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26 Most Iconic Hollywood dresses of all time

Ian Smith

Custom design in a movie can surely define the identity of the same and decide if the movie will have a dress trademark.

Throughout movie history, we’ve seen actresses that wore dresses like they were born for it!

These were the dresses that worked as a symbol of the movie, symbol of the movie character and symbol of the fashion era at the time.Check out the iconic movie dresses that left a huge signature and inspiration in the fashion industry, and inspiration for a Halloween custom, also.


1.Frankly, My Dear, We Love Your Dresses
 Vivien Leigh-Gone With the Wind (1939)
Vivien Leigh-Gone With the Wind (1939)

The Scarlet O’Hara’s Emerald Green  Gown that she made out of curtains in her family’s plantation house, which she wore to seduce Rhett Butler was the centerpiece dress in the movie. The curtain dress was originally designed by Walter Plunkett and it was sold just recently at an auction in Beverly Hills  for $137,000. As Scarlet O’Hara would reply “Great Balls of Fire.”

2.The Flying Skirt


The White Flying Skirt was and still is the association with iconic style, beauty and fashion. When the  custom designer William Travilla  pick this dress for Monroe in the Seven Year Itch, he hadn’t had a clue that she will stand over a subway grate and make a history. The silky white dress stand out just perfectly on Marrylin’s gorgeous figure and till now her name and her beauty can be associated with this specific outfit.The iconic white dress was sold for $5.6 million at an auction in 2011.

The Dress For Swim in The  fountain di trevi
 Anita Ekberg- La Dolce Vita (1960)
Anita Ekberg- La Dolce Vita (1960)

When Anita Ekberg jumps into Trevi Fountain in Fellini’s epic La Dolce Vita she brought a new meaning to “sex icon’ and  “men fantasy.” The black sleeveless dress that  she perfectly was maybe the reason La Dolce Vita won an Academy award for Costume Design in 1960.

The Perfect Black Breakfast Dress
 Audrey Hepburn- Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Audrey Hepburn- Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

The black dress decorated with pearls that Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn)  wore to window-shop in New York is still a definition for a classy New York style. Givenchy inspired by his long loved muse Audrey Hepburn, designed the perfect dress that symbolize Hepburn’s adorable and charming nature. This is one of the most iconic movie dresses of all time and it was sold at auction for $807,000.

All About Brown Dress
1950: A scene from the film 'All About Eve', starring Gregory Ratoff (1897 - 1960), Gary Merrill (1914 - 1990) and Bette Davis (1908 - 1989). The film was directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz for 20th Century Fox.
Bette Davis- All About Eve (1950)

“Fasten your seatbelts… it’s going to be a bumpy night!” said Bette Davis as  Margo Channing in All About Eve within an elegant brown dress and cigarette in her hand. Bette Davis won an Oscar for that part and assuming  for that dress that stand astonishingly on her. She was attached so much to the iconic gown so she requested to the costume designer  Edith Head for her private collection.

And Than The Designer Created The Dress
Brigit Bardo -And God Created Woman (1956)
Brigitte Bardot -And God Created Woman (1956)

In the final scene of And God Created Woman (1956), Bridgete Bardot taken by the beat of a mambo band rips out her green dress and start dancing, and a beauty icon was born.

The Revealing Dress

                                                                    Audrey Hepburn -Sabrina (1995)

When the chauffeur daughter who watched all the parties from a tree in the backyard appeared at the Larrabee ball, looking as a princess in a bustier gown in white organdy was decorated with a navy floral embroidery, everybody were shocked. The Givenchy  and Audrey collaboration resulted with another iconic movie dress.

The Princess Leia Dress Strikes Back
 Carrie Fisher- Star Wars (1977)
Carrie Fisher- Star Wars (1977)
The Black and White Mystery Dress
 Catherine Deneueve-Belle De Jour (1967)
Catherine Deneueve-Belle De Jour (1967)

Yves Saint Laurent is now iconic designer and respected name in fashion and movie industry, but he was yet to be discovered when he designed the dresses for  Catherine Deneueve in Belle De Jour (1967). Severine (Catherine Deneueveve) is a frigid housewife with a secret sado-masochist fantasy and fetish to prostitution. Throughout the movie she wore classy “French styled” dresses which symbolize her character and now serve as iconic movie dresses.

A Place In the Sun in a White Gown
 Elizabteh Taylor-A Place In the Sun (1951)
Elizabeth Taylor-A Place In the Sun (1951)

Elizabeth Taylor is iconic Hollywood beauty actress, but more iconic than her beauty was the  pale yellow strapless bouffant gown worn by her as Angela Vickers in  A Place In the Sun. The beautiful gown with many layers was designed specially for Taylor by the popular Hollywood custom designer Edith Head.

