La Señora Muerte (1967), is a couture horror flick. It was one of several pictures prolific B-movie director Jaime Salvador made with Luis Enrique Vergara at his Filmica Vergara CineComisiones production banner in Mexico.
This film opens with Marlene’s lover dying after sexing her. While being stricken, he asks for the shady Dr. Farell, an evil mad scientist-like character played by this guy’s dad. Farell wickedly tells Marlene that he needs fresh blood to revive her – much older – lover. Of course, to make things even more interesting, the blood has to come from young, fashion-forward women.
The film, while cheesy as hell (check out the mad scientists computer), features some fancy houses in what could be Polanco, and a wardrobe by Mexico’s foremost designer of the 60’s and 70s, Pedro Loredo. It works for the film since Marlene, an eventual killer and the woman of the flick’s title, is a fashion designer.
Her costuming— I presume is also by Loredo, in the credits his billing goes: “Desfile de modas/ diseños de Pedro Loredo/ creador de la moda mexicana.”
To be sure, the film is knee deep in fashion; nothing unique about the men’s stuff though, just suits. The scene (41:26) with the gold lamet leggings (American Apparel for the late 60s?) is one of the outstanding costumes in the feature. Rich lady loungewear.
There’s a swimwear show (43:07-45:35), featuring mini poncho tops and fringe tunics. Lots of eveningwear (54:25), which was his award winning specialty.
Loredo was already somewhat infamous back home for his beaded organza tunics, which according to El Universal were groundbreaking at the time, and considered in some 60’s circles as “pornográfico”. Pre-hispanic motifs are part of this aesthetic. He keeps it 100% Mexican, while looking forward with some of those zarape tops.
“It’s Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne and Pierre Cardin influences— but futuristic,” according to Joel, a Mexico City vintage fashion expert who used to work with Sharon Stone back in L.A.
I had a chance to see Loredo at last year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Mexico Autumn/Winter fashion event. He shuffled (like my 84-year old abuelito in Florida does) out onto the catwalk after his show. Held up by two models and a standing ovation.
The designer, who never went to fashion school, is considered the first ambassador of Mexican fashion. But he didn’t exist in a vaccum. He represented 60s and 70s Mexican fashion along with Gene Matouk, Julio Chavez, Manuel Méndez (here, and here), and later designers, like Mitzy.
Many of D.F.’s greatest stars came from a rough back ground, Loredo is no exception. He explains it in this 1997 article:
“Nací en el D.F., en el barrio de La Merced. Me crié en Peralvillo, a dos cuadras de Tepito. Fue entonces cuando me inicié en las correrías taurinas, debutando como torero en la plaza de Aguascalientes.” (Via Reforma)
For me, the way the designer dressed the women is the star of the movie. But look for Isela Vega, who plays Marlene’s sex kitten assistant. She made it into U.S. cinema, in one of my favorite flicks, the Sam Peckinpah/Warren Oates classic “Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia”.
Loredo will show his Fall/Winter 2010 collection at next week’s Mercedes Benz Fashion event.
Thanks to Joel, proprietor of Vintage Hoe (and super sick fan of Loredo), for sharing his expertise and checking out the film.
Vintage Hoe is in Mexico City. Located at Cordova 108, corner of Alvaro Obregon, in Colonia Roma.