Marilyn is featured in Vogue‘s list of the 20 Most Iconic Dresses in Cinematic History. However, it’s not her ubiquitous white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch that makes the grade, but an earlier style moment.
“Marilyn Monroe’s aphrodisiacal hold over fashion turned up a notch in 1953 when she took the role of Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Her mid-century magnetism hasn’t dimmed in the decades since. The film’s ruling jazz number, ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, sees Monroe in a strapless fuchsia gown by costume designer William Travilla, complete with opera gloves and twinkling jewels. Let’s take a minute to revel in the aesthetic bliss of the scene: that unapologetically shocking pink pitched against the scarlet backdrop, and that eternal twinkle in her eye that you can’t help but fall in love with.”
Interestingly, the list also features another ground-breaking design (from Billy Wilder’s 1948 movie, A Foreign Affair) that pre-empted Marilyn’s most famous offscreen gown, worn when she sang ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ to John F. Kennedy in 1962.
“The modern celebrity love affair with the ‘naked’ dress (championed by everyone from Cher to Rihanna and Beyoncé) began with one of Hollywood’s earliest adopters, Marlene Dietrich. Nicknamed the ‘illusion’ dress for its faux-nude effect, this silver-screen moment was so influential that it continues to impact fashion more than 70 years later. The brains behind it? Progressive costume designer Edith Head.”