It is not very often that a dress transcends its position as simply beautiful, flattering or wearable to become truly iconic. There are undoubtedly a few conditions that need to be in place first: a truly enigmatic and charismatic woman wearing it, it might feature in a film or at a big public event, it needs to be widely circulated on social media or, before the advent of Internet image sharing, to be discussed and dissected by the biggest trendsetters and publishers. We’ve collated some of the most popular and famous dresses ever to be seen that have gone down in fashion history.
1) Marilyn Monroe’s white dress
Images of Marilyn wearing this dress have been printed, re-printed, recreated and circulated many, many times. The dress itself is not particularly exciting or adventurous: it is a basic halterneck dress in a clean white hue with a pleated skirt. This dress’ iconic status is thanks more to the woman wearing it and the part it plays in the film she was shooting. Marilyn Monroe is one of the best-loved actresses of all time, effortlessly glamourous, likeable thanks to her slick wit and humble origins and ridiculously charming and irreverent. She wore the dress in the film The Seven Year Itch allowing the light and floaty material to blow right up whilst standing over a subway grill in New York. Marilyn laughs all the way, making this an image and a dress that has endured for decades afterwards, especially because she died at such a young age.
2) Audrey Hepburn’s LBD
Everyone knows the power of a good Little Black Dress in helping you to create a sophisticated and polished look. The look had been around for many years before Audrey Hepburn wore her Hubert de Givenchy number in Breakfast at Tiffany’s but her dress took the style to iconic new lengths. The long hemline with a slim, figure-flattering cut, finished with jewels at the neckline is a classic and refined look that spawned a thousand replicas. Like Marilyn’s white number, the dress is made iconic partially thanks to its cinematic setting: the quiet and eerie New York canyon backdrop and Hepburn’s petite figure gazing into the Tiffany’s boutique, clutching a cup of coffee and a pastry. The dress is inspirational to girls who want to project them as chic and stylish, but may not have the budget (yet) for those much coveted diamonds.
3) Carrie’s tutu dress in Sex and the City
Another dress, another New York setting (what is it about New York and iconography?) This dress became iconic for featuring in the opening credits of all six seasons of hit-television show Sex and the City from 1998 to 2004. Sported by a sassy Sarah Jessica Parker, playing columnist and shoe-obsessive Carrie Bradshaw, this tutu dress was famously purchased from a bargain bin costing $5 by the show’s stylist Patricia Field. Although big designer labels feature in the show, with Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Prada amongst their ranks, it was this dress that become Carrie’s most widely recognisable look. It even reappeared in the film version of the show to the great delight of Sex and the City fans. Shop at Mary Jane Fashion for similar wholesale looks.
4) Lady Gaga’s meat dress
From the moment she burst onto the music and pop culture scene, Lady Gaga was making waves with her inimitable, avant-garde style. From lobsters in her hair, teacup accessories and Alexander McQueen armadillo shoes, Lady Gaga went to new lengths with her dress made entirely from meat steaks and joints, including a matching pair of boots and headpiece. Whilst many decried this as another ploy to receive attention, her aims and motives were purely political: protesting against the discriminatory ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ laws within the American military, Gaga explained to Ellen DeGeneres that ‘if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones’. Whilst in recent years, Lady Gaga has muted down her weird and wacky ensembles, it is this dress that has become the epitome of her experimental forays into fashion.
5) Geri Halliwell Brit Awards 1997
Most young girls who grew up in the nineties were officially obsessed with The Spice Girls. Rallying around the demand for ‘Girl Power’, Posh, Scary, Sporty, Baby and Ginger were an electrifying five-piece who met fans and success wherever they went. The Brit Awards 1997 was the setting for Geri Halliwell’s most iconic dress, which she stormed down the stage in with red go-go boots. The dress originated as a tea towel that she ironed onto an LBD with the help of her sister, with a peace sign affixed onto the back. The dress summed up the celebration of Brit Pop that engulfed the decade and became a pop culture sensation.