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An Homage To Red
Mary Jane Fashion looks at the enduring appeal of this classic and powerful hue: Red is one of the most powerful colours in the spectrum, with a long history and weighty cultural meaning. It first appeared in Stone Age paintings 40, 000 years ago and since then became a colour to represent a bizarre mixture of royalty, prostitution, love, anger, warmth, danger, religious devotion, political revolution and many more things in between. Coming in a variety of different shades, such as scarlet, maroon, ochre and vermilion, and with such fluidity in its array of sometimes contradictory cultural connotations, it is little wonder that the worlds of fashion and film have looked to the hue time and again. Imparting power and instant drama, it is a colour that never ceases to create impact in whatever context it appears, reappearing head-to-toe this season on the F/W 2015 runways at Osman, Daks and Versace. Here is our breakdown of some of the most iconic red looks.
Valentino’s red dresses
Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani, or simply Valentino, is one of the greatest designers to have emerged from Italy in the twentieth century. Over his illustrious career and prior to retirement, he dressed the likes of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway with his classic and refined creations. Shop similar styles at Mary Jane Fashion. He is perhaps most famous for his adoption of the color red in his long, floor sweeping bella donna gowns, which he first exhibited when he set up his couture house in Rome in 1960. Dubbed ‘Valentino red’, Valentino’s signature shade celebrates passion and femininity, and it was a colour he returned to again and again thanks to its timeless glamourous appeal. For his last Paris Fashion week show in 2008, Valentino was famously joined in the finale by models all clad in identical red dresses, paying tribute to his commitment to the iconic shade that he very much made his own over the course of a 45 year career in fashion.
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell
These two famous actress donned identical sparkling red dresses in the opening number ‘Two Little Girls from Little Rock’ from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. These dresses are undeniably sultry affairs: covered in sequins, with risqué slits up the thighs and plunging V necks that are covered with nude panels, the pair are formidable and confident, appearing a stark contrast to the innocent and naïve versions of themselves that they describe in the lyrics of the song. It is clear that they are anything but two little girls! They appear as two women who enjoy their jobs and earning money for themselves, although Monroe’s character Lorelei Lee would have otherwise, and they open the film with a bang. The dresses are like full-body version of Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz and still attract huge attention when put on display, for example at Christie’s Auction House in London in 2014.
One of the most iconic moments of hit 1990 film Pretty Woman sees Julia Roberts, playing the irreverent prostitute Vivian, sporting a glamourous off-shoulder, floor length dress for her first trip to the opera with beau Richard Gere. Although her sartorial transformation begins prior to this moment, this dress, designed and made by costume designer Marilyn Vance, sees Vivian at her most beautiful and refined, her mass of curly red hair piled on her head and finished with an opulent necklace worth $250,000. Originally, the studio wanted Julia Roberts to wear a black dress, but the red seems much more appropriate: Vivian is strikingly beautiful, bursting with life and energy, and the colour red (as well as nodding to her prostitution roots) helps to capture all of this seamlessly.
Written by Elizabeth Harper, Maryjane Fashion
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