Oh, that white halter dress that teasingly billowed from breezy, cheeky grates as Monroe tries to smooth it down, giggling as onlookers whistled on Lexington Avenue. This scene became one of the most seminal shots of the 20th century (and the inspiration for many a party costume, too), and was a highlight of Monroe’s career. As it was, probably, also that for the dress’ creator, costume designer extraordinaire William Travilla: the pleated dress sold for a whopping US$5.6m at auction in 2011.
Sex kitten Brigitte Bardot was aptly styled by Pierre Balmain throughout this controversial movie. And of course, the Balmain effect was just as fierce then as it is today. The legendary couturier introduced curve-accentuating cuts that made even everyday staples jaw-droppingly seductive. Take this simple belted shift – simple yet stunning, it’s a universally flattering wardrobe staple now just as it was then (read: go get your own now!).
Sure, think ‘iconic dress’ and an image of the couture Givenchy LBD worn by Hepburn as Holly Golightly peering through the window of Tiffany & Co. will pop up in mind. But there’s another Givenchy that we adore: that hot-pink silk cocktail dress, studded with green rhinestones and paired with a matching collarless, three-quarter sleeve coat claimed its own spot in sartorial history by providing a jolt of colour to the film’s neutral palette. Let’s not overlook that amazing headpiece, either…it’s all in the details, friends.
Alicia Silverstone’s fashion-obsessed character Cher, with her to-die-for electronic walk-in closet, throws on a simple white shift dress for a date. On leaving the house, her father yells:
‘What the hell is that?’
‘A dress,’ she answers.
‘Says who?’ he yells.
‘Calvin Klein,’ she retorts.
In 2010, Calvin Klein designer Francisco Costa relaunched the dress, to the excitement of Clueless fans everywhere. Simple = boring? As if.
We’ll admit it – we had high hopes for designer Tom Ford’s directorial debut, maybe more so for guaranteed costume geniusness than the film itself. (We are happy to report that we were pleased in both aspects). Hollywood star stylist Arianne Phillips, best known for outfitting Madonna, was enlisted to translate Ford’s fashion aesthetics on to film. The result? Julianne Moore’s monochrome dress is nothing less than stunning, and no less timeless for being so obviously from the 60s. The suiting throughout the film is impeccable, too. Are we surprised? Not at all. Ford wouldn’t settle for less. And why should he (we)?