Our 15 favourite iconic film dresses

Who doesn't love a little film history?

By Tegan Mouton

Our 15 favourite iconic film dresses

Iconic film dresses

Here at B&C we are absolute cinephiles, and we’re suckers for the old school classics. It’s hard to say what our favourite thing about vintage films is, but the fashion definitely ranks pretty high on the list.

Here are our top 15 dresses from old-school (and some not-so-old-school) films.

1. Marilyn Monroe – Gentlemen prefer blondes (1953)

This stunning magenta creation, which even has its own Wikipedia page, was designed by William Travilla for Monroe’s character Lorelei Lee. The iconic pink dress was actually a last minute replacement for a more revealing dress Monroe was supposed to wear for her number Diamond’s are a girl’s best friend, and the costume department actually had to make an extra one because the floor-length dress was prone to getting dirty after numerous takes.

2.Grace Kelly – To catch a thief (1955)

Grace Kelly’s beautiful blue dress in Alfred Hitchcock’s film To Catch a Thief was the creation of iconic costume designer Edith Head. This floaty, ethereal dress was a nod to Christian Dior’s “New Look” haute couture collection, launched onto the fashion stage in 1947.

3. Deborah Kerr – The King and I (1956)

Designer Irene Sharaff’s costumes for the 1956 film The King and I are beyond beautiful, and my personal favourite is the stunning golden gown worn by Deborah Kerr in the ball scene. It’s easy to see why Sharaff won an Oscar for her design efforts.

4. Audrey Hepburn – Funny face (1957)

This beautiful red creation is the work of Hubert de Givenchy, whom Audrey Hepburn personally adored, once saying “His are the only clothes in which I am myself.” Her film Funny Face has multiple stunning fashion moments as it follows bookseller turned model Jo while she frolics around Paris, but none so more than her running down the steps of the Louvre waving a scarf of red chiffon while wearing this gorgeous piece.

5. Audrey Hepburn – Breakfast at Tiffanys (1961)

Frankly it’s really difficult not to make this whole list about Audrey but we think we can get away with at least one more mention. Sure the iconic black dress from Breakfast at Tiffanys is, well, iconic, but I have to admit that there are some other fab dresses from the film that deserve a shoutout too. My absolute favourite has to be the white toga-looking creation that Holly puts together using her curtains for her big party scene. Pure genius.

6. Diana Ross – Mahogany (1975)

Supremes icon Diana Ross stars as Tracy Chambers in this film about an aspiring fashion designer from the Southside of Chicago who moves to Rome for her big break when she meets a fashion photographer. The movie features a number of fabulous, gaudy outfits, and one of our favourites has to be this stunning purple creation.

7. Carrie Fisher – Star Wars (1977)

It’s the look that spurned a million fan boys’ dreams, and 43 years later Princess Leia Organa’s dress from Star Wars IV: A New Hope is still a popular fixture on Halloween. The white hooded gown Carrie Fisher wore for nearly the entire length of the inaugural Star Wars film was designed by John Mollo, and its simplistic design has cemented it in the fashion hall of fame.

8. Julia Roberts – Pretty Woman (1990)

Fun fact, this iconic red creation, worn by Julia Roberts as loveable prostitute Vivienne when she attends the opera in the film Pretty Woman, was originally intended to be another colour. The studio insisted it wanted the dress to be black, but costume designer Marilyn Vance argued that it needed to be red. Thank goodness! 30 years later this outfit is so iconic, it was even exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2014.

9. Clare Danes – Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Oh beautiful dress, beautiful dress, wherefore art thou beautiful dress? While Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet may not be every Shakespeare fan’s cup of tea, I love the stunning costumes designed by Oscar winning designer Catherine Martin, who also worked on films like Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby.  Probably the most iconic look from this movie, Juliet wears this costume when Romeo first spots her in at the elaborate party the Capulets host at their home. Swoon.

10. Amanda Bynes – What a girl wants (2003)

Was there a better feel-good film moment in the early ‘oughts than Amanda Bynes as Daphne Reynolds rocking up to the debutante ball wearing this fab creation after her stepmother-to-be tried to sabotage her? I think not. I have to re-watch What a girl wants immediately, especially to see young(er) Colin Firth.

11. Kate Hudson – How to lose a guy in 10 days (2003)

Ben Barry you’re so vaaaaiiiin!

We’ve always loved this gorgeous yellow creation by costume designer Karen Patch, who designed the timeless satin dress specifically to show off the amazing Harry Winston, 84-carat yellow diamond necklace that actress Kate Hudson wore in the climatic party scene of the film How to lose a guy in 10 days (which included a fantastic rendition of You’re so vain, sung by Hudson and Matthew McConaughey).

12. Hilary Duff –A Cinderella Story (2004)

This beautiful dress had Grade Three me swooning when “Princeton Girl” and “Nomad” met for the first time at the Halloween ball in A Cinderella Story. The film’s costume designer, Denise Wingate, chose a white Monique Lhuillier dress to contrast with the cartoon Cinderella’s iconic blue dress, and they made 12 different masks to see which one would work for the big scene.

13. Jennifer Garner – 13 going on 30 (2004)

Does anyone else look at this dress and immediately hear Thriller playing in their head? If not, we can’t be friends with you. This gorgeous multi-colour baby doll dress, which the film’s costume designer Susie DeSanto had to order from Italy, was the perfect piece for Jennifer Garner as the character of Jenna Rink, a 13-year-old trapped in her 30-year-old future self’s body. Fun fact, did you know that the blindfold 13-year-old Jenna wears when she’s making her wish in the closet was designed to match this dress? Me neither. 

14. Amy Adams – Enchanted (2007)

First off, can we just say that Enchanted, which follows Amy Adams as Giselle, a doe-eyed cartoon princess who is sent to real life New York by an evil witch, desperately needs a sequel. Anyway, designed by iconic costume designer Mona May (Clueless, Never Been Kissed) this ridiculously lavish creation earned May a nomination for a Costume Designers Guild Award, and was perfectly ridiculous to illustrate how much of a “fish out of water” Giselle is when she first lands up in New York. We love it!

15. Isla Fisher – Confessions of a shopaholic (2009)

Does this dress look like it was dreamt up by a 5-year-old? Yes. Am I obsessed with it? Yes. This ridiculously colourful creation (a bridesmaid’s dress) was the brainchild of Oscar-winning costume designer Patricia Field (of Sex and the City, Devil Wears Prada and Emily in Paris fame) who says that she wanted the film’s bridesmaid dresses to look like tropical flowers. I’ll admit I don’t really see it, but I’m always down for tulle.

Click here for more style news.