31. Michelle Obama at the 2009 Inaugural Ball
Some have been critical of her sartorial choices, while others have rushed to praise her style, which is at once elegant and unassuming, simple – yet flattering. We believe Michelle Obama is a true style role model, something which she aptly proved at the 2009 Inaugural Ball. For the evening, the First Lady surprised many with her choice of gown. Her ruffled, one-shoulder floor-length gown was designed by the then unknown young American designer Jason Wu. The ruched bodice was complemented with fluffy appliques and sparkling beads. Mrs. Obama chose to wear Wu’s design, as she strongly believes in encouraging young talent. The dress was then donated to the Smithsonian institute, as the tradition goes for Inaugural Ball gowns.
32. Cameron Diaz, red hot in The Mask
In 1994, Cameron Diaz was a pretty face – and not much else. The young blond actress had done some modeling in her day, but hadn’t yet received the chance to give the true measure of her acting talent. In came her part as Tina Carlyle in The Mask. That’s when the true-blue California girl made it big on the silver screen and opened the door for her memorable parts to follow. In one particular scene, she epitomizes the buxom blond image, by bringing out her natural good looks in a red dress with a deep cleavage, as well as a high leg slit. The dress cut is as simple as it is effective: when you’ve got a lead female actress with a body like Diaz’s you are definitely going to want to dress her in a red hot, figure-hugging dress.
33. Marilyn Monroe shocking in pink and diamonds
Who could ever forget Marilyn Monroe’s stunning form-fitting dress in hot pink, which she wore for the Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friends number, in the famous 1953 comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? The William Travilla design is one of the best known vintage style dresses in history, lampooned many a time – most famously in Madonna’s Material Girl music video. The costume designer for the movie, William Travila, already had an Oscar for costume design under his belt when he worked on the movie, and then later claimed to even have had an affair with its star. Interestingly enough, the dress sparked controversy once more, when it was sold at an auction for $310,000, far surpassing the initial estimates of $150,000-$250,000. However, at the time, some participants in the auction claimed the actual dress that Monroe wore in the scene was lined with felt, in order to preserve its rigidity during the dance number – unlike the one that was eventually sold in the auction. The strapless floor-length dress is designed in pink satin, with a big bow and thin strap at the back. In the movie, it is famously accessorized with a pair of matching long gloves, as well as with too many diamonds to even start counting them.
34. Jackie Kennedy’s 1961 Inaugural Ball gown
This list would have definitely lacked something, in the absence of the First Lady of style, Jackie Kennedy (who then became known as Onassis, or simply as Jackie O.). The inaugural gowns of First Ladies since her have garnered some attention – Michelle Obama seems to be following faithfully in Jackie O’s style footsteps. However, the white gown Jackie wore at the 1961 Inaugural Ball clearly takes the cake. The sleeveless evening gown was made out of silk chiffon, overlaid on top of a layer of peau d’ange. The off-white gown is supported by a strapless bodice, embroidered with silver thread and embellished with brilliants. Jackie Kennedy made the sketches for the dress herself, and the end-product is the work of Ethel Frankau, from the Bergdorf Custom Salon. On the evening of the Inaugural Ball, Jackie Kennedy wore it with a matching floor-length cape, as well as with full length gloves and a small, discreet clutch. Following the event, the Washington Post described the outfit by saying that Jackie’s “career as a major fashion influence was beginning impressively”. Today, the gown can be seen on display at the Smithsonian Institute.
35. Carrie Fisher as the original Princess Leia
Carrie Fisher is the original Princess Leia, first featured in the 1977 Star Wars film by George Lucas. Her image, in the braided buns and white dress, has become one of the most popular ones in the history of science fiction and films in general. Countless fans still replicate her costume to this day, either at conventions, parties, or for Halloween. However, Fisher herself doesn’t think of the dress (or the movie) too fondly. Her memoir, Wishful Drinking, literally says “George Lucas ruined my life”. She also really hated most of the costumes she had to wear in the movie, which also included the white dress featured above. However, the white halter-neck dress, cinched at the waist, with a hood and flared sleeves, is pure ‘Princess Leia’ style, regardless of what the actress might feel about it.
