Even if you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you still probably recognize these 10 dresses that helped catapult the fashion industry into television and film—wether it’s the iconic, Rebecca Weinberg’s five-dollar tutu worn by Carrie Bradshaw in every episode of Sex and the City or Princess Diana’s ivory silk wedding gown designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel. With fashion and costumes becoming a major aspect of cinematography, let’s take a look back at 10 unforgettable dresses that have graced the silver screen in recent years.
1. Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding dress in the Sex and the City movie.
Fashion has always been a huge aspect of the Sex and the City series (as if anyone could forget Carrie’s obsession with Manolo Blahnik’s shoes.) When it came time for Carrie to get married—and, by that, I mean actually make it to the alter—designers like Dior, Oscar de la Renta, and Carolina Herrera were chomping at the bits to design the dress. Vivian Westwood trumped all with a dress from her Fall 2007 collection. The haute couture dress was so popular that, within hours of the premiere, a knee-length recreation was offered on Net-A-Porter.com. The $9,875 dress, from Vivienne Westwood’s Gold Label, sold out in mere hours. Personally, I am all about originality, but I truly hope that those who bought the recreation didn’t recreate the scene and actually lived happily ever after.
2. Katniss Everdeen’s wedding dress in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Obviously the coolest part of the dress was when Katniss spun in circles of flames to reveal a black mockingjay dress. With a simple lift of her dramatic black wings, Katniss started a revolution—and got every fashionista in the country’s tongue wagging.
Let’s not forget the original dress, though. Costume designer Trish Summerville designed the Swarovski-crystal-covered organza coset under a metal cage. The best movie dresses are not only beautiful, but symbolic. The metal pieces atop the dress represent fire and flames, while the laser-cut feathers at the waist and shoulders are an obvious nod to the Mockingjay. Summerville revealed in interviews that the dress was the brainchild of Tex Saverio in Jakarta. When she stumbled upon his designs long before the films, she saved his information for a “fitting project” and she was right—it is perfect!
3. Blair Waldorf’s wedding dress in Gossip Girl.
Gossip Girl was one of those shows where the level of fashion matched the level of drama—and that’s saying something given how ridiculously volatile a single, incredibly wealthy, friend group could be. After seasons of dating and dumping every man she knew, Blair finally decided to settle down with the arguably sociopathic Chuck Bass—twice. Her first dress was a beautiful white dress, but nothing like this powder blue gown from the Elie Saab Spring 2012 Couture Collection. Queen B wore this shiny blue number, hand-embellished with sequins and hand-made poppies, during the Season 6 finale. Typical to Blair’s unmatched fashion sense, her blue wedding tress—that was designed to be a red carpet gown—fit her perfectly. It added intrigue and uniqueness, while maintaining glamour and tradition—just like the one and only Blair Waldorf.
4. Serena Van der Woodsen’s wedding dress in Gossip Girl.
Obviously GG‘s it girl was not about to be shown up during the season finale. Unlike Blair’s subtle sheath, Serena rocked a gold and white Georges Chakra haute couture gown. Fitted at the top, the drama of the dress starts at the waist. The gold foil acts almost as a train as it sits atop yards of poofy white tulle. An interesting dress choice? Yes. Totally appropriate for Serena? Also, yes.
5. The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress.
The dress heard ’round the world—literally. The wedding alone had 1,900 guests in attendance and tens of millions watched via live stream. Designed by Kate’s fave designer Alexander McQueen, the bodice of the dress incorporated floral motifs. The back was held together with 58 buttons of gazer and organza. The main body of the dress was made in ivory and white satin gazer using fabrics sourced by Sarah Burton. The skirt was designed to echo an opening flower. Kate’s “something blue” was a blue ribbon sewn to the inside of the dress and her “something old” was the lace on the bodice.
Naturally, famous designers like Monique Lhuillier, Romona Keveza, Sophia Tolli, and countless others immediately began designing and producing dresses similar to the royal frock. Personally, I am a big fan of originality. That, and there’s simply no way anyone could wear that dress better.
