21. Katharine Hepburn’s white gown in The Philadelphia Story
Some actresses are iconic enough to deserve double billing on our list, and Katharine Hepburn is one of them (discover the rest for yourself and let us know if you found them all in the comment section). In the 1940 film The Philadelphia Story, Hepburn proves she is not only extremely talented (something we already knew, from the fact that she was a four time Best Actress Academy Award winner), but can also carry a gown like no other. The plot of the film was written especially for her, by playwright Philip Barry, in an effort to revive her career after a series of movie flops she experienced in the 1930s. Traci Lord, her character, was mapped out with Hepburn in mind. The story made its debut as a Broadway success in the 1938 season and Howard Hughes, who was then dating Hepburn, bought the rights to turn it into a movie. The costumes for the film were designed by Adrian, but based on the stage costumes by Valentina. They are all tailored to suit the rambunctious personality of a Southern socialite – and the wedding dress Hepburn wore in the film was also seen in 1973’s screen adaptation of The Glass Menagerie, where she accessorized it with a corsage and a necklace.
22. Versace and safety pins for Elizabeth Hurley
She may not have starred in the movie, but Elizabeth Hurley certainly stole the show at the 1997 world premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral. The then fresh-faced, relatively unknown British model was not much more than Hugh Grant’s girlfriend and date for the night. But her much discussed sartorial choice instantly brought her to the attention of the entire world. Hurley chose to wear a controversial Versace design, split on the sides, held together by oversized golden safety pins, and also featuring a plunging neckline. Many have dubbed it the most famous red carpet fashion choice of all times and Hurley later recounted not affording to buy a dress for the event. The press team at Versace lent her the dress, which then went on to also be worn by another style trendsetter – Lady Gaga, upon her visit to the Versace Maison in Milan. In 2008, a poll published in The Telegraph named this dress the most iconic red carpet dress of all times.
23. Madonna goes Like a Virgin
The year is 1984 and the music industry doesn’t know what it’s got coming its way, as Madonna prepares to release her first true hit – Like a Virgin. Both the video and the song were raunchy enough to cement the pop diva’s image as the most risqué act in MTV history, and, for the decades to come, Madonna was hard at work, building up on that image. But what truly propelled Like a Virgin to history-book status in pop culture was the singer’s performance at that year’s MTV Video Music Awards. Bob Garland, the then vice-president of programming at MTV recalls that Madonna had no idea what and how she wanted to perform on stage that day and he had to press her for an answer until the day before the show. The entire episode is surrounded in lore: Madonna’s breasts were exposed in rehearsals, when she also wasn’t wearing any underwear, during the show she lost one of her stilettos in a tier of the wedding cake, and, of course, the bridal look styled by Marisol became history. Appropriately enough, some two decades later, Madonna’s own daughter Lourdes would recreate the pose that made her mother famous.
24. Ginger in ostrich feathers
The year is 1935 and the hottest couple of the moment is the spectacularly dancing Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. They have everybody talking about their iconic dance moment in the film Top Hat, set to the Academy Award nominated song Cheek to Cheek. Yet the detail to remember from the scene is not Astaire’s top hat, but his screen partner’s resplendent ostrich feather dress. The dress is not only beautiful, but also impeccably styled. Rogers is wearing a glass panel bracelet, as was the fashion in the 1930s. Her make-up is discreet and almost angelic, and on her feet she’s wearing single strap ballroom dancing satin shoes. The dress was designed by Rogers herself, together with Bernard Newman. Newman and Rogers had worked together before, on other films, and the legend goes that the costume designer greatly valued the actress’s input. He showcased different fabrics for her, allowed her to pick out her favorites, and even sketched according to her ideas. The actual color of the dress is ‘pure blue’ – Rogers was inspired by Monet paintings for the color. The scene has been extensively cited in other movies, most notably in 1999’s The Green Mile, when wrongfully convicted criminal Coffey asks to watch the scene as his dying wish. As he sees Astaire and Rogers gliding on the screen, he appropriately remarks “They is angels…”
25. Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde chic
Bonnie and Clyde was released in 1967 – when the swinging sixties were in full swing. However, since the movie’s plot unfurls in the thirties, it was only natural for the movie’s sartorial style to be heavily influenced by that era of the Great Depression. By the then current standards, Faye Dunaway’s character is breaking all the rules: she’s not wearing a mini-skirt, first and foremost. However, her style is no less impressive, with its simple silhouetting, pencil skirts, knitwear accessorized with silk printed scarves, cardigans, checkers, the iconic beret and the equally influential blond bob. Responsible for the style is now famous costume designer Theadora Van Runkle, who actually won her first Academy Award for her work on Bonnie and Clyde. She is responsible both for creating the ‘gun moll’ look, sported by Dunaway in the film, as well as for changing the fashion of the sixties, which veered away from the mini skirt and started embracing the midi, thanks to the actress’s style. Two truths live on, when it comes to the styling in the movie. On the one hand, Warren Beatty’s compliment to his screen partner: “You’ve got a lot of class!” On the other, the costume designer’s own remarks about the clothes: “They wore clothes that people could wear to work and wear in their real lives.”
