It's amazing that one feathered dress helped shape the most memorable number of the screen's greatest dance team, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It's a rush to discover that a fabric developed for automobile upholstery became the source for Halston's most famous creation. And although many people may not remember what film she won her Best Actress Oscar for ("The Hours"), no red-carpet watcher can forget the immediate and stunning effect of a young, copper-tressed Nicole Kidman in a commanding chartreuse chinoiserie gown by Dior. Fashion's calendar of shows may be fixed years in advance but its landmark events - such as Alexander McQueen revealing the final dress for one of his presentations as a three-dimensional hologram, or Jason Wu discovering Michelle Obama had selected his design for her inaugural ball gown only by actually seeing her appear on television, or Marilyn Monroe entertaining President John F. Kennedy in a second skin of sequins - were all unexpected, serendipitous delights.
Today we thrive on both the recognition of fashion's immediate ability to shape our self-images and our enlightened awareness of the way past examples of significant design affected the way women dressed, as well as how society perceived them. "100 Unforgettable Dresses" celebrates this remarkable power by citing those gowns, minis, muumuus, shifts, shirtwaists, sheaths, costumes, and beaded extravaganzas that sparked unforgettable collective memories and are directly responsible for changing how women wanted to look. Media personality and style authority Hal Rubenstein relates the stories of these amazing creations with an entertaining, fact-rich text that contains fascinating history, eye-opening anecdotes, and illuminating details about each dress' inspiration and construction, its contribution to fashion design, and its influence on popular culture.