Casino. This film holds a special place in my heart.
Once upon a time, Las Vegas was a brash fantasy – loud, garish, and infused with synthetic energies and materials. A plastic and mirrored flower stuck in the desert. Vegas wasn’t shy of its purpose – money – and it was best to wear your money, if you had it.
Ginger Rothstein, played by Sharon Stone, is the personification of the Vegas dream and past history – glamorous, greedy, elegant and audacious in one body. She’s even hollow and broken inside, much like the experiences and reputations the city lends out to its visitors and inhabitants.
A skin-tight, beaded gold gown sounds like the wrong decision to many women, but Ginger makes it right in Casino. I love this character’s ability to show the audience how loud Vegas clothing was once elegant, or at least attractive.
Scorsese’s women almost always enter the film wearing white (see Raging Bull and The Aviator). The color white has some obvious connotations – angelic, virginal, feminine. The purity of the color makes the person wearing it the focal point of the room. The cut and construction of this gutsy sequined go-go girl dress plays around with the virginal connotation – it takes a bold woman to pull off loud white in a large public crowd. But that’s the kind of girl Ginger is and always will be…
Hustler Ginger, the way Ace knew her before he wifed her.
In general, the costume design for Ginger has a gradient evolution. She appears in softer colors and materials earlier in the film, when she and Ace still get along and their life is just beginning. Her clothing is always on trend and 100% committed to the current fashion. As her selfish personality flares, and her desires clash with her husband’s, Ginger’s clothes get harsher and sometimes darker in color.
Her dress here is flowy and silky, and that boa looks sexy and cuddly. The blues and greens compliment her fair coloring. I like how the whole outfit is kind of “snakey” – maybe it’s a nod to the fact that Ginger hustles men for money?
I love how the black sequin is anchored by a modest halter neckline and lighter-colored floral designs at the hem of the skirt. The style is very 60’s, but there is a touch of timelessness here and there – the Veronica Lake hair, jeweled hairclip and neutral-colored makeup gives Ginger a classy touch.
I’m falling for her too.
Her tipping-the-valets-and-doormen outfit. Hustle hustle! I like to ignore the Madonna invocation by that high ponytail, and credit it to Showgirl hair styles instead. Despite that bold color and jewelry/jeweled beadwork of the dress underneath, Girlfriend Ginger is still grounded by her soft white fur coat. She’s still the ideal woman for Ace and remains relatively harmless to him.
Mini-skirt suit, short veil? Not really into marriage – that’s what this bridal wear tells me. The curled-tips beehive hair is awesome though.
I hate puffy hairbands too!
Bobby D’s voice, saying “It’s chinchilla”, reverberates in my heart always! This scene is the most affectionate Ginger will ever be to Ace, and we can see why. Not seen in this shot is her tie-dyed, Pucci-esque go-go girl outfit.
Candy-colored go-go girl. Still the wolf playing a sheep. He’s about to sign over a lot of money to her, and she has to look like all of these characteristics at once: benign, trophy-sexy, modern and definitely the kind of wife you want to gift and spoil at any moment. Baby blue and white are great choices, and the miniskirt and high-heeled boots show off her assets.
Ace’s outfit here is top-notch: a tongue-in-cheek nautical color combination. Canary yellow sports coat, navy blue shirt, white loafers? BOLD. They look very “we’re-going-to-California” in these colors and sunglasses, don’t they?
She’s becoming a tough broad behind Ace’s back, though. The royal blue accentuates her sneer.
Not subtle. She’s the trophy wife, literally.
And here’s the Turn:
Bride-type-white on the day she betrays Ace? Smells like irony. This weird half-fur, hooded white trench coat is gregarious and serves as a visual cue of Ginger’s instability. After this breakdown/honest portrayal of her misguided love for Lester, she’ll turn against Ace.
She’ll run to Nicky. She’s selling this: she’s got great assets (ahem), and it’s damn stupid to cross a woman like her. Svelte and sexy for her husband’s friend is a certain message, indeed.
The drunk version of Ginger is a mockery of WASP wives! Genius! A tennis outfit and sneakers (I think the only time we see her in flat shoes ever) is the beginning of her messier looks. She’s emotionally devastated, and she’ll wear knits if she wants to, goddamnit!
Ace is trying to get his license, and they’re both trying to win over the Nevada state review board that’s brimming with cowboys. Her concession: a low, “seriously devoted” bun hairstyle and some Southwestern turquoise jewelry. Somber burgundy. She doesn’t look like herself. Neither does Ace – his tie isn’t matching his shirt for once.
Their foray into “normality” to win over their non-Mafia opponents is transparent and immediately unsuccessful.
Late 70s/early 80s Ginger. She’s hacked away her hair, losing the angelic curls that hid her severity. She cut out to LA and wears hippie fringe – kind of a lost soul, and that’s what this outfit is telling me. Like, what? Give us the sequins back!
Red-tipped manicure. After a long Scorsese binge, I copied this look at my local nail salon. It’s more common now, but there was a moment where nail technicians would give me “??” looks when I put down the red nail polish bottle as my tip color.
The wide collar, red & black satin combination gives her a Cruella de Ville look that is both enviable and signifying of Ginger’s inner badness. Misguided youth, how it hardens the heart and ability to trust!
After a major fight, she crawls back to Ace – knowing she has no other options at the time – in her white fur. Could you say No to a fuzzy white cute thing? That’s right. And he falls for it again.
MORE of that great red French manicure. So good.
Tough bitches go down wearing leather. In Ginger’s case: gold, tan, patchwork, layered leather. Lots of it. Topped with a goodbye fur coat.
The saddest thing is that she dies in flowy, possibly polyester, hippie stuff. Sad.
I love Ginger because she is unabashed about who she is – both sheep and wolf, garish and feminine. No apologies or hesitations about shiny, loud clothing. She looks very put-together and stylish at all times, even when she’s falling apart. So Vegas.
all images from Screen Musings