Skip to main content
Updated date:

13 Iconic Red Dresses in Cinema History

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.

Nicole Kidman, "Moulin Rouge!" (2001)

Nicole Kidman starred as Satine in the Baz Lurhman jukebox romance musical Moulin Rouge! (2001), stealing the show with not only her musical numbers but dazzling costumes. She wore this absolutely stunning red silk satin gown with a corset bodice and deep V neckline, showcasing her gorgeous figure. The striking shade of red matched her fiery hair, and she wore the dress during the "Elephant Love Medley" scene in the film. With her porcelain skin, cascading curls and bold lip, Kidman completely stole the show.

Vivien Leigh, "Gone with the Wind" (1939)

Heavily regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, 1939's Gone with the Wind introduced the world to the iconic and lovely Scarlett O'Hara. Portrayed by the talented and beautiful Vivien Leigh, Scarlett wore jaw-droppingly gorgeous outfits in the film. The costumes were created by John Frederics and Walter Plukett, including this famous scene-stealing red dress worn by Scarlett. The velvet embroidered dress featured glass beads and accentuated her figure, and had a plunging sweetheart neckline and burgundy ostrich feathers. The gown and scene truly stole the show, and Leigh looked gorgeous.

Keira Knightley, "Anna Karenina" (2012)

The greatly talented Keira Knightley portrayed the titular character in 2012's Anna Karenina, rocking some seriously stunning ensembles. The crimson gown worn at the party scene was meant to make Knightley stand out from the crowd, and boy did it! The dress was actually made of two pieces, with the bodice cut short in the front and a long bustle train and full skirt in the back. With off-the-shoulder straps, statement pearl necklace and earrings and bold feather headpiece, Knightley truly looked ravishing in red.

Julia Roberts, "Pretty Woman" (1990)

Julia Roberts shot to stardom when she portrayed the free-spirited prostitute Vivian Ward in 1990's Pretty Woman. When down-on-her-luck Vivian meets wealthy businessman Edward Lewis, he hires her to be his escort for the week and their romance (and her personal style) blossoms. For the iconic night out at the opera scene, Roberts wore this elegant red off-the-shoulder gown that featured a sweetheart neckline and drape tie at the hips. With her matching crimson red hair and the iconic diamond necklace, Vivian truly was the epitome of rags-to-riches.

Winona Ryder, "Beetlejuice" (1988)

A little less glamorous than the other entries on this list but iconic in its own right, Winona Ryder wore this red ruffled wedding dress as Lydia in Beetlejuice (1988). The Gothic gown and veil featured plenty of lace and layers, as well as sheer sleeves and voluminous ruffles. Ryder wore this famous dress during the scene when her character almost marries Beetlejuice, and has since become a staple Halloween costume. The wacky and unique ensemble is synonymous with Lydia and is a fun spin on the classic red dress.

Audrey Hepburn, "Funny Face" (1957)

Audrey Hepburn was no stranger to the fashion game, and the beloved actress was known for her statement-making ensembles both on-screen and off. She was a true style chameleon and could pull off any look, just like she effortlessly did in 1957's Funny Face. The floor length evening silk gown with a column silhouette and strapless neckline looked elegant on the regal Hepburn, and the organza shawl added an extra touch of flair. With her sleek black hair pulled into a classy up-do, glamorous white opera gloves and bold jewelry, Hepburn was the epitome of chic and sophistication.

Rachel Leigh Cook, "She's All That" (1999)

Move over, little black dress and make way for the little red one! Rachel Leigh Cook was the girl of your 90s dreams when she wore this crimson spaghetti strap dress in 1999's She's All That. In the famous "transformation" scene of the film, Cook's character Laney rocks the little red dress that was both simple and chic. She paired the outfit with matching heels and ruby drop earrings. Her chin-length hairstyle and minimal makeup really completed the look, and there's a reason the red dress scene has gone down in cinema history.

Read More From Reelrundown

Jessica Rabbit, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (1988)

Renowned as one of the best-known animated sex symbols of all time, Jessica Rabbit is famous for being a feisty-red headed female human toon temptress. Known for her crazy curves and sultry voice, Jessica Rabbit wore a body hugging sparkling red strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline and thigh high slit. She also wore purple opera gloves and her hair in loose curls to complete the outfit. For 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, animator Richard Williams and director Robert Zemeckis based the character off of various actresses. He once mused, "I tried to make her like Rita Hayworth; we took hair from Veronica Lake, and Zemeckis kept saying, "What about the look Lauren Bacall had?" He later described the combination as an, "ultimate male fantasy, drawn by a cartoonist."

Alicia Silverstone, "Clueless" (1995)

"As if" you can get more iconic than Alicia Silverstone's red mini cocktail dress she wore in 1995's Clueless! Silverstone's character Cher wore a wide array of memorable and fabulous ensembles in the film, and truly started a style movement. The A-line silhouette and halter neckline paired perfectly with Silverstone's blonde tresses, and her strappy red heels further complimented the outfit. The costume designer for Clueless was Mona May and the film went on to have a massive influence on fashion trends.

Kate Winslet, "Titanic" (1997)

1997's epic romance Titanic propelled leads Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into superstardom, and went on to gross more than $2 billion and win a whopping 11 Academy Awards. In the ground-breaking film, Winslet portrayed socialite Rose DeWitt Bukater, a young woman forced into a marriage of convenience. In Titanic, the character wore some of the most gorgeous costumes to ever grace the silver screen. Jack and Rose first met when the latter was wearing this stunning black and red embellished and embroidered evening gown. With a deep crimson satin bodice and black lace top, the dress had cap sleeves and an intricate three layer skirt. The "jump" gown is truly iconic and looked stunning on Winslet.

Grace Kelly, "Dial M for Murder" (1954)

Grace Kelly was a talented actress and famous fashion icon, known for her many memorable looks both in film and real-life. Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder (1954) featured numerous style moments by Kelly, one of which being this sophisticated red lace dress. The garment had a corset bustier top, off-the-shoulder neckline with half sleeves, and an A-line skirt. The lace sleeves were chic and classy and the dress really showed off Kelly's beauty. The bold red color paired perfectly with her soft blonde hair and matching lip, and the actress looked both demure and sexy all at the same time.

Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953)

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell stunned in these sexy red sequin dresses in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). The floor length body hugging gown featured a sheath silhouette, plunging neckline, thigh-high slit and long sleeves. The red sequin dress was designed by William Travilla, and both Marilyn and Jane looked absolutely gorgeous in the garment. Draped in diamonds galore, the pair effortlessly pulled off the risqué look and the shade complimented both Marilyn's platinum blonde hair and Jane's raven tresses.

Cameron Diaz, "The Mask" (1994)

Cameron Diaz made her feature-film debut in 1994's The Mask, where her on-screen introduction as Tina Carlyle made just as big of a splash. When she enters the New York bank Stanley (Jim Carrey) works at, she's sopping wet from the rain and bends down to fix her stiletto. Wearing a curve-hugging red midi dress with a thigh-high slit and spaghetti straps, Diaz looks seductive and sultry in the form-fitting number. With her blonde tresses tousled and wearing a delicate necklace and earrings, the actress was absolutely captivating in her debut role and cemented her title as a blonde bombshell.

References

Red Satin costume from the movie Moulin Rouge. (n.d.). Collection.maas.museum. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://collection.maas.museum/object/383441

Reynaud, F. (2020, November 6). The secrets behind Vivien Leigh’s red dress in “Gone with the Wind.” Vogue Paris. https://www.vogue.fr/fashion-culture/article/red-dress-vivien-leigh-gone-with-the-wind

© 2021 Rachel M Johnson

Related Articles