What a 1971 MGB, Tory Burch’s fall line and Hitchcock’s Vertigo have in common


It started with a conversation between my husband and my kids about a car he once owned… an MGB convertible that brought him from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, years ago. Sadly, the story also involves me selling said mythic vehicle when we moved in together.

While the kids were looking at me like I was the evil queen, my hubby found an image of the car on his iPad.

I remembered the MG as red, strangely. Once I saw it was a gorgeous, “dark BRG-British Racing Green,” I felt kinda lousy about having given it away for a paltry sum.

But that was only the first green surprise of the week.

Next thing I knew, I came across Tory Burch’s Mad for Malachite Board on Pinterest and learned that this luscious deep green is THE color for fall. (Did you know that??! Did we need to know this??!)

Pinterest is nice because while Tory is exploring her sense of color by citing artists like Cy Twombly (that’s his painting) she’s slyly selling us this beautiful purse… which I pin, instead of purchase.

 But the best surprise of all came from Alfred Hitchcock, whose birthday we celebrate this week. Just this year, Vertigo knocked Citizen Kane off the top of an important film mag’s Top Ten list  (Sight and Sound magazine voted Citizen Kane #1 since 1952). I hadn’t seen Vertigo for ages, so settled into the couch for a pleasant evening with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. The film makes use of San Francisco’s most gorgeous locations, so how much of a chore could this be?

By the third scene, I was leaning forward with great interest. Fabled costume designer Edith Head was using GREEN as if it were a character in the film. Not apple green, or chartreuse, or anything minty or innocent.

Novak’s lustrous, bold emerald silk dress is the first thing Stewart sees before he meets her; the blonde bombshell drives a regal, ermine green 1957 Jaguar Mk. VIII, Stewart wears a forest green cashmere sweater when he fishes her out of San Francisco Bay, and when the lovers are reunited in the second half of the story (no spoilers, here), Novak appears in a tight pistachio sweater. Finally, she is photographed against a garish green neon window, in a contrasting purple dress.

I wouldn’t dare say whether this is the best film of all time – in fact there are plenty of Hitchcock films I’d place above this one on my list. It’s topic is a deadly sexual obsession, and Hitch’s normal psychological exploration is a bit more laborious in this film than others. But, the reason Hitchcock’s films are so easy to watch today is he wraps taboo subjects (sex, death) in brightly colored stories with handsome Hollywood stars. The tension between the subtext and text is so fierce that we wind up with gorgeous, but twisted, tales that are impossible to turn away from.

Vertigo is no exception. I mean… just look at her!

I found several blogs devoted to the symbolism behind the costumes and colors in Vertigo. This one is my favorite; the author states that, for Hitchcock, green symbolized death.

Don’t mention that to Tory Burch!