Clothes from 1990s,  Girls in Films,  Premium

Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: Elegant Opera Dress

Pretty Woman (1990) is your typical Hollywood rags to riches story.

Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) is a young woman who finds herself down and out; struggling financially, unable to make the rent and ‘forced’ to sell her body on the street. By dramatic coincidence she happens to enter the car (and world) of newly single, and rich, businessman Edward Lewis (Richard Gere)

Vivian’s transformation from prostitute to elegant lady of luxury is highlighted through her clothes. Costume designer Marilyn Vance-Straker and her team created an array of stylish and contemporary outfits, beginning with the white and blue revealing dress with thigh-high boots that Roberts dons at the start of the film to Vivian’s most famous costume of all, her floor-sweeping red ball gown worn for the opera sequence.

This red dress represents the pinnacle of her progression to ‘lady’. Its bright, eye-catching colouration, daring deep v-cut or ‘dart’ neckline and ruffled, off-the shoulder sleeves elevate Vivian as an emblematic vision of beauty.

Accessorised sophisticatedly with white silk gloves, glistening necklace and stylish clutch bag, this gown is accentuated by delicate finishing touches. Attention is drawn to Vivian’s figure as the silk fabric of the dress is brought in at the waist before flowing out to the floor.

It seems that this design may have been inspiration for a number of recent designer pieces, including Christian Dior’s bow-back dress, and is even filtering through to high street prom dress boutiques.

A classically timeless example then of how movie fashion extends beyond the screen.

© 2010 – 2018, Lord Christopher Laverty.


  • elly

    just wandering if anyone knew a similar dressin ng gown to the black and floral one julia wore in pretty women

  • Dale Moses

    I think the designer of the red dress was Eugene Alexander. Can anyone confirm? ~Moses

  • Jessica

    Marilyn Vance designed all of the costumes in the film. My favorite actress attending my favorite opera, wearing a dress in my favorite color, in my favorite movie! PERFECT! 😀

  • Debbie

    Could anyone tell me where I could buy a replica red gown to the one worn by Julia Roberts????? Thank you for any feedback.

    • Nickie Andrew

      Did anyone reply to the whereabouts of obtaining a red dress like the one in pretty women?

    • Corrina

      I have got a replica of the dress, I just went to a dress makers and she did it for me, it is beautiful. It cost £132 and is worth every penny!

  • Debbie

    I found one on Ebay very similar to the red gown and it’s being custom made for me. Try Ebay……

  • Jackie

    Im searching for the White Dress Julia Roberts wore after shopping on Rodeo Drive in Pretty Woman. (this is the scene where she revisits the nasty sales woman at the boutique)

  • desmond spiers

    i want to find the red dress from pretty woman for a wedding dress for my fiancee. any one know where i can purchase it please

  • Linse Miller

    The designer of the red dress was Eugene Alexander! He is actually having a fashion show in Sarasota, Florida in December!

    • Brian Thomas

      Linse, could you please contact me with any information you may have on that fashion show in December?

  • Shannon

    Love this dress!!!

    The red was a great choice!!!

    I just found this blog & love it!!!

    I recently watched the film “Addicted To Love” starring Meg Ryan from 1997… I love her wardrobe in that film- so edgy & cool!!! I’d love to know more about Meg Ryan’s whole wardrobe from that film. She looked fierce!!!!

  • Sara Otter

    Do you know where you can get a black and floral dressing gown similar to the one Julia Roberts wore in pretty women please?

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