JAN BROGAN - At my book group Christmas party each year we all have to bring a book we've already read and wrap it up for a Yankee swap. The swap last year reduced me to quite a bit of scheming to grab and then hold onto a book that caught my attention.
Yes, I was willing to play dirty to get Fifty Dresses That Changed The World -- from the Design Museum. Once I got it home and actually read it, I had to laugh. Nabbed by book title hyperbole. Did I really think that dresses could change the world? Like the UN or Mother Theresa or Adolph Hitler? Still, it's an interesting list of fifty dresses. Maybe not that changed the world, but reflected world changes. Or likely, but not always, changed the fashion world.
At any rate, what attracted me to the book was the cover: Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly wearing that classic "little black dress" with the long black gloves. We all remember that dress, so clearly it had some impact on our world.
But I thought it might be interesting to see if my fellow Reds and our blog readers could guess some of the forty-nine others. Some are really insanely obscure -- which I'm pretty sure means they had no real effect on anything other than the fashion world and probably for a limited amount of time - but others you can probably figure out.
I'll give you some hints. A couple of Oscar awards dresses made the list. A few important wedding dresses (but not Kate Middleton's which came too late for the book) as well as dresses that changed the style we were wearing at the time. At least three are associated with specific designers with names we actually know, and four come from television shows or movies. Some involve new technology, and others reflect a Japanese influence.
Now try to use your actual memories before going straight to Google. (And no googling the actual book, that's cheating!)
RHYS: One that immediately comes to mind--Marilyn Monroe's dress with the skirt blowing up.Jacqueline Kennedy was such a fashion icon that her look had to be part of a list. Dior's "new look" after World War II. And since my new book features Chanel, I think that the Chanel look, especially the tailored masculine look she invented, definitely changed the world. Presumably Kate Middelton's wedding dress would be part of a future list!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Scarlett O'Hara's curtain dress, maybe? Oh,this is so fascinating. Cher's ridiculous Bob Mackie at the Academy Awards? Princess Diana's wedding dress, certainly. Oh, Grace Kelly's lace-bodiced wedding dress? So there must be an Issey Miyaki, although I never understood those clothes. Gosh, Sharon Stone's Gap outfit at the Oscars? Liza Minelli in red Halston? Diane Keaton in Annie Hall? (But that wasn't a dress.) Michelle Obama's green dress and coat at the inauguration? Twiggy in Mary Quant's mini-dress? Oh, the Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dress! I have a photo of me in that, somewhere, from--1972? Jannie, this is so interesting, I can't wait to hear.
HALLIE EPHRON: There's gotta be an outrageous Rudi Gernreich (of the topless swimsuit) and Pucci (pink psychedelic) from the 60s. Yes Jackie Kennedy's sack dress (with the pillbox hat). Someone must have started the shirtwaist, the June Cleaver look (maybe something Grace Kelly wore?). A mini of Twiggy's? YES, of course, the von Furstenberg wrap dress which is still going strong. The flapper dress (though I don't know which). Remember the maxi look? And of course, a Chanel suit (though it's a suit, not a dress - does that count?) Defniitely Diana's bridal gown, and if that book were coming out now, Pippa's Maid of Honor.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: Hmmm...all the good ones are taken! Lady Gaga's meat dress, Bjork's swan dress at the Oscars, JLo's plunging neckline at the Grammies, Streisand's see-though outfit at the Oscars, the credit card dress from the Oscars, Calvin Klein slipdress, Ally McBeal suit (thinking tv here....)
JAN: So I'm truly impressed by your world-changing-fashion knowledge. Yes, Rhys, Chanel, Marilyn Monroe's 7 Year Itch dress and I'm really blown away you got the "New Look" by Christian Dior after WWII - which if you don't know it - and I wouldn't- looks like one of the dresses Lucille Ball used to wear on I LOVE LUCY with the simple short sleeve top, cinched waist and full skirt three quarters down the calf. Maybe that's what Hallie was thinking of when she mentioned June Cleaver because I think she wore it too.
ALthough Scarlett O'Hara's dress did not make the list (and I think it should have) Hank still gets a bunch of gold stars for guessing Cher's ridiculous Bob Mackie dress at the Oscars, the Halston halterneck dress, Mary Quant's mini-dress and the wrap dress. Hallie gets additional points for Twiggy's mini, the flapper dress, Diana's bridal gown (I think Hank got that one too). While Jackie Kennedy's sack dress and pillbox hat, surprisingly, did not make the list - but another one of her outfits did.
And Ro, congrats on the Calvin Klein slip dress!
Everyone else, put on your thinking caps. There are still are few more that you might guess including another Oscar gown, two more from television and a wedding dress or two.
Answers will be announced on the comments page later today! And tomorrow I'm going to preempt our regularly scheduled programming to post pictures of some of these dresses.