Saturday, 7 April 2012

My Favourite Gowns from Classic Hollywood...

Here are just a few of my favourite gowns from that age where nothing was more glamorous than Hollywood and it's leading ladies.

First up, Elizabeth Taylor wearing Edith Head's white tulle evening gown with floral bust from A Place In The Sun (1951). This was copied by department stores across the US, and was a big hit during prom season.

Elizabeth Taylor wearing Edith Head's grecian style evening gown in Elephant Walk (1954).

No list would be credible wiithout some of Marilyn Monroe's best dresses designed by the brilliant William Travilla. My favourite Marilyn dress is her dark pink number from the film How To Marry A Millionaire (1953).

One of Marilyn's most famous dresses is her bright pink one from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) when she performs' Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend.' Although this dress is gorgeous, I believe her bright orange dress and her gold gown (which you only see the back of in the movie because it was believed to be too revealing) are much more beautiful.

Next up in Marilyn's envious collection of gowns, are the tiger dress and the infamous white halter neck dress from The Seven Year Itch (1955), again designed by William Travilla. One thing I have noticed is that so many people mimic Marilyn and the other great stars who wore such beautiful gowns, but nobody wore the dresses like them.

And the last of Marilyn's gowns are two from There's No Business Like Showbusiness  (1954)- her outfits in this film have received the same iconic status in fashion as her other gowns, but they are equally as gorgeous and spectacular, total credit to Travilla! Also here is her unbelievably sexy pink dress from Niagara (1953), a dress that sent people's hearts racing for the first time when Marilyn's stardom was just beginning to take off.

The dresses so far have been from the 1950s, now to have a splash of 1940s Hollywood glamour, and who is more perfect to look at than Rita Hayworth and her to-die-for wardrobe in Gilda (1946). Not just her 'Put the Blame on Mame' black, strapless, satin number, but her nightgown, her two-piece ensemble she wears when performing 'Amado Mio,' and her white/light blue? satin gown she wears when living with Glenn Ford. 

The last of Rita's costumes that I adore are the ones she wore in the musical You Were Never Lovelier (1942). They are not her most famous, but they really are beautiful designs, involving some of the most glamorous looking materials that simply hug Rita's slender figure, making her appear like a true goddess.

 Two more gowns from the 1940s could not be more different. One is Ava Gardner's famous one shoulder black/navy velvet dress that she wore to become a notorious femme fatale in the film noir The Killers (1946). Figure-hugging, and eye-catching, the gown was a show-stopper in the movie, and helped cement Ava as one of the biggest sex symbols of the decade. The second dress is the wonderful red Christmas gown Judy Garland wore in the beloved musical Meet Me In St. Louis (1944). Me and my sister wanted this dress for our barbies when we were little, but now I'd just love it myself.

 Now what list would be complete without the effortlessly elegant Grace Kelly, and the gowns she wore in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954) and To Catch A Thief (1955). In Rear Window, Grace plays one of the most stylish ladies in New York high society, and much like Liz Taylor's similar character in A Place In The Sun, Edith Head had to ensure that Grace was in gown's that were at the height of fashion. My favourite of these was the first dress we see her in, a classic white and black ensemble, finished with pearls, white gloves, and handbag - Grace looked immaculate.

The second gown of Grace's that I love, that features in To Catch A Thief, is not the white strapless chiffon evening gown, but the blue grecian style evening gown. This is probably my favourite dress out of all the dresses. Grace has a gorgeous golden tan in this film, and against the beautiful blue of the dress, she looks absolutely gorgeous - a real Helen of Troy.

Although all of these actresses and their gowns are iconic and seen as the epitome of style and glamour, none are more iconic than Audrey Hepburn and her wardrobe in Sabrina (1954) and Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). Although Edith Head was credited with the costume designs of Sabrina, and won an Oscar for her work there, the three iconic gowns/outfits of the films that got people talking were designed by Hubert deGivenchy. One of these was the unusually designed white evening gown with black embroidery (forgive me I don't know any design jargon). When Audrey makes her appearance at the Larrabee party in the film wearing this gown, we all fall in love with her.

But of course, Audrey is most memorable for her outfits in Breakfast At Tiffany's. We all remember her character, Holly Golightly, walking down 5th avenue and six o'clock in the morning, in the most elegant black dress we ever saw. She has many lovely outfits in this film, my other favourite being her bright pink cocktail dress - she looks like a princess in this dress, particularly with her tiara.

And finally, last but by no means least - is the earliest of the gowns mentioned. I already written a blogpost for this particular gown, but I have to include it. The scarlet gown that Vivien Leigh wears in Gone With The Wind (1939) is, for me, the greatest of all the movie gowns. With it's ruby studding, scarlet feathers, and stunning design, this dress is breathtaking every time we see it. Designed by Walter Plunkett, this dress is the jewel in the crown for the epic - all of Leigh's costumes are spectacular, but none quite match the magnificence and majesty of this gown.

That's all for now folks! I know there are many wonderful gowns in old Hollywood pictures worn by Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and all the other actresses, but these are my personal favourites, the ones I want in my wardrobe, and the ones that take my breath away every time.


  1. LOVE this post! Every single one of these are beautiful dresses and personal favorites of mine as well. Outfits are half the fun of watching movies and these gowns just made the movies that they're in even more memorable and special. Happy Easter!

    1. Aww thank you :) And I'm so glad you agree with my choices! Happy Easter to you too! x

  2. Hi there Claudia! Now that's what I'm talking about : gowns! Love all your picks, but my faves are :
    -Marilyn Monroe's see-through dress in "Some like it hot", it could only have been worn by her! Apparently, she was pregnant while making the film and so the costume couldn't be tied at the back, so they left the back of the dress as it was!

    -Jean Harlow's dress in "Public Enemy" when she has that monologue and hugs James Cagney while stroking his face. I've always had a fascination for 1930s gowns, they had the most luscious patterns and slick trains, and it must have felt unbelievable to feel that cloth against their skin!

    -Carole Lombard's dress at the beginning of "To Be or not to be" during the rehearsal of the play! So inappropriate for the play but love it!

    -Bette Davis' dress in "Now Voyager" when she finds back Jerry after coming home. It's a white gown with camelias attached to it, with that great updo!

    -Grace Kelly's lace red gown at the beginning of Dial M For Murder : red for a passionate fiery icy blonde and lace to make it classy and chic, LOVE IT! Mymom literally drooled at that dress!

    1. Thanks Steph! I don't know why but I really don't like the see-through dresses Sugar Cane wears... the black one is okay, but I don't really like them. Yeh Harlow's dress is gorgeous in Public Enemies - you can see why Scorcese got designer's to copy that dress for Gwen Stefani when she portrayed Harlow in The Aviator! Bette Davis' dress is really stunning, and only she could made it look that good, it was perfect for her. The Lombard dress I'm not really fussed on. As for Grace's red dress, it is lovely, but again I wasn't keen on it, I thought it wasn't too flattering on the bust, made Grace look a bit too skinny. But we all think differently!

  3. Wonderful post Claudia! I agree every single dress you have listed are very beautiful and I would also want in my wardrobe. One I absolutely adore is the white satin gown Jean Harlow wears in Dinner at Eight. It's simple but very stunning.

    1. Ooooh good shout on the Harlow dress! Can't believe I forgot that one! You're right it's very simple but super elegant, and very Harlow. Thanks for commenting :D