A history of the red dress
- Next1 of 13Glo
- Previous Next2 of 13Valentino S/S12: Imaxtree
- Previous Next3 of 13Princess Diana, 1995: Tim Graham/Getty Images
- Previous Next4 of 13Chinese Newlywed, 2010: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
- Previous Next5 of 13Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: Buena Vista Pictures/Photofest
- Previous Next6 of 13Nancy Reagan, 1991: Dirck Halstead/Getty Images
- Previous Next7 of 13Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face: Paramount Pictures/Photofest
- Previous Next8 of 13Marilyn Monroe, 1955: Gene Lester/Getty Images
- Previous Next9 of 13Jessica Rabbit, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: Buena Vista Pictures/Photofest
- Previous Next10 of 13The Scarlet Letter: Photofest
- Previous Next11 of 13Louis XIV, 1701: Universal History Archive/Getty Images
- Previous Next12 of 13Mary Queen of Scots, 1587: Stapleton Collection/Corbis
- Previous Next13 of 13SSPL/Getty Images
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Couture Color2 of 13
No one does red like Italian designer Valentino Garavani, whose signature heady hue is a mix of magenta, yellow and a dash of black. His premier red creation—a cocktail dress with a skirt of tulle roses named Fiesta—debuted in his first collection in 1959. In 2011, the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum was launched, allowing an insider's look into the couture designer's past 40 years of making fashion history.
Shall We Dance?3 of 13
Princess Diana wore red suits, ski outfits, hats and maternity dresses. Her penchant for the shade is legendary, so much so that the royal style icon mistook the song Lady in Red to be about her, (Singer Chris de Burgh later clarified that he wrote it for his own wife, Diane.)
Joy Luck Club4 of 13
The color red holds strong in Chinese cultural history, as this fiery color is associated with bringing happiness and good fortune. Unlike the Western view of this color and its use in costume, red is the traditional color of a bride's wedding dress in China.
Pretty Woman5 of 13
Julia Roberts' iconic red silk opera gown in Pretty Woman was nearly—gasp!—made in black. Costume designer Marilyn Vance fought the studio to put the then-22-year-old actress in arresting red for the ultimate street-to-society makeover.
Power Player6 of 13
Always a fan of fashion and a symbol of the '80s, Nancy Reagan often wore red, so much so that the term "Reagan red" was coined during the Reagan administration.
The LRD7 of 13
Never underestimate the red factor. In Funny Face, Audrey Hepburn prances down the steps of the Louvre in a show-stopping silk confection by Hubert de Givenchy. "I like pink," the actress once said, but the rich red Givenchy dress played off her fair skin and dark hair for a dramatic effect on film.
Red Hot8 of 13
During the 1950s, fashion looked to Spain for style inspiration, and rich ruby became the "it" color—often worn with matching red lipstick. Liz Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and Ava Gardner all favored the shade that accentuated their curves. In 1953's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell impersonate human stop signs in sexy sequined red gowns.
Drawing Attention9 of 13
The 1930s and animator Max Fleischer brought us Betty Boop, the little minx with saucer eyes and a strapless fire engine–red minidress that featured a heart-shaped neckline. Jessica Rabbit of 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit? carried on the sexpot cartoon tradition in her sequined red gown with a dangerous side slit.
Scarlet Stigma10 of 13
After the publication of Nathaniel Hawthorne's famous tale of adulteress Hester Pryne and her scarlet A in 1850, the color took on scandalous connotations. Society girls quickly opted for a softer hue of pink.
Something's Afoot11 of 13
Louis XIV, the French king known for his love of shapely legs, painted the heels of his man pumps red to bring attention to his calves, and a trend was born. A couple centuries later, shoe guru Christian Louboutin was inspired to create red soles after watching a girl paint her nails vermillion.
Blood Red12 of 13
Mary Queen of Scots, known for her long auburn tresses, wore a startling scarlet dress beneath a black cloak to her execution in 1587. Even her petticoats were red. Why the festive look? Because red is the color of martyrs.
First Blush13 of 13
Red's supremacy can be traced to its exclusivity. The very first crimson dye—derived from a Mexican bug known as a cochineal—was discovered by Spaniards in the 1500s and became the main export to the New World. It took 70,000 insects to make a pound of the coveted dye.
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