Tag Archives: Cyd Charisse

The Little Red Dress

Forget the little black dress, this festive season its little red sister is a sexy and stylish alternative to that old party staple. Here’s a selection of inspirational red dresses from the movies, including the one I’ve spent 20 years coveting – the crimson halterneck number in which The Fabulous Baker Boys’ Suzie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) so memorably makes whoopee one New Year’s Eve:

Suzy Diamond’s look throughout the super-sexy Fabulous Baker Boys film is very now – from her camel coat to her black beret, via her red lipstick. Actually, watching it recently, I realised that I’ve been subconsciously channelling her look every winter for as long as I can remember.. But for a classic red Christmas party dress, we should hark right back to 1944, and Meet Me in St Louis.

Judy Garland never looked more beautiful than in this movie, and in this scene she’s especially gorgeous – thanks to the killer combination of red hair, scarlet lips and scarlet dress. (She’s probably wearing her ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz under the long skirt.) Admittedly, hers is hardly the sexiest of red dresses, however. For that we need look no further than the sparkling tomato-red number that Cyd Charisse wore in her most celebrated movie dance routine – in The Bandwagon (1953).

Little red dresses seem to have seen a lot of movie action in the early 1950s – and in 1953 they were particularly popular: in addition to Cyd’s Band Wagon version that year, both Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell showed off their equally shapely, er, shapes in glittery red dresses in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Here they are poured into their slinky gowns… I’d say that the inspiration here is less the style of the dresses – wear that today and you’ll either look like Liz Hurley or a drag queen – but the attitude of the wearers!

Heavens, even the normally demure Grace Kelly got in on the racy red act. In Dial M for Murder (1954), the least memorable – both in terms of suspense and of style – of her Hitchcock movies, one dress stands out. Yup, you’ve guessed it: it was red. Red lace, in fact. Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of coloured lace (black, white and flesh tones are best), but this is the exception:

And, no Style on Film would be complete without Audrey Hepburn who knocks ’em dead when she descends the steps of the Louvre in this show-stopping tomato red Givenchy dress in the sublime musical Funny Face (1957). As with all the other ladies featured here, she’s wearing matching red shoes – take note: black shoes and a red dress just will not do …

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