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Think Pink: The Most Iconic Pink Dresses

I believe in pink - a famous quote by Audrey Hepburn. Not only Audrey loved and wore the infantile colour, which is considered traditional for girls under 12 years old. Some of the pink looks have become iconic in fashion history.

Shades of pale pink in clothing became popular in the 18th century in France, when the idle and playful rococo came to replace the baroque.

The pink colour symbolized sophistication, luxury, and aristocracy, so it was worn only by the crème de la crème society. At that time the pink colour in clothes was worn by women - dresses, and men - frock coats and tailcoats.

The Marquise de Pompadour, the official favourite of the French king Louis XV, adored pink. She patronized science and art, and she had a lot of hobbies. She even created her porcelain production in the city of Sevres. The marquise took an active part in the production process: from finding craftsmen and artists to choosing shapes and colours for future products. As a result of experiments at the Servian Porcelain Manufactory, a rare pink porcelain colour was created, adding pink blue, black and yellow colours. This shade of pink was named after the Marquise - Rose Pompadour.

One of the most famous paintings of that period - "Swing" by Jean-Honore Fragonard. The swing is being swung by an elderly man sitting in the shade of trees. The main character of the picture is a young playful girl on a swing. Approaching her lover, who is hiding in the grass among the flowers, she lifts her leg, and her mule is slipping off. A coral dress with lace, a hat and matching mules emphasize the young lady's charm and coquetry.

After the Marquise de Pompadour, Queen Marie Antoinette of France became the trendsetter in France. She was the first to wear couture dresses designed for her by the "Minister of Fashion" Rose Bertin. Fashion has become not just a craft, but an art. Marie Antoinette has made fashionable high hairstyles, which were decorated with flowers, feathers, fake birds, pearls and even diamonds. Fashionable aristocrats used to powder or dye their hair in unusual colours. The colour Strawberry Blonde was very popular for hair.

In cinematography, this time is interpreted in the colourful film Marie Antoinette (2006, directed by Sofia Coppola) with Kirsten Dunst in the leading role. Throughout the film, the actress has many pink looks with flying fabrics, ribbons and lace. Costume designer Milena Canonero got the idea to dress the whole picture in beautiful pastel colours when she saw a box of macaron cookies from the oldest French bakery shop Ladurée, that was sent to her by the director. This bakery shop made all the cakes and pastries for the film. The film won several awards for Best Costumes, including an Academy Award.

The shoes for the film were created by Spanish shoe designer Manolo Blahnik. They are quite modern, although according to the fashion of the time. Now these shoes are presented at exhibitions.

I was lucky enough to admire these shoes in September 2019 at the An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik exhibition at the Wallace Collection in London.

It is no coincidence that one of the most beautiful pink pairs of shoes from the film was exhibited right next to the painting "Swing". A perfect combination of classic and contemporary art.

Over time, in the 19th century, pink became available not only among the nobility. During this time, pink was the colour for boys, as pink is a shade of red, the colour of courage. And only at the end of the 1950s, the pink colour became girly.

In the first decades of the 20th century, the French designer Paul Poiret created dresses and coats of various pink shades: from pale pink, coral to bright fuchsia.

In the 1930s, Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli introduced a new colour - shocking pink - a rich fuchsia colour. At that time, this colour was considered insufficiently intellectual and defiant. It all started with Shocking perfume, the box of which was exactly that colour. It was an incredible success, so the fashion house also released a lipstick in shocking pink. Shocking pink has also migrated to the clothing collection and the colour has become part of the brand's DNA. All Elsa's creations were extravagant, she often worked with surrealist artists.

After World War II, pink went into the shadows, like everything extraordinary that Elsa did. At the end of 1954, the fashion house was closed, but in 2013 it was reopened and became a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. The shocking pink is currently on the red carpet again.

Elsa was replaced by other designers who revived femininity.

The genius Christian Dior did not hide his love for pink. He said that pink is the colour of happiness and femininity. I saw this Dior casual summer silk suit, consisting of a pleated skirt and a jacket with short sleeves, in September 2018 at the The Resort Fashion from the Alexander Vasiliev Foundation exhibition at VDNH, Moscow.

Dior agitated women to wear pink in contrast to the war-disfigured streets of Paris. Dior loved floral patterns, shades of rose and marble.

In 1956, he created one of the most beautiful pink dresses - a silk evening gown with a rose-shaped bustle, called Opera Bouffe.

In November 2017, at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, I visited my first exhibition dedicated to the great couturier. The exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du rêve was created to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Fashion House.

There were the works of haute couture from 1947 to the present days, not only by Dior but also by his six successors. There was a separate showcase for pink creations, which consisted of dresses, handbags, shoes, gloves, and cosmetics.

There were also many dresses with pink flowers in the floral dress block. Floral prints and glamorous pink colour have been in Dior's collections throughout its history.

