1. Alexander McQueen’s No.13
The finale of McQueen’s spring/summer 1999 show has already gone down in history as one of the most beautiful, innovative and high concept fashion moments of all time. The simple white dress worn by model Shalom Harlow was spray painted by two robots as she stood on a rotating platform and the robots took an entire week to programme. Pure poetry.
2. The Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian Dress
The iconic dress from YSL’s autumn/winter 1965 collection was inspired by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. The idea of a wool shift dress printed with block primary colours was quickly copied on the high street and became the look of the sixties. It’s the piece the designer is still best known for.
3. Diane Von Furstenberg’s Wrap Dress
The iconic wrap dress was created in 1974. It was the dress that really launched DVF’s career and by 1976 she had sold over a million of her signature dresses, causing Newsweek to label her ‘the most marketable woman since Coco Chanel.’ High praise, indeed.
4. The Hervé Léger Bandage Dress
One of the sexiest dresses of all time, over 20 years have passed since the bandage dress first burst onto the fashion scene and it’s now synonymous with the designer’s name. Sexy, classy and incredibly flattering. A style triumph.
5. Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack Dress
Love it or hate it, the image of Ginger Spice strutting her stuff at the 1997 BRIT Awards is forever burned onto our retinas. Made at the last minute from a tea towel, it’s almost become more famous than the Spice Girl herself. Almost.
6. Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s Narciso Rodriguez Wedding Dress
Carolyn asked pal Narciso Rodriguez (who was working at Cerruti at the time) to design the bias-cut gown she wore to marry JFK Jr. in 1996. It took two three-hour couture fittings in Paris and an estimated $40,000 but the outcome was a simple and sensuous dress that helped set the tone for the ’90s.
7. Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy Dress
It may be obvious to mention Hepburn’s Breakfast At Tiffany‘s dress, but there is no denying what an impact it had. Hubert de Givenchy had been dressing Hepburn since 1953, but it was the creation featured in the 1961 movie that went on to become the most infamous little black dress in fashion and one of the most iconic looks in the history of film.
8. The Bias-Cut Dress
The bias-cut dress was developed in 1927 by Madeleine Vionette when she developed the new technique of cutting across the grain of fabric. By 1930, Hollywood designers had fallen in love with the cut and had made it into a real trend.
9. Mary Katrantzou’s ‘Room’ Collection
Katrantzou’s spring 2011 collection was genius. Having a lampshade for a skirt? Inspired. The range of dresses also solidified the digital print trend that she helped to create.
10. Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ Dress
The sequin-encrusted dress the Hollywood bombshell wore to sing to Happy Birthday to JFK was so tight it was said she had to be sewn into it by her assistants (although we think we can see a zip there). The white halterneck she wore in The Seven Year Itch is arguably more famous, but we think her glittering column gown was more worthy of this list… it was a shocking, sensuous tease to lover JFK and the Kennedy clan. It eventually sold at auction in New York for $1.26 million.
11. Nicole Kidman in Christian Dior By John Galliano
The actress made fashion history by wearing the Chinoiserie chartreuse gown to the Oscars in 1997. At the time, Galliano was the new boy on the scene and Kidman helped not only put his name on the map, but kicked off the whole celebrity-designer muse trend that is so prevalent today.
12. Princess Diana’s Wedding Dress
Designed by Elizabeth Emanuel, the striking dress had a 25-foot train made of 40 yards of silk taffeta. It was totally excessive and copied the world over. The mega-meringue wedding dress trend was born.
13. Princess Diana’s Revenge Dress
We could have written this whole feature based on Diana’s wardrobe. Second to her wedding dress was the iconic ‘revenge’ dress designed by Christina Stambolian that she wore to a party the day Prince Charles publicly admitted he had been having an affair with Camilla. It marked a whole new phase in the royal’s life.
14. Paco Rabanne’s Metal Mini Dress
The chainmail mini dress that featured as a part of his 1967 couture collection was totally ahead of its time.
15. Christopher Kane’s Neon Bandage Dress
Kane’s first collection in 2006 featured super-short neon dresses with Swarovski accoutrements. The lust-worthy dresses launched his career, leading to him win the Young Designer of the Year award in the same year, and kicking off the entire fluro trend in the process. Talk about making an impact.
16. Liza Bruce’s Spaghetti Strap Dress
This dress pretty much sums up the ’90s clubbing scene for us. In December 1994, a young Kate Moss wore a gold barely-there slip dress by Liza Bruce on a photo shoot with I-D magazine. Later that month, she rocked the very same style, in silver, with no bra – for a night out with her fellow super, Naomi Campbell. And a rock and roll party Queen was born.
17. John Galliano’s Bias-Cut Dresses
Galliano redefined the bias-cut dress in the ’90s, making the famous 1930s silhouette absolutely his own. The cut meant the dress sat closely on the model’s figure, and the designer himself once said he used to rub the models before they went onto the catwalk, so the fabric clung to them like a second skin. In 1997, Anna Wintour stated: ‘The bias-cut slip dress really became a symbol of what women wore at night… and that was John, completely John.
18. Uma Thurman Wearing Prada
The Hollywood actress put Prada on the map when she opted to wear one of the fashion house’s creations to the 1995 Oscars. Up until that night the brand was much more low key than it is today.
19. Victoria Beckham’s First Collection
Was this the moment VB ascended from fake-tanned WAG to a bona fide fashion designer? It’s hard to tell, but as soon as the fash pack laid eyes on the star’s debut collection any doubts (and there were major doubts) were laid to rest. Critics used words like ‘beautiful, ‘desirable’ and ‘classy’ to describe the range. And a high-end designer was born.
20. Roland Mouret’s Galaxy Dress
The Galaxy dress needs no explanation. It has been described as the most recognisable dress of the last decade. Launched in the designer’s autumn/winter 2005 collection, it was then spotted on anyone who was anyone. The secret to its success? The lining is made from a tough, stretchy fabric called Powerflex, which seems to help flatter every woman in every shape.
21. Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress
Lady Gaga arrived at the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards wearing a dress made completely from raw meat. Designed by Nicola Formichetti, the creation has since been since been dried, preserved and painted to restore its original raw meat colour. It was a moment we’ll never forget.
22. Rudi Gernreich’s Topless Dress
Rudi’s sixties topless dress completely pushed the boundaries, broke the rules and liberated women.
23. Mary Quant’s Mini Dress
While Rudi Gernreich was exposing breasts (in a totally chic way, of course), Mary Quant was raising hemlines. Mary was responsible for the boundary-crossing mini dresses that were at the forefront of the sixties fashion revolution. She later received an OBE for her efforts, but maintained it was her customers that were really in charge, saying: ‘It was the girls on the King’s Road who invented the mini.
24. The Prom Dress And Trainer
Lily Allen has repeatedly expressed regret at her infamous ‘prom dress with trainers’ phase, but the songstress created her own, much-copied, look, and for that we salute her.