| Knightley's green dress from the movie Atonement, designed by Jacqueline Durran|
Sky Movies and InStyle magazine conducted a survey for the "Best Film Costume Of All Time" and Keira Knightley's green dress from the movie Atonement won. I agree that it is a pretty great dress, and it has become 'that green dress,' but I am very hard pressed to commit to the OF ALL TIME part. It is the most recent on the list, plus I am curious as to if the people surveyed were given a list of options or asked to name their favorite? What people? Film companies involved? Why am I so naturally sceptical of everything?
Sky Movies director Ian Lewis said: "There's no doubt that Keira Knightley's dress in Atonement created a massive stir this year, so it will be interesting to see whether it attains this iconic status in years to come." Very interesting. Here's the rest of the list with pictures and a bit about how the green dress became the green dress.
| Marilyn Monroe's white dress in The Seven Year Itch|
| Audrey Hepburn's black Givenchy dress in Breakfast At Tiffany's|
| Olivia Newton-John's skin-tight pants in Grease|
| Kate Winslet's blue gown from Titanic|
| Diane Keaton's tie and waistcoat in Annie Hall|
| Nicole Kidman's corset in Moulin Rouge|
| Liza Minnelli's fishnets and bowler hat in Cabaret|
| Cate Blanchett's gown in Elizabeth: The Golden Age|
| Vivien Leigh's costumes in Gone With The Wind|
Here's an excerpt from the New York Post about the origin of the green dress:
The film's costume designer, Jacqueline Durran - who designed the dress after studying documentary and fashion photography from the 1930s - and Ivana Primorac, the film's hair and make-up artist, say that director Joe Wright dictated everything about the costume: the color, the cut, the silhouette, the amount of movement it should have.
“Joe said the dress had to be green," says Durran, though, she adds, “we really didn't know why."
To attain the deeply saturated emerald hue Wright envisioned, Durran sourced three different sheer fabrics, all varying shades of green, then layered them, creating a color she otherwise could not find. Wright had the improvised swatch sent to a dye specialist, who, Durran says, “created the perfect green."
“Joe is very, very particular; he has a lot of style and a good eye," says Primorac. “He knows more about fabric than anyone I've ever met."
As for the rest of the costume (which looks deceptively minimal but is composed of tiny, artful details): The dress is backless, Durran says, “because Joe knew he wanted to shoot Keira from behind, so the drama in the dress had to come from the back." The tiny, laser-cut perforations in the bodice were about “taking away, rather than adding on," she says, to serve the period's minimalism. To create the fluidity of movement Wright required, Durran created a bias-cut bodice and a straight-cut skirt, then improvised a wrap around the waist. “Just a design element, a nice detail," she says.
The result is a costume that is aspirational, both aesthetically and emotionally. It's the way a young girl, who is not yet as sophisticated and worldly as she wishes to be, would want to look in 1939 as well as in 2007. (Wright also directed Knightley's TV ads for Chanel Mademoiselle, which share the exact same visual language as this 20-minute stretch in “Atonement.")
“We wanted the look to be authentic, but to have a freshness, to appeal to the modern eye," says Durran. “I'm very pleased if it's striking a chord. That's what we were trying to do with that dress."