Black and white Valentino dress of Julia Roberts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Black and white Valentino dress of Julia Roberts
Designer Valentino Garavani
Year 2001 (2001)
Type Black and white Valentino dress

The black and white Valentino dress of Julia Roberts refers to the black and white Valentino dress worn by Julia Roberts at the 73rd Academy Awards on March 25, 2001, during which she won the Academy Award for her performance in Erin Brockovich. The dress was floor-length, with a black body. A single white stripe ran down the front of the dress, splitting into a Y-shape at the bust to form a pair of straps. In the back, the dress fanned out into a black tulle train with several more white stripes running down it.[1]

Widely praised by fashion critics, a poll by Debenhams, published in the Daily Telegraph, voted it the third most iconic red carpet dress of all time.[2] The dress was a vintage 1992 design from the Valentino archives,[3][4] intended to evoke the style of classic Hollywood; Valentino had designed for prominent fashion icons such as Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor.[5]


Roberts was dressed by Debbie Mason.[6] This was known to Valentino who realized he had "struck gold" because his employee Cristina Viera had been an acquaintance of Mason in England in the 1980s when Mason has been an editor for British Elle and Viera had worked for fashion house Jasper Conran.[6] This led to Viera contacting Mason to offer the dress.[6] Roberts had previously tried on dresses sent by most of the other top designers but was not particularly impressed by any of them. Convinced they had the right dress for her, in the very week of the Oscars, Viera arranged for Roberts to come to a fitting at Valentino Beverly Hills.[6] Viera remarked that Roberts looked "absolutely stunning" and Roberts was reported to have said "I just thought it was a pretty dress".[6] The black column gown with white piping had been slightly too small for Roberts but a tailor made some last-minute adjustments.[7]


Valentino himself has cited the moment Roberts collect her Oscar for Best Actress wearing his gown as the high point of his 45-year career; "I have dressed so many people but I have to be sincere. The person that made me feel so very, very happy was Julia Roberts. When she got the Academy Award for Erin Brockovich I watched it on television and really I was so excited that she appeared in my dress."[7] The dress was originally made for the 1992 Valentino couture collections, now in the company archives.[3]

The dress proved very popular with teenage girls and many copies were sold and worn as prom dresses throughout the United States.[8] Other dresses were designed very similarly in the black and white style later in 2001, such as Thierry Mugler's design, valued at $600.[9]


  1. ^ Reeve., Chace, (2003). The complete book of Oscar fashion : Variety's 75 years of glamour on the red carpet. New York, NY: Reed Press. p. 175. ISBN 1594290016. OCLC 53233868. 
  2. ^ Khan, Urmee (9 October 2008), "Liz Hurley 'safety pin' dress voted the greatest dress", The Telegraph, retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b The New Yorker. New Yorker Magazine, inc. 2007. p. 84. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Wilson, Elizabeth (12 September 2003). Adorned in dreams: fashion and modernity. I.B.Tauris. p. 251. ISBN 978-1-86064-921-9. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Garwood, Duncan; Hole, Abigail (15 January 2008). Rome: city guide. Lonely Planet. p. 173. ISBN 978-1-74104-659-5. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Cosgrave, Bronwyn (15 December 2006). Made for each other: fashion and the Academy Awards. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 253. ISBN 978-1-59691-087-4. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Valentino pays tribute to Julia Roberts at Venice Film Festival". The Telegraph. 28 August 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Damhorst, Mary Lynn; Miller-Spillman, Kimberly A.; Michelman, Susan O. (30 March 2005). The meanings of dress. Fairchild Publications. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-56367-366-5. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  9. ^ New York. New York Magazine Co. 2001. Retrieved 16 May 2011.