The sirens of the silver screen need to be dressed like sirens. Only a select few get to design for the likes of Sharon Stone and Julia Roberts. It can be a challenge to support the film’s story and let the lady’s natural beauty shine through. You want to be sensual without creating a distraction. The type of beauty can be anything from simplistic to layered and complex. To achieve a look that blends story, designer, and star into one cohesive whole is hard. Not many can do it. This is why we remember iconic movie dresses when the three do meet in perfect harmony. I love films and I love fashion, so this list is an ode to my love of both. These seven most iconic movie dresses are just perfect.
THE POWER OF OMISSION
Costumer Ellen Mirojnick made a name for herself designing “power broker” costumes in the 80s. It started with her Gordon Gecko suit for Oliver Stone’s Wall Street and took off from there. A few years later, she sewed one of the most iconic movie dresses of all time. The dress wasn’t anything special, but what Sharon Stone failed to wear under it certainly was. Sometimes, less really is more.
The first kiss isn’t always the most romantic scene. The costume team for Pretty Woman understood this. Instead of dressing up their leading lady to meet prince charming, they did it half-way through the film for her transformation scene. Anyone who didn’t know who Julia Roberts was before that elegant red dress certainly knew her after.
When William Travilla designed Marilyn Monroe’s dress for The Seven Year Itch, he didn’t know it would become one of the most iconic movies dresses ever. The scene over the subway grate hadn’t even been planned yet. Legend has it the idea was unwelcome, difficult to film, and almost cut in the editing room. Someone persevered, and now we have one of the finest wardrobe malfunction moments in film history. Thanks, guys.
The novel this film is based on goes into great detail describing the emerald dress Cecilia wore to dinner the night she would meet her love. Costumer Jacqueline Durran listened closely to the descriptions in the book and the results were stunning. Green, the moonlight, and Kiera Knightley spell success.
PRETTY IN PINK
It’s the most childish look on this list, but it left an undeniable mark on prom dress fashion and thrift store style. Unlike the perfectly crafted suits and dresses they wore to the school dance in Grease, Molly Ringwald’s dress showed us we could still be romantic in a homemade dress. Take that, Cinderella!
Monroe may win the prize for most iconic wardrobe-driven scene, but it is Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy sheath that is the seminal film costume. Paired with black gloves, a tiara, and dark sunglasses, the look defined New York chic. In 1961, every woman wanted to be Audrey.
GONE WITH THE WIND
Don’t laugh. Scarlett O’Hara’s emerald green gown was made from the curtains of her old plantation home, but she did some pretty impressive things with those curtains! Walter Plunkett’s design captures the devastation and stubborn pride of the South with such clarity it’s incredible. So there you have it. With the right skills, you can make iconic movie dresses out of curtains.
— Julie Grossman