Gilda, 1946

“Pardon me, but your husband is showing.”

Me? .... Sure, I'm decent.

I love, love, love this movie. I now have a major girl-crush on Rita Hayworth, and we just might binge on her movies here for the next little while. Did you know that Gilda is the movie showing in Shawshank Redemption when Dufresne requests his Rita Hayworth poster?  I can see why Morgan Freeman didn’t want to be distracted.

I think that’s good business- to surround yourself with ugly women and beautiful men.

So, the movie takes place in Argentina, where Hayworth’s (Gilda) new husband runs a casino. She was a dancer in the States, and previously had a relationship with her husband’s casino partner (Johnny). It’s clear the romance isn’t over between them, and trouble follows them as her husband gets caught up in bad casino-type illegality (no spoilers, I really want everyone to watch this movie and love it). As you watch, try not to only pay attention to Hayworth- the background is full of women at the casino wearing spectacular gowns, but I just couldn’t pause on decent enough screenshots to get good stills.  Also pay attention to the interior design- the furniture, accessories- even the doors are inspiring.

The cocktail dress God wants all of us to have.

When I first watched this, I missed the shot showing the bottom half of the dress, and I thought it was knee-length until it was briefly shown later. I loved it short, and I love it more long. I am guessing that the main body of the dress is silver, and the contrasting trim is gold in real life. The V-neck, dolman/ kimono sleeves, open back, and binding above the knee all make this dress really amazing; one minor detail that’s hard to catch is that there is a very thin thread or chain at her neckline holding the top of the V precisely in place.

Rita did the halter way before Marilyn.

The best part of the dress is the draping at the hemline. A panel from the front waistline wraps between the legs and up to the back waistline. I will have to watch this scene over and over again to figure out the construction, but the way the draping plays peek-a-boo with her legs is incredibly sexy. And as much as I love this dress, I think I love her accessories more. The belt and bracelet are blowing my mind. I want them, and I want to wear them every day.

Gilda goes acoustic.

When Gilda realizes that she’s not driving Johnny quite crazy enough, she takes up concerts at dawn playing her favorite song, “Put the Blame on Mame”. I’ve been singing this song constantly since I first watched the movie. What’s important about this dress? The material is very simple- I would guess just cotton, and the draping looks simple, but I think the construction is actually probably quite complicated. The shoulders have a lot of body to them, the cap sleeves have exquisite pleating that is channeled to the center of the skirt just below the belt. If I thought my mind was blown with the previous belt and bracelet, you should have seen my face when there was a good close-up of this pair. I’m embarrassed to say that I frankly didn’t know this kind of stuff even existed in the 40s. I don’t know who I have to bribe or kill to get a reproduction, but I think I require this set to ensure future happiness.

A montage of sartorial joy.

At some point in the movie, Gilda gets fed up with juggling her various men and sets out on her own. The first outfit here is actually her “lounging around the condo in a silk pantsuits” look. We never really see the back, but the front has a fairly standard cross/wrap halter bodice, and the pants hit her just about the true waist. The second look was really hard to get a good shot of- it’s a full length evening gown with  simple gathered sweetheart neckline and flared skirt. The back had a big bow/knot in the same fabric. Number 3 just about gave me a heart attack. We see it only very briefly, and never the full length, but this, frankly is more than enough. While it looks like there is nothing behind the sequin applique over her left breast, it is, in fact, lined with a nude-colored fabric. The applique wraps around to below her left breast. I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues at least partially onto her back as well. And last, but not least, is a choli top that she wears for a dancing gig. There is a matching skirt, but I thought it would be best to show the detail on the top- there is a stylized papyrus flower pattern in sequins. The skirt is straight and simple with a front/side slit up to there.

Put the blame on Mame, boy.

This is the number that became the hallmark of Rita’s career. In modern times, this is Lindsay Lohan’s dancing on the bar, Charlie Sheen before an intervention, and Anne Heche probably every day of her life. The dress is ridiculous in the best possible way- a very, very fitted top with cone-type bodice structure and a simple wrap skirt that hits just below the bust. The big floppy side bow just begs you to untie the dress, but alas, there is a side zipper (which Gilda invites multiple men from the audience to help her undo).
I really can’t say enough just how much I loved watching this movie. It is available for your Netflix Instant Queue, if that’s an option for you. If you’re at all interested in 40s fashion or design, or Rita, it’s a must see.

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