100 Unforgettable Dresses by Hal Rubenstein – A Review

Do you remember the iconic safety pin dress that launched Elizabeth Hurley’s career and upstaged Hugh Grant at his own premiere? Or the gorgeous peacock green Jungle dress made by Donatella Versace, worn by Jennifer Lopez with the split right down to her navel? How about Lady Gaga wowing audiences at the Grammys in a Giorgio Armani Privi creation that looked like spun sugar? If you do then this is the perfect coffee table book for you and don’t you dare buy it in paperback! What I love the most about this book is the story behind each dress. From the design point of view, to the creation of it, to who wanted to wear it to the reaction of the media and public. It is not just a book with pretty clothes in it, far from it. It has notes from the designers and wonderful inside stories from the models and actresses who wore the dresses. Here are a few tasters from the book.

Safety Pin Gown – Gianni Versace – 1994Safety Pin Gown – Gianni Versace – 1994

Rubenstein asks you to name five Elizabeth Hurley films of which many people cannot. But we can all recall the iconic dress she wore which threw her instantly to the medias attention. She wore it to her fiance – Hugh Grant’s – film premiere ‘Four Weddings and A Funeral’ and completely stole the show. Versace, when asked if the dress was risk free and was there a chance that Ms Hurley might be arrested for indecent exposure commented, “There was never any danger, that’s why you call them safety pins my dear!”

Ming Vase Gown – Robert Cavalli – 2005Ming Vase Gown – Robert Cavalli – 2005

Robert Cavalli says “I don’t really understand minimalism. It’s so polite and boring. If you don’t want anyone to notice you, you should stay home and grow vegetables.” No wonder Victoria Beckham chose this dress, modelled on the classic Ming Vase to wear to her chum Elton John’s Annual White Tie & Tiara Charity Ball in 2005. Apparently, in order to make the dress look more like a vase she asked Cavalli for the bottom to be taken in so much that she could not sit down in it. She therefore stood throughout the entire ball.

Yellow Chiffon Gown – Jean Desses – c. 1955Yellow Chiffon Gown – Jean Desses – c. 1955

This beautiful vintage gown was worn by Renee Zellweger to the Oscars in 2001. The Egyptian born Desses made his name first by working with jersey then moved on to chiffon in the late 50’s where his gowns were most sought after. Renee encapsulates Hollywood glamour by wearing her hair down in a carefree way, bringing the gown bang up to date despite it being over 50 years old. Her usual choice for the red carpet was designer Caroline Herrera but she looked stunning in this vintage canary yellow.

Available from amazon.com for $35 for the hardback.

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