Gilda Rides Again; or, How To Create a Fake Jean Louis Original

Gilda by Adaptation 1

Hold it, guys; I promise you, I’m not Gilda.  I don’t live in a film noir classic, I don’t live in Buenos Aires, and my husband isn’t trying to corner the world tungsten market.  And I don’t go around obsessively singing “Put the Blame on Mame.”

Gilda by Adaptation 2

But I do love the famous black evening gown Rita Hayworth wore in that club scene in the movie.  Created for the film by Jean Louis, and taken out of the context of the film, it’s really just a black strapless sheath with a high side slit, done up at the waist with a large draped satin bow, and accessorized with extra-long opera-length evening gloves and minimal jewelry.  A pair of nice heels, and you have a perfectly acceptable evening ensemble, especially by modern standards.

Jean Louis

Here’s where Jean Louis, Hayworth’s designer through nine films, pulled off a masterwork of design and fitting.  The bodice of the gown was essentially attached to Hayworth’s body by a “harness” that cupped her strategically, making the dress practically a part of her.  It also took a corset underneath, as Rita had given birth to a child not long before this scene was shot, but it worked.  In the “striptease” number, as Gilda swishes and spins around the stage, that gown moved with her; if she raised her arms above her breasts, it took advantage of Theiss’ Theory of Costume Tittilation — “Will she or won’t she fall out of that thing???”  Add in an effectively choreographed dance by Jack Cole, and Columbia got a number for the film that branded itself on the minds of audiences around the world, especially American GIs far from home and their sweethearts.

Gilda by Adaptation 3

There’s been at least two different versions of this gown available since 2007 in Second Life.  Both couture houses are gone now, though, and I wanted a version of the dress in mesh.  What to do?  Why, improvise, of course, until some designer gets the message and kicks out a fresh version!  So I hunted through the Marketplace until I found this strapless gown by Kastle Rock Couture.  It fits quite nicely, and the black satin works.  The problems:  no side slit and, more importantly, no bow at the waist.  I haven’t seen a gown with a side slit yet, so I chose Kastle Rock’s Sable, and did a little more searching, until I found an oversized hair bow from Pididdle.  I attached it to my hip on the left, swung it and adjusted it to lay just so, and voila!  A very acceptable substitute, n’est-ce pas?

Gilda by Adaptation 4

Gilda by Adaptation 5

Gilda by Adaptation 6

If you’re going to wear a gown to a fine supper club with jazz and romantic dance music, where else but Frank’s Place and its sister clubs?  This time I’m at the Elite Club, which has changed in several ways since the last time I had visited.  It now contains a full-service wedding chapel, and even a room reserved for the bachelor party, in one wing of the club; the other wing holds shopping, and a restaurant!  Check with a Frank’s Entertainment Group representative for details and pricing.  Also, if you wish to visit the main show room, you will need to be an Elite Group member, which will call for a one-time joining fee of L$500; but the quality of entertainment found at any of the Frank’s clubs is well worth the membership fee.  The service is also generally excellent; it was a mostly quiet night, but I was taken care of well by the night’s manager, Iceeee (also known as Icemint Haven).  (Don’t ask me what these people have with multiple “e”s at the end of their last names; it must be a Frank’s thing.)  You can see Iceeee in the background in white in the larger shots; I only wish that the light had been better over where she was, so I could get a photo of her as well, or that I had invited her into the shoot.

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The details:

Photographed at Frank’s Place Elite Club (membership may be required for entrance; one-time L$500 fee)

Full set of PNG photos available at Flickr

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