Boccaccio ’70: Sophia Loren’s red dress success

The inimitable Sophia Loren steals the show in La Riffa (The Raffle), Vittorio De Sica’s closing contribution to Boccaccio ’70. Cast as Zoe, Loren works the shooting gallery in a travelling carnival, her provocative attire designed specifically with male punters in mind. In an attempt to raise some extra cash to pay off her (pregnant) sister’s taxes, the ringmaster sells raffle tickets at every stop the circus makes. The prize? A night in Zoe’s bed. Inevitable complications arise when Zoe falls for the charms of a stable boy, and begins to question her continued involvement with the lucrative raffle.

Loren’s more-than-ample assets are showcased to perfection in a tailored red pencil skirt and a low-cut, fitted bodice, a winning combination that, quite literally, drives the local men-folk insane – with one willing to part with his entire life fortune just for the chance of spending a night with the delectable Zoe. The director certainly wasn’t afraid to celebrate Loren’s famed curves, as the camera lingers on her every action. When a loose bull is attracted to the vibrant hue of her outfit, Zoe is forced to unbutton and remove her bodice, revealing a dramatic black mesh under layer. In classic slapstick style, the crowd of men attempt to convince Zoe its not safe to put her top back on – after all, that bull could come back at any moment.

It’s surely no coincidence that Loren-as-Zoe comes clad in the perfect passion shade, one that marks her out as the centre of attention in every scene she’s in. De Sica’s introduction of casual humour and borderline slapstick comedy (think over exaggerated lechery and weeping hysteria) ensures that Zoe’s sensuality is down-to-earth and accessible. Red, usually sobered with marl greys or neutral separates, is left to speak for itself, The vibrant shade also amplifies the impact of Loren’s heavily kohl-rimmed eyes and messy beehive; she is a scarlet woman with a twist of as-mama-likes-them Italian authenticity – and perhaps the closet in spirit to Giovanni Boccaccio’s eloquent poetry, the starting point for the entire portmanteau.

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