Marlene Dietrich Still Influencing Runways & Red Carpets

21 Feb

{Marlene Dietrich Still Influencing Runways & Red Carpets}
Many new designs were seen across the runways during New York’s Fashion Week Fall 2011, and now as “fashion month” continues for the rest of the world, it is likely that what happened in New York will occur in Milan, Paris and London: The past is influencing today’s designs.

To me, the vintage trendsetter of 2011 seems to be Marlene Dietrich. Although many didn’t directly equate Rihanna’s most-talked about appearance on the Grammy Award’s red carpet to the late German-American actress and singer, it was Dietrich who first introduced the see-through dress to the entertainment industry.

Dietrich in Jean-Paul's "see-through" dress.

The layered white and see-through dress worn by Rihanna was designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. And much like today’s hype that Rihanna is generating over her latest style statement, in the early 1950s, Dietrich made a splash in a nude-colored souffle chiffon encrusted with clear crystals.

Dietrich’s dress, shown in the sketch above, was designed by Jean-Louis and was worn during her cabaret appearances, singing “Lili Marlene” and “See What the Boys in the Backroom Will Have.”

The combination of the sheer fabric and its nude tone, plus her sultry voice, created entrancing performances where audience members reportedly would throw flowers and jewelry at her feet.

But don’t take my word, here it is from the French designer Jean-Louis himself in a February 9, 1987 interview with People Magazine:

“More difficult and almost as famous was dress with special undergarment I design for Marlene Dietrich to wear in her 1953 Las Vegas act. Now Marlene was in her late 40s, but when she walk on the stage there is a riot. Marlene was living in New York, and she fly to Hollywood every weekend to fit.

Dietrich, again, in the Jean-Paul "see-through" dress.

“Put this bead lower,” she say. “Put this bead higher.” So we mark it with a tiny pin. Next week she say, “Oh, it’s too high, drop it a bit.” And so on, for six months. I say, “We’re not going to have any dress, we’re going to have a hole.”

It was her first appearance in Vegas and she wanted it to be perfect. But when we are finished, ah! Her body look like she is 16 years old. Dress was made of soufflé, a thin chiffon you can see through.

The undergarment—the secret to the dress—was of the same material, and it was designed to reveal the bust and with darts, to push the bust up. There was a zip down her back and a band between her legs. skin-tight. The neck-band was so snug that her skin folded over, so she covered the fold with a diamond necklace.

After she open in Las Vegas the press say in big headlines: MARLENE DIETRICH IN A SEE-THROUGH DRESS. They did not know there was anything underneath because you can see her breasts and her legs. Oh, she knew what she was doing!”

Ah, yes — nothing can top the ever-glamourous Dietrich, the queen of vamp — and that’s something Rihanna can put a ring on.

But, Dietrich is something that the legendary French shoe brand Roger Vivier is hoping to take to the bank with its Limited Edition fall collection.

According to the brand’s artistic director, Bruno Frisoni in a recent interview with The Telegraph, the collection was inspired by the concept of  “Marlene Dietrich-meets-punk.”

Indeed, the fall collection which includes shoes and bags — only 20 numbered pieces per style — is a perfect tribute to the classic sophistication of Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s mixed with the edgyness of what she was known for — pushing the limits and breaking the rules, otherwise known in today’s language as being a “punk” or “rock star.”

I have no doubt Dietrich would approve of this collection, albeit priced between £1,500 and £6,000. And, in closing tribute to the past influencing today’s fashion statements, here is a fun little video of what the fashion industry in the 1930s thought the future would hold for us:

What do you think of today’s celebrities taking cue from “vintage” legends? Are they doing it better than the original trendsetter, or not?

Post your opinion on the Thrifty Vintage Chic Facebook fan page.

All images on Thrifty Vintage Chic are shot in the context of real life. All images on Thrifty Vintage Chic are free from post-production “airbrushing” or touch-ups. All images and written copy on Thrifty Vintage Chic are copyright protected and may not be used without first gaining written permission.

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