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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Blank stares: White dresses that turned heads in pop culture

From Marilyn Monroe to Michelle Obama, women in white seem to have captured our fancy.

fashion-and-trends Updated: Sep 07, 2019 14:59 IST
Rachel Lopez
Rachel Lopez
Hindustan Times
Marilyn Monroe, in The Seven Year Itch and the dress that made history.
Marilyn Monroe, in The Seven Year Itch and the dress that made history.

1955: Marilyn Monre’s dress, designed by William Travilla, billowing as she stood on a grate on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street in New York, is all anyone remembers of The Seven Year Itch.

1964: Audrey Hepburn’s Eliza Doolittle polishes herself up in My Fair Lady, leaving audiences salivating over her many dresses, including a tight, dramatic white one.

1977: No one thinks of Star Wars for its costumes. But Princess Leia’s uniform (below) stands out – it’s an easier Halloween costume than the gold bikini.


1984: No one quite knew what to make of Madonna’s white, over-accessorised, part-bridal-part-corset ensemble. It will forever be associated with Like a Virgin. Closer home actor Jeetendra rocked while like a pro.

1981: Rekha (below), resplendent in a shiny white anarkali, bedecked in jewels and eyes thickly lined, sets a new standard for Indian sexiness in Umrao Jaan.


1989: Sridevi wears all-white in several scenes and songs in the hit film, Chandni, a look she’d repeat off-screen throughout her career, inspiring other actresses and fans.

1992: Sharon Stone crossed those legs in Basic Instinct, and just like that, what she was NOT wearing was as important as what she was.

1997: Rendezvous With Simi Garewal debuts on TV, featuring Garewal, dressed in pristine white, interviewing the biggest celebrities of the time.

Simi Garewal, with one of her guests, actor Saif Ali Khan.
Simi Garewal, with one of her guests, actor Saif Ali Khan.

2008: Whitney Houston wore a version of an Eugene Alexander dress on the cover of Time. But it’s only when Sarah Jessica Parker wore in the first Sex And The City film, prancing around New York as Carrie Bradshaw, that people noticed, and adored it.

2009: The floaty white gown, a gift from designer Jason Wu, brought in a relaxed, fresh approach to how the First Lady dresses. Michelle Obama (below) wore it to the Inaugural Ball. It now stands in the Smithsonian museum.


2012: Never shy of adopting a new look, Gwyneth Paltrow wore a Tom Ford dress to the Oscars, and kick-started fashion’s current obsession with cape dresses.

2015: At the Oscars, all eyes were on Lupita Nyong’o in a Calvin Klein gown adorned with 6,000 pearls. It was stolen from her hotel room two days later and found on the property 48 hours later, in a garbage bag.

2015: Do you see white and gold or blue and black? This Roman Originals dress (below) that went viral has spawned fakes, endless tweets, colour perception studies and charity auctions.


2019: At the State of the Union address, more than 40 American Democrats, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wore white as a nod to the American suffragette movement and as a sign of solidarity with the fight for gender equality.

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First Published: Sep 06, 2019 21:45 IST