Rancho Notorious & Rhinestone Cowgirls

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Custom design, stage costumes



Stage costume design for the DUO PLU (Shandy Lee & Fräulein Oh) from Barcelona. Together with Las Bastarda Lola & Caroline these lovely ladies are part of the Cabaret de Mujercitas and perform regularly in different venues in and around Barcelona.

Duo Plu – Shandy Lee & Fräulein Oh

The design is inspired by a western outfit that Marlene Dietrich wore in an advertising campaign for the Fritz Lang Movie RANCHO NOTORIOUS (1952) where she is starring as Altar Keane, the matron of a criminal hideout near the Mexican border called Chuck-a-Luck.

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Marlene Dietrich

Actually Dietrich did not wear this outfit in the movie. Instead she is dressed in casual shirts and high-waisted blue jeans that nowadays probably would be labeled as mom jeans (that also applies to her male co-star Arthur Kennedy).

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From a 1950ies dress

Of course Marlene Dietrich’s wardrobe in this movie does not not simply consist of cotton shirts and well pressed denims! After all it was the multi-talented Don Loper who created a whole range of vaudeville costumes and stunning gowns for her character Altar Keane, the former saloon singer and then leader of a gang.

Back to Duo Plu: I was planning to make something in a country-western-disco style but with an elegant feminine vintage twist, so I was pretty happy when I came across this promotional shoot of Marlene Dietrich during my research for this project and I decided to do a kind of remake of this outfit in black an red faux suede fabric.

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The bolero jacket and the A-line skirt are fully lined, the faced waistband is interfaced with a crisp fusible woven interfacing to preserve its shape. The fringes on the jacket and the skirt hem are handmade. As the faux suede turned out to be quite soft and did not hang very well, I cut them from narrow bands of real high-quality soft suede (which was as expensive as the rest of the material of the whole costumes, excluding the Swarovskies…).

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Suede fringes, faced waistband, bust darts, closure

„Have an Idea. Let it sparkle. Put a rhinestone on it“ (Nudie Cohn)

Speaking of Swarovski: to catch a little bit of the fire that the legendary Country and Western tailor Nudie Cohn lit in the country music world I replaced the rivets with a bunch of rhinestones (Swarovski elements, Xillion rose, AB, flat back, no hot fix). This was most expensive part of this project, but ABSOLUTELY worth its money.

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