Dorothy's dress and the rise of the Vichy: a success story




A blue and white checked gingham pinafore worn over a cream-colored blouse with puffed sleeves and paired with the magical "little red shoes." It was 1939 when Judy Garland appeared on the big screen as Dorothy Gale, the protagonist of "The Wizard of Oz," forever entering not only the history of cinema but also the common imagination. Designed by MGM costume designer Adrian (the name by which Adrian Adolph Greenburg was known), as well as many of the other costumes in the film, including the booties, the dress was made with a treadle sewing machine to make it look just like it was homemade by Dorothy's Aunt Em.


It is one of the most famous costumes in film history and is often cited for helping to popularize the use of percale in women's fashion. In 2021, a Vogue France article listed it among the six most iconic Vichy-patterned dresses in film history, along with Brigitte Bardot's skirt in "Come Dance with Me" (1959) and Katherine Hepburn's long dress in "Scandal in Philadelphia" (1940). But the "gingham dress" continues to influence fashion trends even in the 21st century: checks are also trending for this spring/summer in the collections of Ralph Lauren, Prada, Miu Miu, just to name a few of the brands seduced by the vintage charm of the vichy.


During the shoot, several identical versions of the dress were made: on the actual number there is still no agreement, some claim ten were produced, some seven. In any case, it appears that Judy Garland actually wore only two. Of one of the two complete surviving dresses, given to the Reverend Gilbert Hartke in 1973, traces had been lost until April last year, when it was found in a shoebox at the Catholic University of America. The idea was to auction it off, but Barbara Ann Hartke, the reverend's granddaughter, has asserted her rights: now it cannot be sold until a federal court in Manhattan rules on ownership.

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