12 Iconic Dresses That Were So Well Made They Shaped Pop Culture for Generations
In every movie, there’s a wardrobe, but some are limited to just having dresses and others have “DRESSES” — true works of textile art that prevail in our memory more than the plot of the films themselves. Those are the magical designs that we present in this collection, garments from feature films that have not only not gone unnoticed, but that were a vital part of the story as if they were another character.
Bright Side brings you a selection of movie dresses that are so majestic, they are worthy of queens and princesses.
1. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
This fabulous dress, designed by William Travilla, is one of the most famous movie costumes in the history of Hollywood movies and it was the perfect attire for someone like Marilyn Monroe. The pink satin, strapless, floor-length design features a daring slit and a large bow right at the lower back.
Even though this particular dress is beautiful, this was not the one Marilyn had originally intended to wear when the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” played in the movie. There was another design that had been conceived for this scene, but since it was not approved by the studio, Travilla had to get to work right away to make a backup dress. He was such a talented designer that he finished this masterpiece just 2 days before the song recordings began. It was later auctioned, set at $150,000 to $250,000, although its final bid is suspected to have been much higher.
2. Titanic (1997)
This wonderful dress, made by designer Deborah Lynn Scott, was quite a challenge in terms of technical requirements. In fact, 24 copies had to be created using different fabrics. This was so that the final dress would look flawless both when wet and when it was dry, since you probably remember this is the dress that Kate Winslet is wearing in most of the scenes where the Titanic is sinking.
Finally, the so-called “sinking dress” ended up being made with chiffon in shades of cherry and black and was adorned with rhinestones. Much like the design of the previous item in our compilation, Kate Winslet’s dress reached a final auction price of over $300,000, and this hardly comes as a surprise because it’s so beautiful.
3. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)
You probably remember that sumptuous scene where Princess Amelia of Genovia was crowned in the sequel to The Princess Diaries. There you could hardly miss the stunning dress that actress Anne Hathaway was wearing. Long, in light tones, with decorative gold embroidery, and adorned with 2 bows on the shoulders. These bows, in turn, hold a long cape that is several meters long that she dragged on the floor, as a train, to make her look like true royalty.
But if you thought that the dress was fabulous, wait until you hear the following fun fact. All the accessories that Hathaway is wearing probably caught your eye as well. That’s not surprising since the jewelry worn by both the princess and the queen was actually authentic jewelry.
4. Mirror, Mirror (2012)
Another actress who became known for stepping into the shoes of a princess and, incidentally, for wearing some amazing and colorful dresses that captivated the audience, was Lilly Collins. This popular British actress played Snow White in the movie Mirror, Mirror.
The particular dress that you can see above, in our compilation, was designed by Eiko Ishioka. It actually has a real corset and a wire frame underneath the floral print skirt. The wire frame was added to give the dress enough lift because they wanted something impressive. Thanks to this it was about 5 feet in circumference. The embroidery work, puffed sleeves, skirt, and bodice made the dress a work of art that required about 25-35 yards (or around 22-32 meters) of fabric to be finished.
5. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
There’s no way on Earth that you can think of Belle, and not see her wearing that floaty yellow dress. It’s like it fits her so well that you can’t not automatically think of it after saying her name. So when, in the latest live-action adaptation of the story, we saw the famous princess played by Emma Watson wearing another version, we have to say that the producer’s decision was kind of edgy. The dress she appears with is less flashy and conveys a much more modern and fresh look that suits Watson so well, nobody could complain.
It will forever be remembered as a romantic white dress decorated with painted flowers, both on the bodice and on the skirt, and also with some imitation flowers on the fabric in the same tone added here and there, in an elegant fashion. The sophisticated sleeves of the dress, almost transparent, are also covered with flowers. Every detail adds something and is in perfect harmony with the character it represents.
6. Gone with the Wind (1939)
Vivien Leigh wore several different gowns throughout the film. They were all made by the Californian costume designer Walter Plunkett, who served as an inspiration for many other designers, including big names like Christian Dior. We can probably agree that they’re all wonderful, but the green dress above has something extra special.
You first see this gown in a scene in which the protagonist intends to dominate a rich man, but she has nothing to wear for the occasion. So she comes up with a fairly strange idea: to make a dress out of the green velvet curtains hanging in the windows of her estate. Plunkett was a great tailor, prudent and detail-oriented. The proof of that is that he managed to make this design look as if it were sewn by an amateur. While beautiful, the dress was far from being perfect. If you look closely you can see and even feel how it was done in a hurry. It was actually left in the sun for a while to get it to look like worn curtains.
7. Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
The costumes in this movie are magnificent, but this particular design really caught our eye. It was even more so because it was Charlize Theron who wore it when she was playing the role of the wicked witch in Snow White and the Huntsman.
This stunning garment was the work of Colleen Atwood, who later said during an interview that all the witch’s costumes were the most difficult to make. That was because they had to reflect how evil she was, but at the same time, they were meant to mirror the transformation she undergoes throughout the plot. Fabrics from all over the world and the most peculiar decorations, like beetle shells, were used to make them.
8. To Catch a Thief (1955)
This dress, worthy of a Greek goddess, was created by designer Edith Head. It was made with chiffon in different shades of blue and under its shapes and delicate folds of fabric, it hides a corset with thin straps. In a way, its simplicity comes as a surprise, something that goes great on a classic beauty like Grace Kelly. The actress also chose not to wear any accessories. She limited herself to adding a simple floating scarf and a blue handbag, which gives it a natural and casual touch.
A color that’s as particular and as bright as that of this dress was far from being customary for evening wear back in the day, let alone for a young unmarried woman like the character was supposed to be. However, this piece was consciously designed with the aim of highlighting the actress’s beauty at all times and giving her character a cold and distant appearance, which would, later on, fade away as the plot unfolded.
9. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
Amazing gowns aren’t just a princess thing. Another witch that wore a dreamy dress is Jadis, the White Witch played by Tilda Swinton in The Chronicles of Narnia saga. All the designs she wears are able to convey perfectly how cold this character is, but with a unique mixture of power and mystique. They were the work of film costume designer Isis Mussenden, and making this dress was a big job because it is composed of 3 different layers of fabric.
All the different fabrics used to make this astonishing piece were dyed so that the final result would mimic the strange color of ice. The first layer of the dress was made of velvet. This was meant to give the whole piece more structure and some rigidity. The second layer is made of a mix of felted wool and silk, mainly to add more texture. Finally, the last layer is a voluminous lace, which we can see in the bodice. This last layer is what gives that special touch of elegance and majesty to the look.
10. Aladdin (2019)
Designer Michael Wilkinson traveled through the Middle East, Africa, Turkey, and Pakistan in search of inspiration and authentic materials to create the costumes for the live-action adaption of Disney’s Aladdin. While most of the women of Agrabah wear attire that is inspired by Arabian culture, Princess Jasmine’s outfits are actually inspired by the more baroque style that is found in South Asia. This was meant to be a tribute to her mother, who came from a neighboring kingdom called Shehrabad.
Therefore, her beautiful dress was made of silk, had paisley prints, and was adorned with beads and embroidery. It’s hard to not agree with Wilkinson’s genius and original combination of fuchsia and coral. These are both bright and energetic colors and they were clearly the perfect way the designer found to represent the princess’s thirst for adventure and zest for life.
11. Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
This dress was created by Adrian Adolph Greenburg, known simply as Adrian. He was the official costume designer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer between 1928 and 1941. He was also responsible for creating the amazing pieces you can see in The Wizard of Oz, including Dorothy’s unforgettable red shoes.
This magnificent fantasy dress, worn by Hedy Lamarr, certainly has just as much class and style as those beautiful red shoes. For starters, the dreamy decoration made of stars takes you to a different world just by looking at it. As you can see in the pictures, dozens of stars adorn the pattern of the fabric, as well as the accessories that are worn by the actress. And her sleeves not only reach all the way to the floor but they are several meters long, which creates a majestic starry tail.
12. The Princess Switch (2018)
This wonderful dress with a romantic touch, designed by Luminita Lungu, really caught our eye. It’s far from being the typical princess dress with an armored skirt. You know the kind we’re talking about — those gowns that look flashy and uncomfortable. Well, this design is actually pretty simple and natural but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look elegant and feminine.
The layers of white tulle on the skirt give a certain sense of fullness and body to the piece but without adding too much weight. This is maybe where that light and comfortable look comes from. On the other hand, the embroidered flowers, along with the sweetheart neckline, ended up giving the whole character a delicate air of femininity, but in a subtle way.
Which of all of these dresses did you like the most? What other wonderful movie costumes do you remember and think should be added to this list?