Granted, this wasn’t in a film or television show, but it was broadcasted and she looked unbelievable. I’m counting it.
6. Margaery Tyrell’s wedding dress in Game of Thrones.
Unlike Sansa’s wedding dress, Margaery’s was light, airy, and beautiful. What one would think was the only silver lining to marrying Joffrey Baratheon, Margaery’s dress isn’t simply gorgeous—it tells a story. The fabric is a linen silk mix with subtle leaf designs woven in. Like the House Tyrell’s sigil, the dress features roses and, more importantly, thorns. To represent Margaery’s growing influence on Joffrey, her crown also featured briar roses with thorns that were slowly growing (and strangling) the antlers of the House Baratheon stag. While the back of the dress tumbles down in hand-made roses, the core of the dress features thorns curling around the waist. Just like Margaery’s influence, the dress represents the elegance of danger cloaked in beauty.
(Check out this related post about the design of this and other GoT costumes!)
7. Bella Swan’s wedding dress in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn pt. 1.
Luckily Bella got married before she got pregnant because this astounding form-fitting gown would look a little strange with abnormally-fast growing baby in it. The Carolina Herrera gown was made out of crepe satin and French Chantilly lace. The open-back dress is studded with buttons from neckline to hemline—152 in total. Author Stephenie Meyer and Breaking Dawn director Bill Condon selected the design out of ten sketches and the handmade—or handsmade because it took Carolina Herrera and four seamstresses six months to complete—gown was a custom fit for Kristen Stewart.
8. Queen Elsa’s ice dress from Frozen.
Just because it’s a cartoon dress doesn’t mean it’s not stunning—or that it didn’t require an incredible designer. Frozen Art Director Mike Giaimo brought on designer Jean Gillmore to create a “sumptuous and iconic” look for Elsa’s famous ice dress. Giaimo described the film as “the most elaborate costume-animated CG film to date.”
Like any rational designer that saw the film and realized how incredible Queen Elsa’s dress was, Alfred Angelo designed Disney-themed wedding gowns. He describes his dress as “elegant and powerful, this fairy tale wedding dress glistens like sunlight on freshly fallen snow. A Watteau train and icicle-inspired beading represent Elsa’s independent spirit.” The dress is white, silver, and “ice crystal” and totally looks like Elsa’s gown without being cheesy. Kudos Mr. Angelo, that’s not an easy feat!
(Check out designer Alfred Angelo’s other Disney-themed dresses here!)
9. Jennifer Lopez’s iconic GRAMMY’s dress.
I still can’t believe that this iconic dress was worn fifteen years ago. Jennifer Lopez hasn’t aged a day. The exotic green Versace silk chiffon dress graced the blue carpet at the 42nd Grammy Awards on February 23, 2000. The tropical leaf and bamboo patterned dress received so much press that Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt credited it as the inspiration for Google Images. That makes this one seriously famous dress. The dress, which is currently on display at The GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, made Versace a household name and catapulted Donatella Versace’s career after the death of her brother Gianni. It’s been well over a decade since this dress was worn and it’s still talked about. Look at me! I’m still writing about it!
10. Taylor Swift’s British dress from the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
Only Taylor could fit in perfectly amongst the notorious Victoria’s Secret Angels. She’s performed two years in a row—2013 and 2014—and rocked it both times. During the 2013 show, Swift joined Fallout Boy for their hit “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” at the opening of the show in this very British ensemble. (Miss Universe Contestants—take notes!)
The first segment of the fashion show was titled “British Invasion” and, boy, was it appropriate. Swift invaded the stage in a paint-splattered, one-sleeve, collard Union Jack mini dress with a long train. To top it off (pun intended,) she wore an itty-bitty Union Jack top hat. She joined Fallout Boy halfway through their tune before the song transitioned into her hit “I Knew You Were Trouble”—super appropriate given that she was all kinds of trouble when she walked in.