Marilyn Monroe, Niagara Falls.
Even though Marilyn Monroe’s character, Rose Loomis, in the 1953 film Niagara is the kind of woman who wears a full face of makeup in the shower - ruby red lips, cat eyes and all - the portrayal is one of Monroe’s most adaptable lessons in bombshell dressing. The ‘50s film noir follows a newlywed couple who encounter a troubled mentally plagued man and his sinfully seductive, two-timing wife.
Niagara was a different kind of role for Monroe. As the young starlet was just hitting mega stardom, before the decadent showgirl looks of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, costume designer Dorothy Jeakins dressed Monroe in surprisingly modern sexy pieces with classic ‘50s silhouettes. Monroe dons a fuchsia wiggle dress with a cutout beneath the breast and flirty bow embellishment, a statement dress that is just as relevant today in this bountiful online shopping era as it was jaw-dropping in the 1950s. With perfectly cropped and tailored statement coats, snug pencil skirts and nipped-in waists, Jeakin’s wardrobe choices, perhaps overtly sexy for the times, skew elegantly sexy for the modern age. Marilyn’s fur trimmed robe channels old Hollywood glamour; a perfect low cut neckline makes a blouse and skirt combo sexier than the most skin-baring ensemble.
And it’s not just that Monroe is the one donning the looks. As Jean Peter’s character Polly Cutler proclaims, “Listen, for a dress like that you have to start laying plans when you’re about thirteen.” While Monroe’s infamous assets lend a special something to the overall look body conscious dressing is the trademark of great style. An elegant tailored suit, perfectly placed cut out, or emphasizing your figure in that slinky skirt is a surefire way to make a statement and standout in a crowd.
Marilyn Monroe in the role of femme fatale packs a little more style than substance, however it’s worth watching for the charming ‘50s nostalgia and sartorial inspiration. Beyond the dark storyline in the familiar and relatable setting of Niagara Falls, this film is a testament to the power of a strong red lip and just a peek of artfully exposed skin.
Marilyn Monroe's Wardrobe Test for Niagara, 1952. (continued below)