Thursday, November 10, 2011
Rita, Rita, Rita (1946)
Have I told you, lately, how much I love Rita Hayworth?
This issue boasts one of my favorite covers-- wartime Miss H sipping a malted, wearing what appears to be a dirndl, hair perfectly permanented, lips pursed just so... what is not to pine after in this picture? Isn't she just within spitting distance of perfection?
This article, from the week of January 18, 1943, follows the burgeoning Columbia starlet through a studio-mandated day of modeling and photographer's set-hopping in preparation for her role in Cover Girl (my favorite iteration of the popular title, though this is my second favorite). Six years into her onscreen career, and still three away from the iconic title role in Gilda, Rita's introduced in the first lines of the accompanying copy as being an inch wider in the hips than most real photographer's models. I googled her stats just to check: 36.5-C-24-36. I think the idea in drawing attention to her dimensions is more to get people to scrutinize that pretty-near-flawless property than an attempt to denigrate self-same. So let's.
Look. At. The BATWING. BOWS. On those slingbacks. LORD, LORD. Call the fashion ambulance, my heart can't take these palpitations of egregious envy. I kept looking at the photos in this spread as a "Where's Waldo" for these knock out pumps.
Here, Rita sits in with other models from the Conover Agency, each "chosen by a national magazine to play its cover girl in The Cover Girl." (if you've seen the musical, there's a scene in which each girl appears lifesize on a magazine cover next to her own walking, real-life counterpart... if you haven't, isn't the internet grand?) I'm particularly attached to the model name "Helen Outlaw". Sounds so Thunder Road to me for some reason. How ordinary the girls look out from under the lights and angles that conjure up print ad alchemy! Makes you feel like an average Jill like you or me could fit right in! Just don't make me sit next to Rita. ((pause)) Nah, I'm kidding, set me next to Rita. I'll glow by proxy!
Though this looks a lot like a un-shirted Frank Capra is manhandling Rita Hayworth for no good reason, the caption is helpful in explaining Not-Actually-Frank-Capra's intent: "A model gets very hot posing in a fur coat so she strips to the waist as far as she decently can." Phew! I thought we were going to have to defend Rita's virtue, there.
I remember season one or two of America's Next Top Model, back when I was looney tunes about America's Next Top Model (ne jugez pas, it's one of the best reality competition shows! [whether or not that's an oxymoron is not up for debate at the moment]), one challenge involved modeling catalog clothes. The lovely, stork legged girls suited up for the photo shoot, and realized none of the clothes were anywhere near the double-goose-egg sizes they were accustomed to wearing. Paulina Porzikova, 80's supermodel and Ric Ocasek spouse (top marks in both, ma'am!), explained that often, catalog clothes provided for shoots aren't made in the teeny tiny sizes a model would need to strike that ocelet-sleek silhouette, so ya gotta improvise. In the photo, baby Rita demonstrates this very modeling principle with a pinned dress to pull in to her tiny figure.
Here, Rita demonstrates how a 40's model would pose for 1940's Harper's Bazaar-- one bare shoulder and swaddled in a satin and diamond affair that would set a gal in those days back $145. I wonder how much $145 is in today's money? "What cost $145 in 1943 would cost $1807.68 in 2010" aaaand....thank you, Inflation Calculator. I hope 2010 is accurate enough for our purposes here.
Below, Rita poses for a pulp magazine, while not-Capra models her probably-dead-magazine-husband's legs and reads a (possibly also pulp) magazine. His torso will eventually be cropped from the photo, the caption assures us. "Models have to be tied up, or gagged, or thrown into closets, or dressed to look as if they have been or are about to be outraged," it continues. She does look the picture of an outraged female, does she not?
At long last, Rita ends her day as a model at the famous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where some of her clotheshorsing cohorts do stretching exercises to keep their figures svelte for the workaday week. "Oh boy, am I worn out!" intones Rita sweetly, as she declines to take part in the activities. Look at the sweet expression on her face! And the continued presence of the shoes still makes me weep tears of small-feet-envy. Do you see how most of the girls still have heels on, in spite of being in mid-exercise? I guess in the days of Ginger Rogers tap-dancing in pumps, anything's possible.
Jonesin' for the Hayworth look? I scouted a little on the internet for a fantasy get-up, and here, when paired with some amazing hat I have yet to find, are the results:
Shoes here, Coat here, pattern poached here. Let's go imitate, girls!! It IS the sincerest form of flattery.
PS: Did you know the black Jean Louis dress Hayworth wears in Gilda has its own Wikipedia page? You do now!