Video Post: The Twilight Zone The After Hours (1960)

Still shot from The After Hours, 1960

The Museum of London’s upcoming conference The Body in the Museum, has set me thinking even more than usual about mannequins. For fashion curators, the sort of mannequin, bust, form, or hanger that “stands in” for the body is of utmost importance.  And while we can debate endlessly over the seriousness of this aspect of our work, it is undeniable that mannequins are at turns either humorous or terribly creepy.  Think of mannequins and dark or quiet spaces together, and it is a formula for terror. And what of the possibility of mannequins coming alive?

Well, that is the premise of two of my favourite videos of all time. This first, the 1987 film Mannequin, featuring a young Kim Cattrall as an Egyptian princess sent to the 1980s to live as a store dummy, and find love, is pure comedy.

On the other hand, the 1960 Twilight Zone Episode, The After Hours, is 25 minutes of the pure uncanny, and has the requisite plot twist to make you even more intrigued.

The After Hours was written by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling and directed by Douglas Heyes. It aired in the firs season of the program’s run, and is a fantastic portrait of fashions of 1960. The story takes place in a department store, and both leading ladies, Anne Francis (Marsha) and Elizabeth Allen (Saleswoman), are dressed smartly and stylishly in daywear of the period. Take special note of the lovely pleated back of the saleswoman’s jacket!

No costume designer is credited for the series or episode, leaving me to presume that a wardrobe assistant or dressmaker worked with art directors George Davis and Merill Pye, to dress the actors – and their mannequin “doubles.”

The After Hours is not the only episode of the original Twilight Zone series to showcase fashions of its day – but it’s the only one that inspires me to wonder if I, like Marsha, might actually “belong” to the world of the deaprtment store at night (cue Twilight Zone theme music…)

 

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