What makes us look back on memorable movie moments? It could be an action, a quote or an outfit. An iconic dress leaves us with a lasting image of a scene and it stays with us.
10. Keira Knightley’s Green Evening Dress – Atonement
In Atonement, Keira Knightley’s slim shape is perfectly suited to her green organza and chiffon evening dress with its spaghetti straps, front split and back train. The colour suggests misfortune and jealousy, mirroring the actions by sister Briony that will lead to tragedy and unhappiness.
9. Anita Ekberg’s strapless black frock – La Dolce Vita
In Fellini’s 1960 masterpiece La Dolce Vita, Anita Ekberg’s starlet invited Marcello Mastroianni’s jaded journalist to dance with her in Rome’s Trevi Fountain. Despite its watery condition, this iconic strapless black frock helped win the film an Oscar for Best Costumes.
8. Elizabeth Taylor’s white slip – Butterfield 8
Thanks to designer Helen Rose, Elizabeth Taylor had a fabulous wardrobe for Butterfield 8, with her black chiffon cocktail dress being mass produced for the public afterwards. Equally famous was the slip that she wore in many stills, after her clothes had been damaged during a night of passion.
7. Jessica Lange’s flimsy dress – King Kong
Jessica Lange’s costumes for her first starring role, in the 1976 re-make of King Kong, included rough woven material for the jungle episodes and a wet clinging black number to tackle the sea – but the most significant, of course, is the flimsy one that Kong tried to remove.
6. Jessica Rabbit’s red-sequinned strapless dress
Another Jessica has since grabbed the attention of audiences with an audaciously breath-taking dress. Jessica Rabbit was Roger Rabbit’s Toon human wife, stunning in a red-sequinned strapless creation with a low back and high slit that fitted her hour-glass shape like one of her long gloves.
5. Sharon Stone’s skimpy white dress – Basic Instinct
It’s not so much what Sharon Stone wore for her Basic Instinct interrogation that makes it special; it’s what she didn’t wear. Facing a roomful of male police officers, she used her skimpy white outfit and its lack of underwear to take control, and in doing so, created a memorable moment.
4. Sarah Jessica Parker’s wedding gown – Sex and the City
Sarah Jessica Parker is essential to any list of iconic movie dresses, and Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City wedding gown must feature here. Vivienne Westwood won the right to clothe the ultimate fashionista in a now legendary vision of champagne silk, with brides everywhere rushing to order copies.
3. Julia Roberts’ silk red evening dress – Pretty Woman
It’s back to red for Pretty Woman when an off-the-shoulder silk evening dress transformed Julia Roberts into a classy lady who captivated the whole room. This life-changing moment for hooker Vivian Ward is still a favourite with movie-goers.
2. Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Continuing the Pygmalion theme, Givenchy’s designs for Audrey Hepburn brought elegance to her part as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The film revitalised Coco Chanel’s little black dress and it’s still one of the most highly-regarded movie costumes today.
1. Marilyn Monroe’s white frock – the Seven-Year Itch
A dress that can come to life to complement its wearer has special significance, and Marilyn Monroe’s white frock in the Seven-Year Itch is truly an icon of film history. Walking over a grate, her pleated skirt is caught by the breeze from an underground train and it’s blown up and around, bringing a spontaneous reaction from Marilyn.