11 of the Most Iconic Dresses in Film

 

A look back at famous dresses that went down in movie history 

 

 

Imagine watching the live-action Beauty and the Beast for the very first time: You had just revisited the classic cartoon movie in anticipation. Your inner ‘90s fanatic is more than ready for this remake. And down the ballroom stairwell comes Emma Watson in the iconic Belle ball gown…except it’s in a random shade of blue instead of the quintessential yellow. No doubt that would be enough to set off any Disney purist and throw off even a typical moviegoer.

 

In the same way, a Marie Antoinette in slacks would be absolutely criminal. A Miranda Priestly in knockoff streetwear would get a wtf and a laugh.

 

Costume design is that vital a movie element. By itself, in fact, it’s a form of storytelling. Even without scoring and language, costume can introduce a character to the audience. It adds context, drama and flair, can set the tone and intensify a mood.

 

It’s no wonder costumes in cinema require an entire department, dedicated researchers and a skillfull eye. And if audiences recall certain movie scenes fondly with a showstopping, authentic article of clothing in mind, then the costume designer’s job is done.

 

Here, we recall 11 of the most iconic dresses in film:

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

 

The actress: Audrey Hepburn

The dress: A black floor-length gown by Hubert de Givenchy with a cutout décolleté (known also for the glamorous yet dressed-down styling: a pair of black elbow-length gloves, a five-strand pearl necklace, a pair of sunglasses and black kitten heels)

The moment: The movie begins with Holly Golightly (Hepburn) paying a visit to Tiffany & Co.

 

Cinderella (2015)

 

The actress: Lily James

The dress: A blue 19th century ensemble composed of a chemise, a corset, a crinoline, petticoats and a ball gown with a bertha collar adorned with hand-painted butterflies (this came in eight different versions for the filming of the movie)

The moment: Cinderella (James) undergoes a magical transformation with the help of her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) and makes a grand entrance in the prince’s ball

 

Pretty Woman (1990)

 

The actress: Julia Roberts

The dress: A red off-shoulder gown by costume designer Marilyn Vance-Straker, which she styled with a pair of white silk gloves and a ruby and diamond necklace by French jeweler Fred Joaillier

The moment: Edward (Richard Gere) takes Vivian (Roberts) to the Opera, but not before presenting her with an elegant necklace at their hotel suite

 

Atonement (2007)

 

The actress: Keira Knightley

The dress: An emerald green spaghetti-strap silk dress with a flowing bias-cut bodice created by costume designer Jacqueline Durran (thgis iconic dress was made from scratch, too)

The moment: Cecilia (Knightley) welcomes Robbie (James McAvoy) into their home and share a moment in the library right before the Tallis family dinner

 

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

 

The actress: Emma Watson

The dress: An 18th century yellow satin organza ball gown with gold leaf filigree patterns conceptualized by both costume designer Jacqueline Durran and Watson, who insisted on forgoing the corset for the film

The moment: Belle (Watson) dances with the Beast (Dan Stevens) in the castle ballroom

 

How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days (2003)

 

The actress: Kate Hudson

The dress: A yellow backless satin evening dress by costume designer Karen Patch

The moment: Ben Barry (Matthew McConaughey) asks Andie (Hudson) to be his date to the DeLauer diamond event, an account he had just landed for his advertising firm

 

To Catch A Thief (1955)

 

The actress: Grace Kelly

The dress: An ice blue spaghett-strap chiffon evening gown with a chiffon wrap-over accent and a fitted bodice (a nod to Christian Dior’s “New Look”) by the great Edith Head

The moment: Frances Stevens (Kelly) and her mother Jessie dine at the Carlton hotel and later on meet John (Cary Grant) for the first time in a casino

 

Scarface (1983)

 

The actress: Michelle Pfeiffer

The dress: A blue v-neck cami dress by costume designer Patricia Norris

The moment: Tony Montana (Al Pacino) sets his sights on Elvira Hancock (Pfeiffer) who happens to be the mistress of his boss Frank Lopez in the drug dealing business

 

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

 

The cartoon: Jessica Rabbit

The dress: A red sequined form-fitting dress with a sweetheart neckline and thigh-high slit (worn with purple opera gloves and red stiletto heels)

The moment: Detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is hired by Roger Rabbit to investigate an alleged affair his wife Jessica Rabbit is having and finds himself at the Ink and Paint Club where she performs as a singer

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

 

The actress: Emma Watson

The dress: A pink tiered ombre ball gown with flowy cap sleeves by costume designer Jany Temime

The moment: Hermione (Watson) arrives at the Yule ball as Viktor Krum’s date (This is also the moment Hermione is depicted as a lady—and Ron’s potential love interest)

 

The Seven Year Itch (1955)

 

The actress: Marilyn Monroe

The dress: A white pleated halter dress by designer William Travilla (in 2011, the dress was auctioned off for 4.6 million dollars)

The moment: Richard (Tom Ewell) and “The Girl” (Monroe) walk down the street after watching The Creature from the Black Lagoon at the cinemas when a breeze from the subway grate sends The Girls’ skirt flying into the air in what would be Marilyn Monroe’s most famous onscreen moment

 

 

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