Nancy Reagan

RORY: You look like Nancy Reagan.

Nancy Reagan (born Anne Robbins, 1921-2016) was an American film actress, and as wife to Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the US, First Lady from 1981 to 1989.

Nancy Reagan had a strong interest in fashion and was often compared to former First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, previously discussed. She favoured the colour red, and wore it so often that fire-engine red became known as “Reagan red”. Her clothing choices did actually resemble Lorelai and Emily’s outfits, and I think they must have been based on Reagan’s signature style.

Waffle From Belgium

RORY: Lorelai Gilmore. Nope, doesn’t sound model-y enough. You need something that stands out more. How about Waffle? We could call you Waffle and say you’re from Belgium?

Rory is referring to the way many models have unusual or exotic-sounding names, sometimes the one they were given at birth, and sometimes self-chosen. (Alexis Bledel began her career as a model, so presumably would know of many examples).

Waffle is from Belgium because they are famous for this foodstuff. American love “Belgian waffles”, which were introduced to North America in 1962, and popularised in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair – a variant of the Brussels waffle, served with strawberries and whipped cream (the Belgian cook who brought them over didn’t think North Americans would recognise Brussels as the name of a Belgian city).

There are several different types of waffle in Belgium, and none of them are called Belgian waffle. They tend to be larger and lighter than Belgian waffles in North America, with larger squares and a deeper grid pattern. Unlike in North America, they are not served as a breakfast food, but more often as a dessert or afternoon snack with coffee. [picture is the American version of Belgian waffles].

Leonardo DiCaprio

LORELAI: Ugh, they totally just snuck that modelling thing in.
RORY: Hmm, my mom’s a model. Maybe you’ll get to date Leonardo DiCaprio now.

Leonardo DiCaprio (born 1974), award-winning actor, producer, and environmentalist, known for taking unusual roles, especially in biopics and period pieces. At this stage, DiCaprio had won critical acclaim for his role in the 1993 quirky coming of age film, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and become an international star after playing the male lead in the 1997 epic romance, Titanic, which became the highest-grossing film to that point.

In 1999, he began dating Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen (born 1980), a relationship which lasted until 2005; this is what Rory is thinking of [pictured]. It’s another of those celebrity references which have had real staying power, because DiCaprio went on to date a number of other models, and since 2017 has been in a relationship with Argentine-American model Camila Morrone (born 1997).

Kate Moss

LORELAI: Oh, yeah, sure, I’ll be there all day. So, a fashion show, huh? Are we gonna get any famous models?
AVA: Excuse me?
LORELAI: You know, to model the clothes. Any chance I’m finally gonna get to see Kate Moss eat something?

Katherine “Kate” Moss (born 1974) is a British supermodel and businesswoman. She rose to fame in the mid 1990s as part of the grungy heroin chic fashion trend, where models were not only emaciated to the point of androgyny, but also had pale skin, stringy greasy hair, and dark circles under their eyes, as if actually physically ill or drug-ravaged. It was a reaction against the 1980s supermodel trend of models looking healthy and vibrant, like Elle MacPherson.

Kate Moss became a fashion icon through her collaboration with Calvin Klein, famous for her waif-like size zero figure and connections with the British music scene, dating famous musicians and appearing in several music videos. She had allegations of drug use against her which she never denied, although she was later cleared of all charges due to lack of evidence.

She became known for her quote, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, which she later regretted. Despite Lorelai wondering if Kate Moss will ever eat anything, one of the reasons she became so popular with the media is that she was very thin, yet was often photographed eating junk food, which she claimed to live on. I can’t help wondering if she was one of the inspirations for Lorelai and Rory’s diet!

Although fans sometimes get frustrated with Lorelai and Rory looking so slim despite their supposed huge appetites and junk food diet, in fact they were refreshingly energetic, fit and healthy looking compared to many of the girls and women in the media and on television shows in the 1990s (eg Paris Hilton, Ally McBeal). This was a time when actresses like Alicia Silverstone and Drew Barrymore were considered “fat”. Lorelai and Rory may have been slender, but at least they didn’t starve themselves, or look sick and scrawny.

Saks

AVA: Aubrey here works at Saks.
AUBREY: Uh, used to work at Saks.

Saks Fifth Avenue is a luxury department store chain which originated in Washington DC in 1827, and is now headquartered in New York. The closest store to Hartford is in Greenwich, Connecticut, about 90 minutes drive away [pictured].

Aubrey is quick to correct the assumption that she is still working after being married for a month, which would imply her husband couldn’t support her financially. Unlike Lorelai, the Booster Club mothers don’t have to work, underlining that it is much more of a sacrifice for Lorelai to participate.

