Credit: Stanwyck: Everett Collection; Runway: Mike Yarish/Lifetime

Last night, Project Runway went Hollywood: the designers had to create a look based on classic Hollywood genres, one of which was film noir. Althea, Louise, and Irina all picked this über cool category, and I had high hopes that the ladies would crank out some fierce femme fatale frocks. Wrong! Louise failed miserably (a 1940s actress going to a party dressed as a flapper…huh?), while Irina merely squeaked by with a too-revealing gown paired with an out-of-place poufy cape. Only Althea (whose design is pictured, left) came close to capturing the sexy, dangerous allure of screen goddesses like Barbara Stanwyck (far left) and Rita Hayworth. She even got the hair right.

The challenge got me thinking about the rich history of film noir heroines and the drop-dead duds that made them so thrillingly naughty. It’s hard to top Stanwyck’s shoulder-padded blouses and pencil skirts — not to mention that ankle bracelet! — in Double Indemnity. But Hayworth’s strapless black gown and elbow-length gloves in Gilda are pretty killer too. Then there’s Mary Astor’s ruffly blouse lurking from beneath her tweed suits in The Maltese Falcon. Positively lethal, all three of ’em! And I mean that as the highest of praise.

Now you, PopWatchers. Who are your favorite film noir dames? And which of their costumes made you feel like you were six feet under just lookin’ at ’em? Kim Novak in Vertigo? Ava Gardner in The Killers? Of course, you don’t have to stick to the classics — though they are the juiciest. So…maybe a little Kathleen Turner in Body Heat? A flash (pun intended) of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct?

Image Credits: Stanwyck: Everett Collection; Runway: Mike Yarish/Lifetime

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Project Runway

Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano guide undiscovered designers through the harrowing rites of fashion.

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