Want a dress everyone will remember – for ever? Laura Craik suggests these five iconic designs as a guide.

Cindy Crawford in  The Bandage, Rachel Weisz in the The Galaxy 


Kate Moss in the slip , Emily Ratajkowski in  the Double Bra 

The Duchess of Cambridge in The Vampire

The Vampire and the Duchess Of Cambridge 

 Many are designed. Only a few get chosen. What is it that makes party dresses so iconic? It’s a question that is as difficult and convoluted to answer as the design process that led to its creation. You can partially explain it as the right gown at the right moment, worn by a celebrity, or the right model. However, it’s more than just a simple formula. It has a special magic that attracts women to purchase it, to wear it, to fall in love and to keep it close to their hearts. Amid the millions of dresses in the pantheon, these are the five we’ve chosen as being The Ones…

Slip dress circa 1992


Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Christy Turlington wearing their hip slips

 It’s difficult to attribute the slip dress to one designer, so let’s pick two: John Galliano, whose bias-cutting (where fabric is cut across the grain not along the weave) made the style so effective as an evening dress, and Liza Bruce, whose transparent version Kate Moss famously wore in the early 90s. Alber Elbaz and Calvin Klein, both of whom were also pioneers in this style, deserve honourable mentions. The slip dress is still loved almost 30 years later for its simple design and flattering bias-cut that clings to the body. Black might be its most classic iteration (Linda Evangelista rocked hers grunge-style with a T-shirt), though white is equally impactful – Sadie Frost wore Kate Moss’s white Galliano slip to marry Jude Law in 1997. Expect a lot of slips with the revival of 90s fashion. Check out Raey’s plethora of takes (from £95, matchesfashion.com) and the 800-plus styles at Asos, starting at £10.

 The Bandage dress, 1993


Salma and Elle Hayek wearing the bandage

 The bodycon dress to end all bodycon dresses, Hervé Léger’s ‘bandage’ was so-called because it comprised strips of elastic sewn together super tightly. The first time it was seen was 1993 at New York Fashion Week. Its popularity was confirmed in 1995 when supermodels Eva Herzigova (Cindy Crawford), Karen Mulder and Karen Mulder made the most of it. The beauty of this garment is its ability to flatter both curvy as well as angular shapes. It also lends itself well to bright colours: Salma Hayek, Elle Macpherson, Kim Kardashian and Rihanna have all fallen for its charms over the years, while the current early 2000s revival means it’s winning over a new generation. Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) wore a hot pink dress in TikTok’s last year video, which received over 11.6 Million views. If you’re in the market to wear one this Christmas without breaking the bank, check out Ebay which has a great selection of vintage ones

 The Galaxy dress, 2005 

Cameron Diaz, Dita von Teese

Carol Vorderman and Victoria Beckham

 Roland Mouret has a lot of fans, including Scarlett Johansson, Halle Berry, and when it came time to dress the A-list, he was already a master at this. In 2005, the Galaxy, a square-necked cap-sleeved gown, was the one that made him famous. It was more of a cocktail dress that an evening gown, but its true genius lies in its versatility. That and the power-mesh slide, which was a layer of secret material that could be used as a corset for shaping and shaping, were its strengths. Those who have enjoyed its flattering cut on the red carpet include Rachel Weisz and Victoria Beckham, while Beyoncé was snapped

Carol Vorderman was seen in one of these dresses at a book release. Carol Vorderman also wore it nearly everywhere after purchasing the dress in multiple colours. Mouret is sadly said to be battling administration, but 16 years after it was originally unveiled on the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week, the Galaxy continues to thrive: it’s currently available at rolandmouret.com priced £1,595. Missguided, River Island, and Topshop are some of the homages.

The Vampire’s wife dress, 2017

In 2016, the model Susie Bick, whose husband is the musician Nick Cave, launched The Vampire’s Wife, a niche luxury label with a gothic, dramatic feel that reflected Bick’s much-coveted personal style. One item in particular – a high-necked dress with three-quarter sleeves and a hem trimmed with ruffles – caught women’s imagination, and a cult was born. Is it still in use? It would be quicker to list who hasn’t. Florence Welch has sported a pink velvet version. Jodie Cooper has worn it in black. Holly Willoughby was also seen wearing it in metallic red and Duchess Catherine in metallic green. It was worn by three guests to Prince Harry’s wedding. You can also see it on Alexa and Sienna Miller, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Bick didn’t give the dress a name. He preferred to give each iteration a different moniker (its first appearance was the Cate). This season, a metallic chiffon version is named the Falconetti (£1,595), while a shorter printed style with forget-me-nots is called Devon’s Dress (£495). So popular was the style that in 2020, H&M launched a The Vampire’s Wife capsule collection that included a more affordable version for £19.99. The dramatic Victorian-inspired looks of the Victorian is back in style as party season gets underway.

 Double The 2021 Bra Dress

Dua Lipa wearing a double bra gown and Zendaya using it last month

You may not have heard of Nensi Dojaka, but you’ll know her dresses: they’ve been worn by Rihanna, Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Adwoa Aboah and Hailey Bieber to name a few. Originally from Albania, the 28-year-old designer launched her eponymous label in 2017 while still studying at Central Saint Martins; in September, she won the prestigious LVMH Prize, securing €300,000 (around £250,000) and a year’s mentorship with the luxury-goods house. While it’s fair to say her £800 double bra stretch-silk dress requires confidence to wear (its cutaway bodice and gossamer-thin straps reveal a lot of flesh), something about its bold, unapologetic brand of sex appeal has caught the imagination – and after

18 months of lockdown, there’s a hunger for sexy party dresses. Dojaka hopes that hers will convey strength and softness. Already, retailers are churning out similar designs – a sure indication that the double bra is on its way to classic status.