Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Pettigrew, Delysia and Edythe in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Pettigrew, Delysia and Edythe in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

It’s not a mull-over type movie. Not the serious sort. Not the tear-jerker sort either. But Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day somehow successfully manages to charm with its light silky flowing peignoirs and costumes, fantabulous interiors and late 1930s pre-World War II glamour lifestyles. It manages to seduce us into the world of oysters at 8 am, the silky soft lingerie, “caress of fur against skin” and ever revolving door for gentleman callers.

Amy Adams as Delysia in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Amy Adams as Delysia in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Even the very few scenes of the less fortunate are romanticised. (Which starving soul walks ever so slowly towards an half-eaten apple lying on the dirty floor of a train station, only to reach it and see it being swept away by a cleaner? And then doesn’t fight for the apple. Especially one who’s only had 2 slices of cucumber for the day! I’d imagine a mad dash coupled with some fierce expletives towards the discarded fruit!)

But oh how I enjoyed watching it 2 nights ago after my family retired for the night (everyone else is asleep by 10.30pm!)! (Yes I only really get to watch movies months after they’re shown here because we rarely get the chance.) I was dying for some light romantic comedy with fantastic interiors and I was not let down.

Amy Adams played beautifully as flamboyant, attractive, seemingly-feather-headed Delysia Lafosse. I really enjoy the costumes for Amy Adams in this show and in Enchanted.

Amy Adams in Enchanted

Amy Adams in Enchanted

Her lithe figure allows for the most feminine of clothes. At uni we studied colour interpretations in movies, books and poetry. In Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, muted colours for Amy’s penthouse boudoir, along with her makeup and clothes adds to the persona of Delysia LaFosse… the real vibrant Sarah Grubb is muted, by necessity [remember the line, “But I must!”?]so she can become her dream, a real actress, away from her Pittsburgh Grubb-y roots.

Delysia in a muted pale colour silk peignoir

Delysia in a muted pale colour silk peignoir

It is only at the end, that we see Delysia a.k.a. Sarah Grubb stand up to the men in her life and go for the man in her heart. Then she dons on a gown with a strong colour, a lovely gold.

Delysia dancing with an old gold gown, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Delysia dancing with an old gold gown, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

In the last scene we see Amy Adams in this movie, Delysia appears in very strong colours, ruby red lips (as opposed to the pale rose throughout) and camel traveling suit with black stripes.

Delysia in a carriage with stronger coloured clothes, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Delysia in a carriage with stronger coloured clothes, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Whereas Guinevere Pettigrew, played by a first-class actress Frances McDormand, wears not only dark, but severely cut clothes – as a governess-turned-street-bummer as well as an elegant lady. Remember her drab brown mackintosh coat and the drabber governess dress?

Contrast of colours and fabrics in both Pettigrew and Delysia, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

Contrast of colours and fabrics in both Pettigrew and Delysia, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

This is in stark contrast to Delysia… and her moral sense is as starkly in contrast. Guinevere is severe, rigid and vicar-daughter-ish. Michael O’Connor, the costume designer mentions that Pettigrew’s governess dress was deliberately the styles of governesses a decade before. No doubt to keep the idea of the strict matronly governess look about phenomenal actress Frances McDormand.

Frances Dormand as Miss Pettigrew in a beautiful velvet dark blue gown, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Frances Dormand as Miss Pettigrew in a beautiful velvet dark blue gown, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Even after the makeover, Pettigrew is still in strong, solid colours with small touches of femininity, beauty and softness. I loved the back of the dark blue velvet gown, did you catch it? Low low slit down the back in high contrast to the decent white frilled vee collar!

I even enjoyed the absolutely cultured, high society wannabe, kittish tone of the upmarket womenswear salon maven, Edythe Dubarry (Shirley Henderson).

Edithe Dubarry, by Shirley Henderson, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Edithe Dubarry, by Shirley Henderson, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

But let’s talk interiors!

Art deco is typified by symmetry and boy… does this movie deliver!

Setting, London, 1939. Some of the scenes included Ealing Studios, London… the oldest film studio site. Kudos of the highest to Sarah Greenwood, set designer.

We start of course, at the sumptious, starkly quiet lobby of the building we find LaFosse’s penthouse in.

Foyer of the art deco building, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Foyer of the art deco building, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

The honey tones contrasted with the black marble.. and the signature art deco colours and style. I love the art deco archetype sunburst motif. Very reminiscence of the lobby of the famed art deco historic GE Building at 570 Lexington Avenue, NYC. Complete with lacquer and inlaid wood, polished marble walls and ornate nickel silver sconces.

The beautiful lobby at GE Building, via <a href="http://newyorkdailyphoto.blogspot.com/2006/08/art-deco-lobby.html">New York Daily</a>.

The beautiful lobby at GE Building, via New York Daily.

Beautiful art deco sconces, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Beautiful art deco sconces, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

I love the darkly masculine foyer of the penthouse the owner of the salon Nick stashes his precious Ms Lafosse. It’s like the “dark den of iniquity” [words of Miss Pettigrew] where all these gentlemen callers enter. The walls are dark marble paneled contrasted and highlight richly ornate art nouveau gilt mirrors and scones.

Art deco living room, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Art deco living room, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

I also love the round ebonized table right in front of the foyer with its very unique legs. Not too keen on the typical art deco gilt statue of angels. Then what about the marble staircase with its fine wrought iron banister?

Art deco fireplace and fur rug, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

Art deco fireplace and fur rug, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

The lounge area is still clearly masculine with dark black accents here and there. I love the strong Art Deco Grecian key motif on the black marble fireplace. Sets a real formal tone in the area which is softened by the French-inspired gold fabric settee and slipper chair and white shaggy rug.