36. Cher’s show-stopping 1986 Oscars dress
Nowadays, the Academy Award red carpet is a seemingly unending stream of prim and proper spaghetti-strap gowns in delicate fabrics, conventional colors, and classical cuts. Fashion critics around the world are actually longing for the days when outspoken stars with tons of personality like Cher were making the rules of the Oscars fashion dress. The outlandish costume (since it’s not really a dress) was designed by Bob Mackie, Cher’s long-term collaborator and friend. The actress chose to wear the mid-riff baring outfit as a form of protest against the reproach made to her by the members of the Academy themselves. Cher was told that the reason for which her performance in the gripping 1985 film Mask did not receive a nomination was that “the Academy doesn’t think you’re serious, (when) you don’t dress seriously”. So that’s what she chose to wear in tow, complete with a two-foot tall headpiece made of rooster feathers. To this day, Cher considers this look her all-time favorite, and it’s easy to understand why.
37. Jean Seberg as the Nouvelle Vague It Girl
She may have been American, but thanks to her androgynous beauty and starring part in Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal Breathless/À Bout de Souffle (1960), Jean Seberg literally became the image of the French Nouvelle Vague. This cultural movement started from film, but it soon came to influence most other arts – most notably photography and fashion. In the movie, Seberg plays an American expat journalist, working for the Parisian edition of the New York Herald Tribune, and she certainly looks the part. Her look could be summed up in three major style elements, all featured above: the blond pixie haircut, black eyeliner, and sailor stripes in every color, shape, and form. Since the movie doesn’t credit any costume designers, it’s logical to assume that Seberg selected her own wardrobe for the film, which also included loafers, trench coats, a Trilby hat, sunglasses, and boyfriend shirts. The star’s stye is as iconic as it is current and up-to-date.
38. Katharine Hepburn’s gold lamé dress
Now, when we think of Katharine Hepburn, we usually remember her as that loud-mouthed, stubborn tomboy-like actress – best known for her wit and intelligence than for her delicately feminine appearance. Not that she wasn’t beautiful; it’s just that she was never the stylish one of the two Hepburns. However, she did have her moment of style grace, which gave us one of the most deliciously decadent vintage style dresses in film history. That happened in the 1939 screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby, in which she and screen partner Cary Grant go at odds with each other. Hint: the dress doesn’t survive the scene, but, on the upside, the way it rips allows us to see what kind of underwear the screen diva preferred.
39. The pristine & gilded Sabrina
We couldn’t have left out Audrey Hepburn’s legendary outfits in Sabrina, but do bear in mind that you’ll soon be seeing her again in our chart. For Sabrina, Hepburn pulled all the stops of her impeccable personal style. Few actresses and style icons knew how to accent the natural beauty of their figures as well as Hepburn, and this is immediately apparent in Sabrina. The actress chose all her character’s dresses herself and was adamant to dress in genuine Parisian attire. The costume selection was supervised by esteemed costume designer Edith Head. The designer and the star worked together on outfit sketches, even though Head was reportedly dismayed she had to let go of a lavish opportunity for pushing her own designs. The film also marks Audrey’s first ever collaboration with Givenchy, from whom she purchased three outfits that appear in the movie, for $850. The gown in question is, indeed, Givenchy, and it is notably different from the Dior New Look inspired outfits the other women wear at the Larrabee ball. It was made out of white organdy and the overskirt splits at the back to reveal a pencil skirt. The gown is also featured in the 2013 Collector Collection from Barbie.
40. Grace Kelly’s Dior-inspired Edith Head dress in Rear Window
This particular dress is a meeting of so many great influences and sources of talent, we wouldn’t know where to start. First off, it’s sported by none other than the soon-to-become Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly herself. Then, she’s wearing it in what has been described as one of the best movies of all time, 1954’s Rear Window. Thirdly, the movie is one of the best ones ever made by brilliant film noir director Alfred Hitchcock. Last, but certainly not least, it was designed by designer superstar Edith Head. Head designed no fewer than five outfits for Grace Kelly’s performance in this movie. This one in particular was inspired by the iconic New Look line for the house of Dior – and couldn’t be more fitting for Hitch’s very own muse.