Howard Greer (1886-1974) was a Hollywood fashion designer and a costume designer in the Golden Age of American cinema, and credited by Vogue on having “a sixth sense about the fashion future “.


Deanna Durbin in Hoop Skirt Styled Lace Fabric Flowered Evening Dress Designed by Howard Greer
Deanna Durbin in Hoop Skirt Styled Lace Fabric Flowered Evening Dress Designed by Howard Greer.                Source: All Posters

Notable Career Highlights:

  • Began his fashion career at Lucile in 1916, working in both her New York and Chicago branches before serving in France in World War I.
  • After the war, he remained in Europe, working for Lucille, Paul Poiret, and Molyneux, and designing for the theatre.
  • He returned to America in 1921, and through his theatre work was hired as chief designer for Famous Players-Lasky studios.
  • He was the first major costume designer to take the leap of establishing his own couture house in 1927.
  • He designed primarily modern dress films with glamorous wardrobes for the star, no matter what her social standing. Though he did add society women and their daughters to his clientele as his workmanship became more well-known.
  • His Ready-To-Wear line created in 1947 was sold around the country and he was in the top-tier of American ready-to-wear designers.
  • He designed custom clothing for the stars until his retirement in 1962 (Source).

His Look:

  • Tended toward the expensive afternoon and evening clothes of the fitted torso type with eye-catching effects.
  • Did not follow the padded shoulder line of the 1940s, and liked to work with black combined with a range of pinks for contrast.
  • Specialized in cocktail and dinner dresses that he specifically designed to look good seated at a table with stunning necklines (Source).
Howard Greer 1940s Cocktail Dress
1940s Rayon Cocktail Dress Source: Flickr-Raina

Fantastic example of beautiful neckline design.

howard Greer 1940s dress
Source: The vintage minimalist

Couple more…

1940s Howard Greer Vintage Dress
Source: Pinterest
Howard Greer 1940s Cocktail Dress
Source: 1stdibs

Greer in the Movies:

Katharine Hepburn’s 1938 hit movie ‘Bringing up Baby‘ with Cary Grant featured Howard Greer Designs.

bringing-up-baby-Howard Greer

Another gown from ‘Bringing up Baby’.

bringing up baby Howard Greer

My Favorite Wife‘-1940 featuring Irene Dunne & Cary Grant.

My Favorite Wife Howard Greer Designs
Source: The Motion Pictures Blog

Irene Dunne in ‘Love Affair‘, 1939. Howard Greer, costume design.

Irene Dunne Love Affair Howard Greer

Designing outside of the movies:

Rita Hayworth in 1941 wearing a pink & silver lamé gown.

Rita Hayworth in 1941 wearing a pink & silver lamé gown

The Wedding Dress for Gloria Vanderbilt for her wedding to Pat DiCicco in 1941.

Source: Dressing vintage

And for something completely different. Greer created a dress called “The Travel Dress” (which I seriously need). Same dress 12 ways for travel. Seen in Look magazine Jan. 1, 1952.

Howard Greer Dress
Source: Coco’s Retro Closet
Howard Greer Dress Design
Source: Coco’s Retro Closet

Today, Howard Greers are very hard to find but I did find some currently on the web, if you have the money and are the right size. Happy shopping!

Buy Now: 1950s navy blue couture cocktail dress.

Howard Greer 1950s Cocktail Dress
Source: Etsy-MotherOfVintage
Howard Greer 1950s Cocktail Dress
Source: Etsy-MotherOfVintage

Fringed 1930s/1940s cocktail dress.

Howard Greer 1930s 1940s Cocktail Dress
Source: Etsy-EadoVintage

1940s, silk dress with lace detailing a chiffon top and balloon sleeves. STUNNING!

Howard Greer 1940s Silk Dress
Source: 1st Dibs

Lastly, looking for a read? Then make sure you pick up his Autobiography, ‘Designing Male’ (if you can find it).

Howard Greer Designing Male

Now friends,weren’t all those dresses just fantastic?! Sigh I sure would love to own them all. What were your favorites?

Liz 🙂