Iconic red and pink dresses
Feb 11, 2015 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
Valentine’s Day is creeping its way up the calendar and you know what that means – a world flooded with red and pink hues. Now I have no issue with this color palette (as my hair will attest to!), so I decided to use it for inspiration. I love everything about retro movies, but perhaps one of the best things is the fashion. Let’s be honest, good costumes can take a film from ordinary to over-the-top. So I offer my list of beloved iconic red and pink dresses for your consideration. Tell me – what are some of your favorites?
Burgundy Ball Gown | Gone with the Wind
We all have a little Scarlett O’Hara in us and there are days when I wish I could wear her dresses as well as channel her signature sass. While I will always admire the green curtain dress, the burgundy ball gown took my breath away when I saw it at the Harry Ransom Center.
This gown and the the thousands of other costumes were designed by Walter Plunkett. Plunkett was known for his attention to detail and focus on historical pieces. In fact, he spent time in the South before the movie began so he could research wardrobe and culture. For Scarlett, it was hyper-critical that each outfit convey her emotions and Plunkett was just the man for the job.
His big break came from a friendship with Katharine Hepburn. She enjoyed his work for “Little Women” so much that she wanted to use him exclusively for her next role in “Mary of Scotland.” These two films solidified his desire to work on period pieces and when Hepburn took an interest in the role of Scarlett in 1936, she recommended he read “Gone with the Wind.” The rest, they say, is history.
The drama Plunkett conveyed with this burgundy creation perfectly echoed Scarlett’s powerhouse entry sequence. Ostrich feathers and silk velvet set with jeweled and glass beads. That’s the most opulent sentence I’ve heard in a while, if I do say so myself! Plunkett weighted the train to make it flow just right and it’s that attention to detail that inspired such dedication during its restoration. Now you may be asking yourself – just how accurate were Plunkett’s visions of the old South? Well because the internet can be a good and wonderful place – there’s a blog that addresses just that very question.
The Pink Gown | Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
A sultry songstress uttering “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” – who can forget this movie moment? The song, the dashing gents, and the way the choreography sways and sizzles. Diamonds may be considered a girl’s best friend, but the genius behind this dress was Marilyn’s real life friend: William Travilla. He dressed her for eight of her films (including that white hot number in “The Seven Year Itch”). Nearly every gown in this film pushed the censors’ buttons and the pink number actually came about as a way to tone down the original, racier idea.
This stunning pink dress was satin and strapless, but the construction was much more complex than it may appear on the surface. The director had a clear vision of how the dress should look, and move with the music, to create the seductive environment. The sleek gown was meant to showcase the outline of Marilyn’s body and move without wrinkling. To achieve this effect, Travilla glued the silk onto felt to stiffen it.
In fact, this film brought us both colors on our list – I love these red showgirl-esque outfits that the gals rocked. Don’t you?
Pink Party Dress | Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The friendship between Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn is legendary. Granted that little black dress in the opening scene of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is a show stopper, but I’d like to draw attention to this hot pink beauty. When you think about this film, Holly Golightly’s wardrobe is largely neutral and this feels like a breath of fresh air. I never thought about the lack of color in her wardrobe until I read this post.
It’s curious to consider that when Holly dons this gown she’s just snagged her big fish – José da Silva Pereira – the rich Brazilian. By all accounts, life is on the upswing. But by the end of the night she receives devastating news, her dear brother Fred has died. A confused José stands by as Holly trashes her apartment in a flurry of noise and feathers from her pillow. That scene where she lies, weeping in a cloud of white fuzz, contrasted with her pink glowing dress, is powerful. A rosy dress, accented with green rhinestones, marks the shift in Holly’s life and her ultimate romantic reconciliation with Paul.
We all know a great dress can set the tone, but this makes me want to re-watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and analyze the use of color in the story. Who’s with me? In fact, now that I think of it, the only other occasion when Holly is in a non-neutral is during her adventurous date with Paul. She skips around New York in an orange coat (by Givenchy, naturally), playing in the city and even entering the hallowed ground of Tiffany’s itself. The seeds of love are planted and you can definitely see the giddiness in their eyes. Do you find yourself wearing color on days when you have big plans?
Cause A Frockus would like to thank the people who post their images to the public domain, the above-referenced links and two dress moments that didn’t make the list: Glinda’s gown in Wizard of Oz and the red number from Funny Face.
For our readers: What film costumes stand out in your mind and how do you think color is used to convey tone in movies?