It’s enough to make even the poker-faced blush: Showgirl chic may seem like an oxymoron, but fashion featuring feathers, fishnets, sequins — and little else — is shaking its groove thing this season. Pop group/ burlesque act the Pussycat Dolls, best known for their addictive radio hit ”Don’t Cha,” have infiltrated the small screen with appearances on NBC’s Las Vegas as the fictional Montecito’s all-girl revue. Meanwhile, Vegas stars Molly Sims and Vanessa Marcil nearly upstage the Dolls with their metallic minis and halters (not to mention the sparkling bikini top Sims’ character flashed to casino surveillance expert Josh Duhamel on the Nov. 21 episode). Across town, CSI‘s Marg Helgenberger sports cleavage and slinks around Nevada crime scenes in stilettos. ”The town is about sex,” says designer Walter Baker, who outfits the likes of Sims, Paris Hilton, and Cheryl Hines in racy pieces inspired by Sin City. ”Bikini tops are wardrobe basics. The whole Vegas look trickles down from the showgirl.”
And the trend is just as popular off screen. Eva Longoria memorably donned a risqué bathing suit for MTV’s VMAs, Mariah Carey wore a cut-to-the-hip Versace at Fashion Rocks Monaco, and Madonna promoted her new album in fishnets and spikes. Only a G-string separates these stars from the garter belts and boas of Victoria’s Secret’s annual fashion show, which aired Dec. 6 on CBS. Top designers too are gambling that the showgirl trend has legs: Jean Paul Gaultier showed a feathery minidress at his spring 2006 runway show, while Alexander McQueen featured elaborate metallic swimsuits that were more Tropicana than Saint-Tropez.
Even unlikely garments are getting the couture treatment: Roberto Cavalli unveiled his new designs for the iconic Playboy Bunny costume in November. ”Anything goes now,” says Jill Fairchild, publisher of the just-released Where to Wear: Las Vegas 2006. ”People have the scratch to spend and they’re not taking the safe route style-wise.” Proving that what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay there.