10 Dresses that Changed the World

Liz Hurley

amazing women dressThe item: safety-pin dress

Until the moment she was draped on then-boyfriend Hugh Grant’s arm at the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral in 1994, Elizabeth Hurley was pretty much an unknown. But when she stepped on to the red carpet in a flurry of flashbulbs in that black Gianni Versace dress held together with oversized, gold, strategically placed safety pins, she was an instant star. The dress is probably Versace’s best-known creation, received global coverage in newspapers and magazines around the world and made him a household name.

Hurley said, “That dress was a favour from Versace because I couldn’t afford to buy one. His people told me they didn’t have any evening wear, but there was one item left in their press office. So I tried it on and that was it. Unlike many other designers, Versace designs clothes to celebrate the female form rather than eliminate it.”

Jennifer Lopez

jennifer lopez without braThe item: plunging sheer green Versace dress, Grammy Awards, 2000

J.Lo made jaws drop when she attended the 42nd Grammys award show in a plunging sheer silk chiffon green Versace gown. Designed by Donatella Versace, it is a see-through dress with a tropical leaf pattern and bamboo, and a studded crotch. The dress had a low-cut neck that extended several inches below her navel, where it was loosely fastened with a sparkly brooch and then opened out again, exposing her midriff, and was cut along the front of the legs like a bath robe. Only afterwards was it revealed that Lopez was able to keep the dress on using double-sided tape.

Images of Lopez in the green dress were downloaded from the Grammy website 642,917 times in just 24 hours. Jen said, “It was a nice dress. I had no idea it was going to become such a big deal.” Donatella Versace later revealed that the dress was the turning point of her career because the media now had confidence in her work after the death of her brother, Gianni.

Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton DressesThe item: wedding dress

Two billion people tuned in to catch the royal wedding in April 2011 and the big question was, ‘what will she wear?’. Fashion critics had been waiting with bated breath to find out not only who the privileged designer of the dress would be, but also what the gown – which had been shrouded in secrecy and security for weeks – would look like. And it certainly did not disappoint. Designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, it was made from French Chantilly lace, English Cluny lace and ivory and white satin gazar. The dress was made to resemble an opening flower and design details included individual hand-cut flowers decorating the bodice and nine-foot train.

Pippa Middleton

pippa middleton outfitsThe item: bridesmaid’s dress

It was unlikely she would outshine her sister, the blushing bride, but Pippa Middleton in that bridesmaid’s dress certainly came close. The slinky white cowl-necked Sarah Burton design showed off her slender figure, while the cap sleeves kept it youthful. The back of the dress was studded with tiny silk-covered buttons and landed Pippa with the nickname Her Royal Hotness, as two billion-watchers worldwide envied her bottom!

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe outfitsThe item: white halter-neck dress

The white halter-neck dress that Marilyn Monroe wore in the 1955 movie ‘The Seven Year Itch’ is a movie classic. The dress was created by costume designer William Travilla and was worn in that famous scene, where Monroe stands above a subway grating as the dress blows up around her shoulders. And it showed off Marilyn’s flirtatious nature to a T!


celebrities in braThe item: pink cone bra

During her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, Madonna revealed some of the most ambitious outfits of her career. This show-stopping pink cone bra ensemble, designed by her frequent fashion collaborator Jean-Paul Gaultier, remains one of the Queen of Pop’s most infamous looks. Madonna has changed her look countless times over the past 30 years, this is one signature look she will always be famous for. She popularized the gravity-defying underwear during her tour, igniting a lingerie-as-outerwear trend that is still going strong more than 20 years later. Just take a look at Lady Gaga.

Geri Halliwell

geri halliwell hotThe item: Union Jack dress

Victoria Beckham may be the fashion designer of the Spice Girls but Geri was the fashion icon in her Union Jack dress at the 1997 Brit Awards. The black Gucci mini dress which Geri was given to perform in concerned her, as she thought it was too “boring”. She decided she wanted to “celebrate being British”, so she asked her sister to stitch on a Union Jack tea towel to the front as a patriotic gesture. Images of the dress made the front page of newspapers around the world; it’s now remembered as one of the iconic pop moments of the 1990s. In 1998, a year after Ginger Spice Geri performed in the dress, she auctioned it off for £41,320. Not bad for a tea towel …

Kylie Minogue

kylie minogue hotThe item: gold hotpants

Kylie Minogue really set pulses racing when she stepped out in a tiny pair of gold lame hot pants for the video to promote her comeback single, ‘Spinning Around’, in 2000. She was 32 when she wore the iconic shorts but the eternally youthful Aussie managed to pull off a look that gave rebirth to the shorts of the ‘60s. The bum-skimming, figure hugging shorts were later insured for a whopping £1million after they were deemed an important part of pop history – even though her stylist William Baker picked them up at a London market for 50p!

Audrey Hepburn

audrey hepburn picsThe item: Little Black Dress

Audrey Hepburn’s Little Black Dress and pearls from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ encapsulates the best of old school Hollywood glamour. Designed by Givenchy, Audrey wore the elegant gown in the opening scene of the 1961 romantic comedy. The dress is cited as one of the most iconic items of clothing in the history of the 20th century and perhaps the most famous “little black dress” of all time. In the film, Audrey sets it off perfectly with a matching pair of elbow-length black gloves and pearls.


bjork outfitsThe item: swan dress

Not all famous outfits are famous for the right reasons. Some are just outright bizarre and Bjork’s infamous ‘swan’ dress – designed by Marjan Pejoski – definitely falls in to that category. It holds the dubious honour of regularly topping ‘Worst Dress’ polls and Bjork’s bizarre decision to dress as a swan to attend the Academy Awards back in 2001 has definitely earned her a place in the fashion history books – for all the wrong reasons.


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