Informative Caption tells that this is “Actress Gloria Swanson (1897 – 1983) wearing an orchid chiffon velvet ‘Tosca’ gown with diamonds, tiny mirrors and steel beads, designed by Chanel and worn with a tiara.”
a) I assume this was promotional for her 1931 film Tonight or Never, in which she plays “a Hungarian prima donna whose latest performances include singing Tosca in Venice.” It is SAUCY and essentially is about an opera star who achieves fame, fortune, AND true love by employing a person she believes to be a sex worker, but who is actually a talent scout. (The Hays Code, as you can imagine, had A LOT of notes. Especially since it seems like the subtext of this movie — or even the text-text? — is that Gloria needed to, er, fully scale passion’s mountain in order to reach her full operatic potential.)
b) I feel like Amy Adams wore this in Enchanted.
c) I also feel like someone could wear this now –sans tiara, obviously — and it just might work.
(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)