More pink dresses were on display at the exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which I visited in May 2019.

Spanish fashion designer Cristobal Balenciaga also did not ignore pink. Unlike Dior's fitted dresses, Balenciaga's dresses featured voluminous silhouettes with intricate structural details. Balenciaga created high-waisted dresses with a low-cut back, balloon skirts, and voluminous capes with large hoods.

In 1983, Yves Saint Laurent presented one of the most beautiful dresses in his career. The dress called Paris consists of a pink off-the-shoulder top with a giant bow at the back and a black velvet skirt with a high slit. For years this model has been interpreted by the fashion house.

Light pink cone-shaped corset, created by Jean-Paul Gaultier for Madonna's Blond Ambitions Tour, is another iconic pink creation.

The most memorable pink outfit in cinema is a bright pink dress with a chic bow, matching gloves and diamond bracelets and a necklace, in which Marilyn Monroe sang the song Diamonds are the girl's best friend in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). The dress that made Marilyn a star was created by costume designer William Travilla.

A year earlier, Marilyn wore a playful fuchsia dress in the film Niagara (1952). This dress became very popular in the United States during the 1950s.

A more elegant pink outfit was created for Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief (1955) by Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head.

Pink became a feminine colour after the agitation of pink in the movie Funny Face (1957). In the film, the the fashion magazine's editor-in-chief Maggie Prescott performed by Kay Thompson sings the song Think Pink. In the song, she advises thinking pink and fantasizes about how wonderful it is to use pink for all female products. A prototype of the heroine is the legendary editor-in-chief of American Vogue Diana Vreeland.

In 1959, a Barbie doll was released, whose clothes and accessories were traditionally pink.

Pink mania even influenced wedding fashion. Brigitte Bordeaux on her wedding day in 1959, wore a fitted dress with a fluffy skirt in a small pink and white check (Vichy pattern), which was created by the French designer Jacques Esterel.

Audrey Hepburn also wore a pink dress at her second wedding in 1969. A soft pink A-line mini-dress with an original funnel-shaped collar was created by Audrey's favourite designer and friend, Hubert de Givenchy. Instead of a traditional veil, the bride wore a small headscarf that matched the dress.

Audrey Hepburn wore many pink outfits in the films, and almost all of them became iconic. A pink suit with a cocktail dress with sequins and a pink bow on her waist, and a light satin coat with short sleeves, from the film Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) was also created by Givenchy. This outfit was completed with pink shoes, earrings and a tiara.

Givenchy also created a marshmallow pink dress that Audrey wore in the final scenes of Paris When It Sizzles (1964).

Costume designer Cecil Beaton created for Audrey a pink dress with a big flower for the film My Fair Lady (1964).

In politics, the most notorious pink outfit is the two-piece tweed suit with dark blue lapels that Jacqueline Kennedy wore during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. The suit was created by Chez Ninon. It is an exact copy of the Chanel model from the autumn/winter collection of 1961. The fabric and fittings were sent from Coco Chanel atelier. Chanel was aware that her model was going to be copied for the first lady. This outfit was completed with a pink pillbox hat and white gloves.

Another iconic Jacqueline's pink outfit is a sleeveless satin dress by Christian Dior, which she wore in the White House in 1962.

Even though in the last 100 years royals have not had as much influence on fashion as they did several centuries ago, we are still curious to watch their looks. Mainly the British royal family, whose every woman wore pink: from the Queen Mother to the Duchess of Cambridge.

The greatest love for pink had Diana, Princess of Wales. She wore pink outfits during formal and informal occasions.

One of the dresses I liked in the Diana: her fashion story exhibition at Kensington Palace in London in August 2018 was a light pink dress designed by Zandra Rhodes, which Diana wore for a state banquet in Kyoto, Japan. The colour of the dress echoed the cherry blossoms that were in flower at that time.

In the early 2000s, pink became very popular again, especially after the films Legally Blonde (2001) and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003), in which Reese Witherspoon's character changed pink outfits throughout the films and proved that beauty could be combined with the intelligence.

A few years later, the film Mean Girls (2004) was released, in which the main characters had the rule to wear pink on Wednesdays.

At that time Paris Hilton was a fashion influencer. She adored Barbie pink outfits.

Today we have Nicki Minaj, who likes pink outfits, but they are more aggressive than childishly cute.

Fashion designers don’t forget this colour these days: Rihanna in a Giambattista Valli dress at the 2015 Grammy, Lady Gaga in a Valentino dress at the Venice Festival in 2018, and Scarlett Johansson in Versace dress at the BAFTA film awards in 2020.

In modern cinema, the outfit with a pink tulle dress by Molly Goddard in a duet with rough Balenciaga boots, that wore Jodie Comer in Killing Eve, has become iconic. The show won a BAFTA award for Best Costumes this year.

During the writing this post, I realized that I have a few pink dresses in my wardrobe, so I already know what I will buy next time. :)


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