At Last! The Artist Who Inspired Judy Garland's 1st Costume in The Pirate (1948)

The search is over! The artist whose painting inspired Judy Garland's first costume in The Pirate (1948) -red plaid tam-o-shanter, yellow print dress with puffed sleeves, crucifix and black apron- is Charles Philipon.

Vintage Fashion Guild posted the painting of a milliner wearing that exact outfit as an example of hats in the 19th century. It is undoubtedly the forebear of Ms. Garland's distinct dress. However, the signature on the painting is so illegible that for years the name of this artist eluded me. It wasn't until Ikranieri at the VFG forum identified the portrait this year that the search finally ended.
Charles Philipon

Charles Philipon is famous for having co-founded and illustrated a satiric magazine -La Caricature- in Paris, which ran from 1830 to 1835. The Pirate's storyline is set, not in the same place but in a similar time frame:  "a small village in the West Indies early in the 19th century," according to the movie's predecessor, S. N. Behrman's play of the same name. The painting of the milliner is apparently part of a series that Philipon completed at his leisure - "Occupations d'une femme" (1827-1830).

Over one hundred years later, Tom Keogh, costume designer for The Pirate, would be known for many artistic creations of his own, including illustrating another French magazine- Vogue Paris.

Keogh dresses Ms. Garland's character, Manuela, as Philipon's milliner. Perhaps he is inferring that she has seen the painting somehow, despite never having left her small town, and has sewn a copy of the dress. She's that infatuated with any place but home.

Or perhaps it's not that literal. Manuela has Paris on the brain; the gaiety and wonder of the French capital is a symbol of escape from "this little saucer in the hills." Maybe Keogh is simply giving this character a taste of what she wants without her knowing it. The designer is simply underscoring the idea that while other young ladies wear a more regional headdress and skirts (highlighting their contentment at home), Manuela's dress represents a distant land that's on her mind.


  1. Well done! I'm *very* impressed with your research skills!

  2. Really brilliant! There was a dress of the period on display at last years LACMA clothing exhibit, done in yellow. It was very similar to the art rendering and to Garland's. I owned Judy's orange velvet dress from THE PIRATE for years. Madam Karinsky, famous for ballet and theatre built them and the costumes were built like battleships and as we can see here, unlike many of the "historic" films of the day which worked in modern 1940s elements, these costumes were as authentic as possible!

  3. Mick,
    Thanks. :)

    Mr. Turnbull,

    Thank you. The question bothered me quite a bit; I had solve the mystery.


    I will forever kick myself for not visiting the LACMA last year and the Debbie Reynolds' collection at the Paley Arts center [which including a few costumes from The Pirate].

    You owned a Judy Garland costume? Do expound! How? Where? When?

    Thank you for the story about Madam Karinsky. I'll need to study her more.

    Thanks to everyone for contributing to Java's Journey.

    - Java


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"Java's Journey: A really fun, informative well-written blog that explores all of the things - and I mean all - I love about classic films."-- Flick Chick of A Person In The Dark Email:


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