Orry Kelly was six years old the Christmas his mother told him there’s no such thing as Santa Claus. Eyeing a department store window she endeavoured to entice him with a set of carpenters tools. Upon a hand painted card in the middle of the window, were printed the words: “A Lady’s Companion”. Underneath were two plush boxes- one red, one green- containing many spools of coloured silks. ‘if there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, I’ll have the red lady’s companion.” announced little Olly Kelly and so the needle of his life was threaded.
Orry Kelly was born the last day of 1897, named for a Danish king and brought up in the hamlet of Kiama. The sign over his father’s shop read; William Kelly, merchant tailor. As well a cutter of cloth, Dad was a keen horticulturist, a hybridiser of carnations, a shocker in shocking pink, which he named for his son.
Director Gillian Armstrong claims that she had never heard of Orry-Kelly when Damien Parer pitched a documentary proposal at her.
It is hard to believe that any Australian cinefile would not have knowledge, at least of the existence of the man who designed the costumes for Casablanca, Some Like It Hot and hundreds of other Hollywood movies, but taken as truth, at least the completed film, WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED will introduce this brilliant Australian export to a wider audience.