted, can be rematted out. Tape residue outer margins verso, and abrasions from its partial removal, from former mounting, appears to be stable and not affecting the front.


“Belle, or, The Ballad of Doctor Crippen.” Broadway International Database. 2012. (22 March 2012).

“Bells Are Ringing (1957).” Jule Styne. (22 March 2012).

“For Adults Only.” The Guide to Musical Theatre. 2012. (22 March 2012).

“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (musical).” 21 January 2012. (22 March 2012).

“Intimacy at 8.30.” The Guide to Musical Theatre. (22 March 2012).

“London: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1962).” Jule Styne. (22 March 2012).

Additional information


20th Century