‘Smouldering Temptress?’

Or, ‘Why I started wearing red lipstick every day at seventeen’.

Squizzy Taylor's Ball, May 2015. Photo by Adam Dean.
Squizzy Taylor’s Ball, May 2015. Photo by Adam Dean.

When I was seventeen, I watched Moulin Rouge for the first time. My world was changed forever.

And no, I don’t think that’s an exaggeration, because this is the film was the catalyst for my ubiquitous red lipstick (yep, that went over reallllly well with the teachers at my high school!) and also my obsession with corsets (which, in turn, I can thank for helping me really appreciate my figure and tiny waist).

It instantly became my favourite film, and though it’s been years since that first viewing and I basically know the film by heart, my heart still skips a beat when I watch sequences like Christian’s first night at the Moulin Rouge…





…or the perfection that is El Tango de Roxanne.





I mean, how can you not be obsessed with this film?? The costumes! The SETS!!!





Anyway… *puts hysteria aside for a moment*.  One of the most famous costumes of the film is Satine (Nicole Kidman)’s ‘Smouldering Temptress’ dress, so named because that is the method of seduction she decides to use to ensnare The Duke (Richard Roxburgh). This dress is very popular among cosplayers, and you can see why…





It’s freaking GORGEOUS. It’s famous for being worn in the Elephant Love Medley sequence, and also (as you can see from the last image) is the one Nicole Kidman wears on the film poster.

So, why am I writing this incredibly long post about Moulin Rouge?

Because, while trawling the Mill Markets somewhere near Ballarat…I found the Smouldering Temptress dress. Well, nearly.

First of all, I almost didn’t try it on, because it was labelled a size eight, and someone had actually written ‘Really tiny!!’ on the label. My waist might be a size eight, but let me tell you, my hips certainly are not.  But I took it into the fitting room, and spent a good ten minutes squeezing myself into the dress with no help — and let me tell you, this dress is tight!  The struggle was worth it, because the fit on the bodice and waist was divine.  There was one problem though: when I found this dress, it had a white sash across it, and I nearly gave it up for fear the dress would come apart when I tried to remove it. But in the end I took a gamble, forked out the $85 (marked down from $150) and brought it home.

I gave it to my (ever-talented) Nanna to have a go at and…



There are a few differences (of course), the first being that this isn’t a Hollywood costume, so there is no fancy panelling or corsetry worked into the bodice like there is in the film version. Second, the film version has a bustle in the shape of a large bow lined with black at the back, whereas my dress is the same all around.


But considering it was an out-of-the-blue op shop find that I nearly didn’t take home at all, I think I did pretty well! The shape of the skirt in particular pleases me, that kind of A-line fall that isn’t too voluminous is pretty spot-on with the film version.

Quick note about undergarments: the fact that it fits so tight on the hips means that I usually wear not a girdle but a corselette underneath (specifically, this one from What Katie Did). This smooths me out from bust to thighs, particularly reducing my hips just enough to keep the dress from bunching up at the back (thanks to my ridiculous waist-to-hips ratio).  The corselette also has a built-in bra that isn’t in any way padded, essential in a dress this tight-fitting in the bodice.

The image above is when I wore the dress out for the first time, for Halloween last year. A few days later I wore it to a showing of Moulin Rouge at the Astor Theatre, where I got some lovely compliments from strangers on the fact I had dressed up (really, any excuse to wear this dress!).

I decided (given that I want to get my money’s worth out of this thing) that I would wear this dress to a recent gig, and happened to style it with some long black gloves, not dissimilar to how the dress is worn when it first appears in the film…

2013-05-07 06.42.16 pm

Keep in mind this was a 1920s-themed event, and I was trying to adjust this dress to suit the theme, but…Satine is always my true inspiration.

Squizzy Taylor's Ball, May 2015.
Squizzy Taylor’s Ball, May 2015.


Lace gloves: a gift (they’re cheap ones I’m sure could be bought from any accessories shop)

Necklace: a gift (though I tried to read the label and I think it’s from Ishka?)

Earrings: Alannah Hill

Shoes: Found in a store in Paris (I purchased them to wear the night I went to the actual Moulin Rouge!!)

Vintage fur: was my grandmother’s

Squizzy Taylor's Ball, May 2015. Photo by Adam Dean.
Squizzy Taylor’s Ball, May 2015. Photo by Adam Dean.
Squizzy Taylor's Ball, May 2015. Photo by Adam Dean.
Squizzy Taylor’s Ball, May 2015. Photo by Adam Dean.

More than once on the night people told me I ‘look like that lady from Moulin Rouge’ which, in my estimation, is a compliment of the highest order.

So there you have it…the story of an obsession that, like Christian’s love for Satine, ‘will live forever’.


As per usual I’m going to wrap up this post with My Happiness List (small things that are making me smile!):

Visiting Typo. I don’t even have to buy anything, that shop makes me so happy. ♥ Semester (and my course!) nearly coming to an end! ♥ False eyelashes ♥ Ridiculous, just-for-stage high heels ♥ Walks in the crisp morning air ♥ Being confused, excited and slightly terrified, all at once ♥ Blasting music as I’m driving down the highway ♥ Planning fun interstate trips! ♥ Business meetings fuelled by red wine ♥ Filling up songwriting notebooks ♥ Photographs with friends ♥ Exploring the city ♥ Sitting down for a morning and reading, uninterrupted, unhurried ♥ Late night trips to Kmart ♥ Dinners with the family ♥ Auslan conversations on the train ♥ Creative collaborations and making connections ♥ Remembering to take my iron tablets (it makes such a huge difference!) ♥ Recognising old jazz songs playing at bars ♥ My Bettie bangs finally, finally being grown out ♥ New housemates for the summer! ♥ Women in menswear (think three piece suits) ♥ Feeling content ♥

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