The Record
18 June 2001
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It's the 'Moulin Rouge' Look: corsets and fishnet stockings
Knight Ridder Newspapers

Are you ready for "cancan couture"? How about "bordello chic"?

Fashion is betting that the current fascination with corsets and fishnet hosiery will get a boost from "Moulin Rouge," the Nicole Kidman film about a pricey courtesan and her impoverished lover that opened earlier this month.

While fashion seldom inspires films, "Moulin Rouge" is an exception.

"We were inspired to find a relevance to the period silhouettes in modern designers like Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Thierry Mugler, and Alexander McQueen. The list is absolutely endless," says Catherine Martin, who designed the film's costumes along with Angus Strathie.

In turn, the fashion world is paying homage to "Moulin Rouge."

Bloomingdale's opened "Moulin Rouge" shops with exclusive designs in its New York and Los Angeles stores in May. In the first two weeks, the chain sold more than 2,000 of the special "Moulin Rouge" T-shirt by Los Angeles manufacturer Skinny Minnie. The $32 shirts are available in all Bloomingdale's stores, with part of the sales going to Kidman's favorite charity, the University of California-Los Angeles Women's Reproductive Cancer Program.

The Lil' Kim, Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink video of "Lady Marmalade," one of the contemporary songs featured in the film, is getting plenty of air time on MTV. The quartet prances around in corsets, petticoats, and fishnet hosiery.

Vogue magazine put Kidman on its December cover, using Annie Leibovitz photos taken on the "Moulin" set. Then the May issue had Kidman modeling one-of-a-kind designer creations the movie inspired. The magazine auctioned off the items to fund AIDS programs.

Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president for fashion direction at Bloomingdale's, says he decided to do one of his famous shop concepts around "Moulin Rouge" after seeing the December issue of Vogue and talking to editor Anna Wintour.

Ruttenstein invited 25 East Coast and 25 West Coast designers, including Jessica McClintock, to design exclusive pieces for the shops. A few of the items are also available online at

"These are not copies of clothes in the film and they're not retro," Ruttenstein says. "These are modern clothes inspired by the spirit of 'Moulin Rouge.' It was the Studio 54 of the 1900s, where fancy and street people got together and had fun. The cancan was the disco dance of the day."