From their origin in the cabaret clubs and music halls of 18th-century Paris, the showgirl quickly became a cultural icon. Known by her skill for dance, fabulous looks and often provocative outfits, it is no surprise that the showgirl has been immortalized on stage and screen time and again.
What does every showgirl need before she can take to the stage? A little crystal magic. Since the early days of Hollywood and Marlene Dietrich’s dazzling turn in Blonde Venus, Swarovski has brought shimmer to the entertainment world’s most iconic showgirls, with incredible costumes worthy of their radiance and allure. Let the show begin.
WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS
Marking the debut of Swarovski crystal on the silver screen, Blonde Venus (1932) stars Marlene Dietrich as a theater actress who must return to the stage when her husband falls ill. The black-and-white film glimmers with Swarovski crystal which embellishes Marlene’s opulent costumes and jewelry during her dramatic stage revival.
BEAUTIFUL ON BROADWAY
The real-life showgirls of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr’s Broadway revues, which ran between 1907 and 1931, became the definitive showgirls of the era. Known for their dancing as well as their extravagant costumes and headdresses, Ziegfeld girls were the celebrities of their day. In the 1941 film Ziegfeld Girl (1941), screen sirens Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr and Judy Garland shine in the spotlight, but it is this vision of Hedy that has endured. Her elaborate headdress is ringed with silver stars embellished with Swarovski crystals.
Chicago (2002) follows the lives of two Jazz Age showgirls who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. For Roxie, played by Renee Zellweger, costume designer Colleen Atwood needed an outfit that would transform her from criminal to celebrity. This flapper-style silver minidress dripping in Swarovski crystals was the answer. Performing ‘Roxie [the Name on Everyone’s Lips]’, she shimmers in the dark, shining like a star as she fantasizes about her new-found fame.
A COURTESAN CAN
When making Moulin Rouge! (2001), Baz Luhrmann wanted to recreate the irrepressible excitement of the fin de siècle Moulin Rouge for a modern audience. This meant amping up the sparkle. When Nicole Kidman’s Satine dangles from a trapeze for a stirring performance of ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’, it is Swarovski crystals that dazzle from her black satin costume, bewitching the audience beneath her. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Costume Design in 2002.
THE AMERICAN GIRL
Set in a derelict Broadway theatre in 1971, Follies (2017) at London’s National Theatre captured a moment in time as a group of former showgirls gather to sing, dance and reminisce about their dazzling days. Costume designer Vicki Mortimer used more than 600,000 Swarovski crystals to reimagine the Ziegfeld girls in their heyday, encrusting bodysuits, feathered headdresses and tap-dancing shoes.