Ginger Rogers’ life in clothes

The purple gown Rogers wore in to a women's history event in Texas in 1981, and a pink ostrich feather dress inspired by "Top Hat"

The purple gown Rogers wore in to a women's history event in Texas in 1981, and a pink ostrich feather dress inspired by "Top Hat"

Actress Ginger Rogers’ friends gave her the nickname “Pinky” because pink was her favorite color, according to Rogers’ personal secretary Roberta Olden.

Her fondness for the color was apparent Sunday in a fashion show displaying 20 of Rogers’ personal gowns at Medford’s Rogue Valley Country Club. The show was held to benefit Southern Oregon Historical Society.

“For her nightclub act, she asked (designer) Jean Louis to design something reminiscent of the dress from ‘Top Hat,’” Olden said. “That dress was blue; she wanted pink. That was just Ginger.”

About 25 pairs of Rogers’ shoes were sold at a silent auction before the fashion show, and five gowns were auctioned off live after the show.

We all like to see the human side of a celebrity and learn the small details of their life. I wanted to know her shoe size, so I took a peek inside some of the shoes at the auction to see what size she wore: 6 ½.

Not only were her feet small, she had a tiny waist, 25 inches, according to her official biography site. Olden estimated that Rogers wore a Size 0-2, even in her later years.

“She was very slinky,” Olden said.

Model Olivia Wesner, a Cascade Christian High School freshman, could barely fit into a blue sequin halter dress in a floral print, which Rogers wore in 1958 at the age of 48 on the Bob Hope Show.

“It’s just a little tight in the waist,” Wesner said later.

One gown in particular was a reminder of the British royal wedding last weekend. A long, tight dress in sparkling white that Rogers wore in 1962 for the Ed Sullivan television show was designed by Helen Rose, who also designed Grace Kelly’s wedding dress. Kate Middleton’s wedding gown was reminiscent of the one Kelly wore when she was married.

Rogers’ gowns and coats elicited gasps of delight from the audience of 300 as they came to life down the runway. One stunning number was the “Top Hat”-inspired ostrich feather dress in bright pink.

Another purple gown with silver accents and boa cuffs and collar that Rogers wore in 1981 to a women’s history event in Texas fetched $1,200 during an auction at the end of the program.

“The colors are so vibrant,” said emcee Rosemary Harrington, a former conservative talk radio host on KCMX 880. “We need to get more of that going.”

Rogers’ creativity in film branched out to other areas of her life. She enjoyed painting and designed a line of lingerie, some of which was modeled Sunday. JC Penney selected her designs in a competition between 35 celebrity contestants to create a lingerie line.

Although Rogers lived in Southern Oregon on and off for 50 years, residents here would have been hard-pressed to see her gowns wearing any of her flamboyant gowns in this region. Her secretary said Rogers came to Southern Oregon to escape the trappings of glamour and fame.

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