Mount Mary University Digital Collections


Irene (Lentz) Gibbons (1901-1962), known professionally as Irene.
A native of Brookings, South Dakota, Irene moved to California as a teenager hoping to become an actress. She appeared in several silent movies before opening a dress shop in Los Angeles during the mid-1920s. By the early 1930s Irene had become one of Hollywood's most sought-after costume designers. As her reputation grew, her clientele came to include some of Hollywood’s most famous actresses such as Marlene Dietrich, Vivien Leigh, Greer Garson, and Joan Crawford. In 1942 Irene became the head costume designer at MGM where she created iconic costumes for, among others, Lana Turner and Judy Garland. Irene left MGM in 1949 to open her own fashion house producing couture and ready-to-wear clothing. Irene was nominated for the Academy Award for Costume Design in 1949 and 1961.
Irene was known for a highly-tailored yet feminine daytime ensembles featuring plaids and stripes with an asymmetrical trim. Her suits were constructed to feature the waist and often combined custom buttons of various shapes and sizes. Irene’s evening wear included lace, beads, and even bows. Irene was known for using various tailoring techniques to streamline the waist and the bust.
Irene passed away in 1962, but her company continued to thrive under the direction of other designers.
To learn more about Irene, check out the book Irene, a Designer from the Golden Age of Hollywood: The MGM Years 1942-1949 at Haggerty Library.