“Glittery glove and a really freaky face”

LORELAI: So how’s it going?
RORY: Actually, I’m not very good [at dancing].
DEAN: Yeah, which is really holding me back, because I’m a natural.
LORELAI: Well, maybe you just need a glittery glove and a really freaky face.

A reference to pop singer Michael Jackson (1958-2009), known for being an extraordinary dancer.

He famously wore a “glitter glove” on one hand for the first time he did the “Moonwalk” while performing Billie Jean in 1983. This leather glove studded with diamantes became an iconic look for him.

Jackson was also known for the amount of cosmetic surgery he had on his face – perhaps as many as ten operations by the early 1990s on his nose, cheekbones, chin, forehead, and lips. Over time, his face became more and more unrecognisable.

Crinoline and Cummerbund

While discussing preparations for the ball, it transpires that Rory will be wearing a crinoline under her dress, and Dean will need to wear a cummerbund.

A crinoline is another word for a hoop skirt, previously discussed.

A cummerbund is a broad sash worn around the waist, these days usually with a dinner jacket or tuxedo. Originating in Persia, they were adopted by British officers stationed in India, and adopted as an alternative to the waistcoat. A cummerbund is worn for black tie events in North America.

Neil Young and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

DEAN: It’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
RORY: And doesn’t Neil Young look cool? … If you’ll notice, he’s wearing a tux.
DEAN: Neil Young looks cool because he’s Neil Young, not because he’s wearing a tux.

Neil Young (born 1945) is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter, musician, and activist. His career started in the 1960s, and includes membership of critically-acclaimed rock band Buffalo Springfield, folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and solo work backed by his band Crazy Horse. His distorted electric guitar playing has earned him the nickname “Grandfather of Grunge”. He has won several Grammy and Juno Awards, and been named one of the great musical artists in history, defined by his guitar work, deeply personal lyrics, and signature high tenor vocals.

Neil Young has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – in 1995 as a solo artist, and in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield. He has served to induct others into the Hall of Fame six times: The Everly Brothers (1986), Woody Guthrie (1988), Jimi Hendrix (1992), Paul McCartney (1999), The Pretenders (2005), and Tom Waits (2011).

However, Neil Young doesn’t seem to have worn a tuxedo for any of his appearances at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, preferring a more casual (and occasionally more cowboy) look. When he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1982, he did dress in evening wear: not a tuxedo, but tailcoat, ruffled shirt, waistcoat and bow-tie [pictured].

It seems awfully unlikely, but just possibly they are watching an old video of this somehow (or it appears in a documentary or clip show???), and Dean mistakes it for the Rock and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. It feels as if Rory and Lane might have put it on expressly to persuade Dean that men can still look cool in formal wear.

Famous Debutantes

CHRISTOPHER: Well, did you tell her about Barbara Hutton, Doris Duke, Gloria Vanderbilt?
LORELAI: Yes, and she’s perfectly willing to marry Cary Grant, get offed by her crazy butler, and start designing blue jeans as soon as the ball ends.

Barbara Hutton, previously discussed. She was first dubbed the “Poor Little Rich Girl” at her lavish debutante ball in 1930. She married seven times. Her third marriage was to Hollywood actor Cary Grant in 1942; although he genuinely seemed to care for Hutton, they divorced in 1945. Grant did not seek or receive money from her in the divorce settlement. He was probably her best husband.

Doris Duke (1912-1993), billionaire tobacco heiress and socialite, dubbed the “Richest Girl in the World”. She was presented as a debutante in 1930, at a ball at the family home in Newport, Rhode Island. She was widely travelled, with an interest in the arts and horticulture. She was the first non-Hawaiian woman to take up the sport of surfing. A keen philanthropist, she donated money to AIDS research, medicine, and child welfare, including supporting the education of black students in the South. Duke died from a stroke, but rumours persist that she was murdered by her Irish butler, Bernard Lafferty (1945-1996). No charges were ever laid, and Lafferty died in his sleep only three years later. He wasn’t “crazy” so much as an alcoholic.

Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019), heiress, socialite, artist, actress, and fashion designer. During the 1930s she was the focus of a scandalous child custody case between her mother and her paternal aunt, Gertrude Whitney, which Gertrude won after Gloria’s mother was declared an unfit parent. Gloria made her debut in 1940. Vanderbilt studied both acting and art, managing to have successful careers in both, as well as becoming an author. A model at 15, she ventured into the fashion industry in the 1970s, and in 1976 launched a line of blue jeans which were an immediate success.

(The picture is Gloria Vanderbilt as a sixteen-year-old debutante).