On the anniversary of his birthday on October 7th, 1895, Joseff of Hollywood would like to honor René Hubert, his art, and the special relationship he had with Joseff.
We at Joseff of Hollywood has a very special place in our hearts for costume designer René Hubert. Although Joseff’s collaborations with Walter Plunkett are well documented, he was such close friends with Joseff that he named his born only son after him (middle name): Jeffrey René Joseff.
Jeffrey, in turn, named his only child the same: Jeffrey René Joseff Jr., now our current Vice President and sole grandson of the Joseffs.
Swiss-born René Eugène Hubert studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in St. Gallen and at the Beaux Arts in Paris and subsequently worked for the noted fashion designer Jean Patou. He did some costume design for theatrical revues in Berlin and France (including for the Folies Bergère at the Casino de Paris), where his work attracted the attention of star actress Gloria Swanson.
Swanson managed to persuade Hubert to join her in Hollywood as personal designer for her entire personal and professional wardrobe and he ended up signed to a two-year contract at Paramount in 1924 (inevitably specialising in Gloria's pictures, beginning with Madame Sans-Gêne (1925). See Hubert with Swanson, and Swanson in a Hubert creation for Indiscreet, 1931 on the right.
After his contract expired, Hubert made the rounds of other studios: MGM (1927-1931); under the auspices of Charles Le Maire at 20th Century Fox (1931-1935); at Alexander Korda's London Films (1935-1938), where he designed the futuristic costumes for Things to Come (1936); then back at Fox (1943-1950).
It was sometime during the period between MGM and 20th Century Fox that Hubert and Joseff made their acquaintance, probably by association through Walter Plunkett and Adrian, both of whom Joseff collaborated with extensively. The earliest confirmed overlap on a film was 1931’s Indiscreet, starring Gloria Swanson, Ben Ryan and Monroe Owsley.
Hubert excelled at period costume and was engaged on many A-grade historical dramas, including Fire Over England (1937), That Hamilton Woman (1941), Jane Eyre (1943), Dragonwyck (1946), Forever Amber (1947) and Anastasia (1956). It was on these types of period dramas that they did their best work together; Joseff not only provided jewelry for the elaborate costumes, but also buttons and ornaments sewn into the costumes themselves.
Images above, in order…Top left: Vivien Leigh and Lawrence Olivier in Fire Over England, Top right and middle images: Anne Revere, Linda Darnell and George Sanders in Forever Amber. Bottom left and right: Vivien Leigh in That Hamilton Woman.
Joseff made more custom pieces for That Hamilton Woman than the others, specifically creating the “N” jewelry symbolizing Emma Hemilton’s relationship with Lord Nelson. For this film, Hubert also picked another stunning piece of jewelry that was custom made by Joseff for the film Camille, starring Greta Garbo, that was not used for that film after all. A few of those pieces are shown here below:
Hubert remained in contact with Joan Castle Joseff after Eugene’s untimely death in 1948, still using the Joseff studio in his movie works.
René Hubert died in June 1976 at the age of eighty, leaving behind a rich legacy of distinctive watercolour and pencil sketches of his designs.