Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Put The Blame On Jean Louis

This painting was the inspiration...

Madame X - by John Singer Sargent

...for what eventually became this dress:

Rita Hayworth is Gilda

The magical alchemy that combined actress, costume choreography and music, resulted in what many people refer to as the 'strip number' in the movie "Gilda".  What came off while Hayworth sang "Put The Blame On Mame"?  Exactly, and only, one glove.  When the song is over, the other glove and a necklace get removed and that's it!

The real question is:  with her singing and dancing and undulating, often with her arms stretched out or over her head, how the hell did a satin strapless dress stay on?!?

Well, let it's designer tell you:

"It was the most famous dress I ever made," said Louis. "Everybody wonders how that dress can stay on her while she sings and dances . . . well, inside there was a harness like you put on a horse. We put grosgrain under the bust with darts and three stays, one in the center, two on the sides. Then we molded plastic softened over a gas flame and shaped around the top of the dress. No matter how she moved, the dress did not fall down." – Jean Louis on the Gilda dress

Jean Louis

There never was a girl like Gilda.


ayem8y said...

I’ve been working out like a maniac trying to shed a few pounds in preparation for bikini season. Interestingly enough I’ve resorted to similar measures and contraptions to make my fat pants stay up when you would think being the whore that I am that I would want them to fall off.

Go figure.

MJ said...

My bras are constructed of a complex series of pulleys and flying buttresses.

Davelandweb said...

Great post - and wow, what a great number, too! Proves the point—less is more!

Ask the Cool Cookie said...

Did you see this?


FelixInHollywood said...

That - is fabulous.

kabuki zero said...

Puleeze. If I was wearing the gorgeous little number I wouldn't take it off either. Such beauty, such divine grace. She only took the one glove off to scratch her nose. briefly, like a famous movie star would.

normadesmond said...

one of the best ever "first shots"of a star in a picture- when we first see rita and she throws back her head. wow.

FelixInHollywood said...

Balan Mundson: Are you descent?
Gilda: Who, me?

Alex said...

The design of this dress has contributed more to the legacy of GILDA and Rita Hayworth than anything else. I'm always sad when I see books or articles about "Little Black Dress" and they leave out this famous creation. Then again, this was not a dress, this was a gown, a masterpiece by a designer who was years ahead of his time. And Rita was the most beautiful woman of her time - so atomic things happen with that kind of chemistry. Great article!

ed said...

I remember seeing an old People magazine that reported on the opening of a Planet Hollywood opening. Bruce Willis & his then wife, Demi Moore were investors and Demi wore Rita Hayworth's Gilda dress to the grand opening, not a copy but the actual dress. It would be nice to see that dress in a museum.