Frances Dormand in Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

Frances Dormand in Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

On the mantlepiece is a typical art deco French clock with ubiquitous panther. (Interestingly, above that is another clock flanked by two crystal wall scones.)

Crystal wall scones that litter the place in almost every position! Like in the dressing table area:

Ornate boudoir dressing area, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

Ornate boudoir dressing area, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

For me, what luxurious penthouse is not complete without a black grand piano? The black makes the gold metallic wallpaper stand out and the wallpaper even more luxurious, even more select.

It’s only when we trot upstairs do we see a clearly feminine room that is clearly the entertainment boudoir of Delysia. de Gournay‘s hand painted Chinoserie on silver metallic lovingly covers the boudoir. (And more wall scones.)

De Gournay wallpaper in Delysia's bedroom, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

De Gournay wallpaper in Delysia’s bedroom, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

I love the quiet intimate white marble fireplace with mirrored surrounds (we never see it lit) and the small art deco clock on its mantlepiece with three silver panthers. I love the floor to ceiling divider between the bathroom and bedroom with its satin silver blue padded and diamond buttons. The bedhead is done in the same fabric… so that divider looks like one enormous bedhead.

Enormous bedhead in Delysia's bedroom, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

Enormous bedhead in Delysia’s bedroom, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

And of course, pairs of crystal wall sconces on EVERY wall. I love the mirrored bedside tables and the dressing table mirrors in the dressing area flanked by two mirrored panels in the wall. I think the idea of large mirrors on the wall leaving the bedroom was/is a great idea to do a last minute check before leaving all dolled up for a glitzy night out. Loads of boudoir bling!

Delysia's bedroom, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

Delysia’s bedroom, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

Also let’s not forget the oh-so-enchanting bathroom scene! Amy Adam looks positively captivating in this scene with her hair up in that pink ribbon.

Amy Adams as Delysia in her art deco bathtub, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Amy Adams as Delysia in her art deco bathtub, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

I love the simple white marble bathtub and tiling with the delicate pressed/depression glass bottles. How dreamy! And check out the koi bathtub hardware so typical of art deco gloriousness! With the open shell motif of the wall, Delysia LaFosse appears like a mermaid from a sea of froth.

Enchanting bathroom, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

Enchanting bathroom, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

There is another mirrored side table identical to the bedside tables in the bathroom holding a compote of pink powder puffs and some perfume/beauty creams. The bathroom was white white… but I love the punctuation of colour in the two red Victorian lampshades flanking the sink.

Speaking of lamps… have you been seeing those lamps in the pictures above? So rich, so mood-casting, so alluring… (not my style, but totally adds to the authenticity of the scenes. I love the ones in the pale bathroom!

Dormand and Adams under a grand piano, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

Dormand and Adams under a grand piano, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

I love the expensive ooh-la-la Swarovski Glitterbox Lantern that lights up the space underneath the grand piano in Nick’s salon between the two main characters-understated luxury, typical of the 1930s!

All in all, a well done period movie, in one of my favourite eras. Love love love Amy Adams and Frances McDormand in it. Love love love the opulent set design.

Other blog articles on Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

MirrorMirror
Hygge House
Shelteriffic
Coco & Kelley
La Femme Reel

Some stills taken while I watched the movie, some stills taken from All Movie Photo.

11 March 2009

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11 Comments

  1. Reply

    David Thompson

    8 March 2009

    I too enjoyed Miss Pettigrew because I was playing spot the deco location and the storyline certainly wasn’t too taxing on the brain.I recognised some of the locations such as the Freemason’s headquarters in London. An amazing buildng I managed to visit during an Open House weekend several years ago. I’m not sure if the foyer is that building or not.The black fireplace is from the dining room at Eltham Palace, now open to the public by English Heritage. If they didn’t film in the actual house, then the set is based on it.Thanks for posting this, I really enjoyed looking through the film stills.

  2. Reply

    drey

    11 March 2009

    David: thanks for commenting :) i enjoyed reading your short spot the deco location, only a Londoner would be privy to what you know about the film. i absolutely loved the movie deco… i’m finding art deco a real inspiration lately!

  3. Reply

    drey

    11 March 2009

    which scenes were shot in the Freemason’s HQ?

  4. Reply

    pinkstilettos

    27 March 2009

    I’ve never seen this movie but it looks amazing. I am going to have to check it out. Daisy~

  5. Reply

    drey

    28 March 2009

    ya have to. if not, for the great interiors :) thanks for all your comemnts ;)

  6. Reply

    daisy

    28 August 2009

    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a romantic and comedy movie .Pettigrew is very take care of their dresses what she wears.she is very sensitive . I Download Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day movie last friday.

  7. Reply

    Carron

    16 January 2010

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Reply

    Carron

    16 January 2010

    Hi, I would like a second opinion, but I think the club scene was filmed in the Rivoli Ballroom in SE London.Also, the stairs and lifts for the apartment scenes may be those of the Salvation Army William Booth Training College in Camberwell SE London. The scenes I refer to are of Nick when he walks up the stairs, while Delysia is in the lift.I will look out pics if you are interested. I LOVED this movie.

  9. Reply

    kholoud

    28 July 2011

    I just can't thank you enough for your very detailed description.. this is my favourite movie :) One day I want a room just like that! xx

  10. Reply

    drey

    29 July 2011

    thanks kholoud that's a lovely comment :) yeah her apartment was sumptious elegance and the roaring 1920s is one of my favourite periods!

  11. Reply

    Anonymous

    8 August 2013

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone knows where the first scene was shot, where she is leaving her previous employer? Ive seen that location in other films, but cant place it. Thanks!

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The Woman behind the Blog

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