To Catch a Breath in a Blue Amazing Dress
 Grace Kelly-To Catch a Thief (1955)
Grace Kelly-To Catch a Thief (1955)

When the rich spoil and yet charming Frances in the Hitchcock’s classic To Catch a Thief wore the  floor length ice blue chiffon evening dress the world was mesmerized by beauty. This iconic dress was designed by the iconic Edith Head but Grace Kelly was the one who choose the dress for the specific iconic scene.

The Dorothy’s Gingham Dress From The Oz
 Judy Garland- The Wizard of Oz (1939 )
Judy Garland- The Wizard of Oz (1939 )

Here is another dress as iconic as the movie. The Dorothy’s blue gingham dress in The Wizard of Oz is one of the most popular costume designs of all time. The child star Judy Garland had to rehearse in several different dresses so the producers can decide which will characterize the best her part in the 1939’s classic The Wizard of Oz. The iconic gingham dress is set to sell for  £180,000.

The Fair Lady in a Lovely Gown

                                                                    Audrey Hepburn-My Fair Lady (1964)

By now we can declare Hepburn as the actress who wore the most iconic movie dresses of all time. In the academy award winning My Fair Lady Hepburn worn a sumptuous Ascot dress and hat designed by Cecil Beaton and sold by the Debbie Reynolds Collection. Debbie Raynolds  bought the dress for $100,000  and when Hepburn worn this outfit in the most iconic scene of the movie, it gain to its value and it was sold for incredible $3.7 million at auction.

The Pretty Red Dress
ulia Roberts-Pretty Woman (1990)
Julia Roberts-Pretty Woman (1990)

When the most iconic prostitute Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman appeared in Cinderella style scene dressed in a classy red dress the icon outfit was born.

The White Dress That had a Clue

                                                                    Alicia Silverstone- Clueless (1995)

Cher wore 50 different outfits and dresses but only one was yet to become  and iconic movie dress. The tiny white Calvin Klein slip that Alicia Silverstone wore in the final scene for which her father comment ” “looks like underwear. The designer Francisco Costa  in 2010 as  honor of the movie  re-issued the  Cher’s revealing  white dress.


Julie Christie - Dr. Zhivago (1965)
Julie Christie – Dr. Zhivago (1965)

Julie Christie’s iconic part as  a Russian seamstress turned nurse in Dr. Zhivago included her worring a pallete of authentic iconic outfits. The Dr.Zhivago wardrobe desginerd  by the costume designer Phyllis Dalton and the Russian fashion inspired many fashion designers  such as Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior, who started to use furs and silk in their collections.


The Glowing Gown
Katharine Hepburn- Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Katharine Hepburn- Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Even though Hepburn was popular by her iconic Tomboy style in movies she wore elegant dresses, such as the gold lamé gown in the Bringing Up Baby.

Dresses are a Girl’s Best Friend next to diamonds
Marylin Monroe-Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Marilyn Monroe-Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Here is another collaboration of Marilyn Monroe and William Travilla which made iconic dress. The pink Strapless dress that Monroe wore during the one of the most iconic scenes, which become a subject of major imitation such as Madona in the video of ‘Material Girl.”

The Seducing Glittery Gown
 Michelle Pfeiffer- Scarface (1980)
Michelle Pfeiffer- Scarface (1980)

From sequin dresses to silky evening gowns, the Michele Pfeiffer’s wardrobe in Scarface made a revolution in the 80’s Disco Couture era.

The Pretty Pink Dress
Molly Ringwald -Pretty In pink (1986)
Molly Ringwald -Pretty In pink (1986)

Molly Ringwald’s dress in Pretty in Pink set the definition on “The Perfect Prom Dress” in the 1980s. The Molly RInglwals’s,  handmade pink  dress was the centerpiece of fashion critics, both  reviled and loved.

Inside Daisy Clover’s Dress
 Natalie Wood- Inside Daisy Clover
 Natalie Wood- Inside Daisy Clover
The Prom Dress
 Olivia Newton John- GRease (197 )
Olivia Newton John- Grease (197 )

Everyone’s favorite scene from the Grease of course is when the girl next door Sandy revealed her dramatic transformation wearing black pantsuit. However, the dress who made a iconic signature is the prom dress who defines the perfect American High Schooler who marries her sweetheart.

Gilda’s Black Strapless Dress
1946: Rita Hayworth (1918 - 1987) plays the sexy title role in the wartime film noir 'Gilda', directed by Charles Vidor. (Photo by Robert Coburn Sr.)
Rita Hayworth-Gilda (1946)

The sassy girl nightclub singer Gilda ( Rita Hayworth)  wore a black strapless gown  while singing “Put the Blame on Mame.” This scene was so iconic that the name Gilda was the name in-scripted on the  first nuclear bomb.

Dress as Basic as an Instinct
 Sheron Stone- Basic Instict (1992)
Sharon Stone- Basic Instinct (1992)

Ellen Mirojnick a costume desginer was popular for creating dresses that deffined “powerful woman” in the beginning of the 1990s. The dress that became iconic was the white wool dress Sharon Stone wore in Basic Instinct.

Sources: Glo

Ian Smith

Ian Smith is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News