26. Mia Farrow’s entire collection of Great Gatsby gowns
Of course you’re going to have a lot of sartorial impressiveness, when talking about the screen adaptation of a novel so laden with style as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. After all, the 2013 version features some of our era’s most respected designers, from Prada to Tiffany’s to Brooks Brothers. But many believe that, when it comes to Jazz Age glitz and glamor, there is no beating the 1974 version, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. The costumes were designed by Theoni V. Aldredge, who also won that year’s Oscar for Costume Design. All the men’s suits sported by Redford were designed by Ralph Lauren, who thus saw his name rise to fame. But it is Mia Farrow’s wardrobe as Daisy Buchanan that really makes the film. Color-wise, delicacy and grace are the overarching themes, with gowns in yellow, powder pink, lavender, mimosa, silver, and glitter. All the dresses are ample and waist-loose, in order to conceal Farrow’s pregnancy. They are breezy midi-dresses, which Aldredge allegedly designed with the sunset in Greece (her birthplace) as the inspiration. Farrow wears lots of beads and long pearl necklaces, but, without a doubt, the wide-brimmed hat and silk chiffon cape in the picture above are by far the movie’s most iconic accessories.
27. Sex, the city, and the tutu
Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in the iconic TV series Sex and the City, is a text book example of a New York fashionista. She is always seen experimenting with daring styles, expensive outfits and the best in couture wear – after all, she is a trendy columnist, living at the heart of the City That Never Sleeps. Yet, almost in spite of all the luxury in her life, Carrie is featured on the show’s opening credits wearing a humble $5 ballerina tutu, purchased from the bargain bin of a chain store. The item was a spur-of-the-moment purchase made by the show’s stylist, Patricia Field. But when Sarah Jessica Parker laid eyes on it, she instantly fell in love with the multi-tiered tutu in white tulle. She pushed her view on the show’s executive producer, Darren Star, who absolutely hated it. And it looks like, in the long-run, Parker’s unique sense of style won out, as the tutu went on to become the most famous and recognizable piece that Carrie is seen wearing throughout the show.
28. Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress
If you look at the image above, featuring Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell at the height of the Spice Girls’ popularity (the 1997 BRIT Awards), it’s hard to call her attire a ‘dress’. The fiery singer sported this halter-top mini-mini dress with red platforms on stage that year. The front notoriously features the Union Jack flag of the United Kingdom, while the black-colored back displays a white peace sign. Raunchy as it may be, it still epitomizes an era: to this day, it continues to be regarded as the style pinnacle of the pop-dominated fashion scene of the mid- to late nineties. It also perfectly represents the Spice Girls, pop culture in the nineties, and was declared one of the 10 most iconic dresses of the past half a century in a 2010 poll ran by the Telegraph. Initially, Halliwell was supposed to wear a black mini dress designed by Gucci that night, but thought it too boring. So she had her own sister stitch together her ensemble, from a tea towel. The dress now holds the Guinness World record as the world’s most expensive piece of pop star fashion ever sold (auctioned off in 1998 for GBP41,320). For the 2007 Spice Girls, Halliwell sported a remake of that dress – a longer cut designed by Roberto Cavalli and made entirely out of rhinestones and Swarowski crystals.
29. Diane von Fürstenberg’s divorce-inspired wrap dress
Some women will allow themselves to grieve the end of a relationship, but not Belgian designer Diane von Fürstenberg. When she parted ways with German prince Egon von Fürstenberg, Diane did what she knew best – she designed the now iconic wrap dress. The dress became such an instant popular style sensation that it was actually featured in green, together with its designer, on a 1972 cover of the magazine Newsweek. In 2012, the designer finally told her story to W Magazine: “Usually the fairy tale ends with the girl marrying the prince. But mine started as soon as the marriage was over”. More than four decades later, the dress continues to be regarded as a must-have fashion piece and one of the most famous vintage style dresses in history. That’s no wonder, considering that, back when it was first launched, it was selling like hot cakes, with more than 25,000 dresses sold each week. Perhaps this is why the dress is considered a symbol of the women’s liberation movement, which exploded in the 1970s.
30. Elizabeth Taylor does Edith Head
Golden Era Hollywood gave us a seemingly unending roster of talented creators in all departments, from makeup and hair to set design. But costume designer Edith Head was positively legendary. She dressed just about everyone who was anyone in the movie business in those days – and you will notice her name recurring on this list. For the time being, though, let us bask in the glory that is Elizabeth Taylor’s tutu-inspired ball gown, which she wore in the 1951 movie A Place in the Sun. This is but one of the incredibly crafted vintage style dresses that Taylor wears, as she seduces screen partner Montgomery Clift. Whose character was already engaged when he met her. Always trust Taylor to create drama, right?