Top Five Friday: Red Dresses

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Now that our American fall holiday has passed, it is time to put out the festive decorations for the next big winter holiday. And what is more festive than a giant red dress?

 

 

Mina Harker’s Red Dress in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

I would be remiss if I did not include THE red dress to end ALL red dresses.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

 

 

Satine’s Red Dress in Moulin Rouge (2001)

Fun fact, I really didn’t care for Moulin Rouge, but I did think the costumes were fantastic. The whole palette of the film is a riot of bold blues and bright reds, encapsulated by Satine’s incredible red satin gown. It’s 1890s evening wear which can come off as looking a lot more modern than something from over 100 years ago, which is likely why the same look was super popular in prom and formal wear in the early-2000s.

Satine in Moulin Rouge! (2001)

The original gown, which you can get a full-360 degree view of here. Photo: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

An authentic Jessica McClintock prom dress from the early-2000s, which you can purchase here.

 

 

Mercy Hartigan’s Red Dress in Doctor Who: The Next Doctor (2008)

Never have I ever gone from “Oh, hey a new Doctor Who episode just dropped” to “I WANT THAT RED DRESS OMGWTFGIVEITTOME” faster than when I first watched the Doctor Who Christmas Special, “The Next Doctor.” Yes, she’s bad. VERY bad. But goddamn, she looks SO GOOD. I even have a bazillion yards of heavy crimson red silk satin set aside for this eventual bucket item dress. Maybe someday I will get around to it…

 

Edith Cushing’s Red Dress in Crimson Peak (2015)

This thing is AMAZING and I want it, despite not really caring for this era of costume in general.

Crimson Peak (2015) Crimson Peak 2015

 

 

Emily’s Red Dress in Dickinson (2019)

I can’t get enough of Hailee Steinfeld (which is good, because she’s about to be EVERYWHERE as Kate Bishop in the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe offering, Hawkeye, and you know how I love me some MCU), starting with her turn as Mattie Ross in the 2010 remake of True Grit. And yet, somehow I managed not to watch Dickinson, which is a shame because the costumes don’t look half bad. And, well, Hailee Steinfeld, who I would watch act her way out of a paper bag, thank you very much.

Trystan said this was a, and I quote, “red poly satin prom vampire wanna-be thing,” but this is also from the woman who liked Reign. Soooo. I think it looks pretty damn good, poly satin or not. I think I’m going to have to fast-track Dickinson in my watch list to do a full review on the costumes, now.

 

 

Special Mention: Mary Queen of Scots’ Red Kirtle in Elizabeth R (1971)

One of my favorite examples of an under kirtle on film is Mary’s execution dress in Elizabeth R. While it’s not exactly festive, it sure is striking!

Elizabeth R (1971) - MQoS execution

 

 

Do you have a favorite historical red dress in film or TV? Share it with us in the comments!

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About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

26 Responses

  1. Amanda

    I love seeing how red dresses are deployed on film–I used to have a Pinterest board devoted to them. One small note: Lucille Sharpe, not Edith Cushing, is the wearer of the fabulous red dress in Crimson Peak.

    Reply
    • Kathleen Marion Carroll

      That’s a gorgeous one too and it must have weighed a ton with all that velvet. I have a Victorian ball gown with velvet and I rarely wear it because it’s soooooo heavy

      Reply
      • Ermanno Gizzi

        Yes, even looking at the dress it was hard to assess the weight but I believe it’s remarkable.

        Reply
  2. Gray

    How about Glen Close’s red and gold dress from “Dangerous Liaisons”?
    Too much gold to qualify?

    And they’re off topic, but tangential and interesting, I like Lydia’s red tulle wedding dress from “Beetlejuice” and Jessica Lang’s red hunting outfit from Julie Taymor’s “Titus”.

    Reply
  3. Carlo

    Salma Hayek’s in “The tale of tales” and Emilie Dequenne’s in “Brotherhood of the wolf”

    Reply
  4. Saraquill

    Hail to the costuming staffers who press such intricate and reflective dresses to perfection.

    Reply
  5. patrish

    Scarlett O’Hara’s red slut dress, the one that Rhett made her wear to Melanie’s party.

    Reply
  6. Lily Lotus Rose

    NOTHING will ever top Mina’s dress in Dracula. NOTHING will ever top any costume in Dracula.

    Non “FrockFlick” fave red dress: The dresses worn by En Vogue for the video “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” which are in the National Museum of African American Culture and History. Hell yes!!!

    Reply
  7. Margo A

    My grandmother, my mother, my sister, and I all met husbands while wearing red dresses. They are powerful.

    Reply
  8. Caroline Harper

    Michelle Pfeiffer’s red dress in The Age of Innocence and Judy Garland’s Christmas Ball dress in Meet Me in St. Louis.

    Reply
  9. Jen Cooke

    I love me a good red dress. To the extent I swear I wore that Jessica McClintock to my grad banquet in gulp 1998, or at least a very close cousin. It was the dress of my dreams at 17. Still is.

    (I still have it! Or at least it’s in a closet at my parents’. It might even still fit.)

    Reply
  10. Roxana

    I’m with you, Edith’s dress is stunning! All those tiers of pleated crimson. I don’t know how she could walk in it but it’s perfect for sitting and being admired! 😄

    Reply

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