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  • Writer's pictureginaelisebradbury

The Origin and Glamour of the Hooded Dress

Let's look at hooded dresses: when were they first created? what are they inspired by? who has worn them best? and what are the most beautiful options available right now?


Fashion collections of 2022/'23 have included extremely glamorous hooded dresses. Numerous design houses including Saint Laurent, Ferragamo, Tom Ford, Alaïa and Versace have contributed to the revival of the trend. No one has worn the style better in recent years than Jenna Ortega; she wore a black backless, hooded gown by Saint Laurent to the Fall 2023 Saint Laurent Menswear Show. I think her charisma and coolness really fit with the style, and the darkness of the gown really compliments her ultra-dark, black eyeliner-defined eyes.


Jenna Ortega Wearing a Hooded Yves Saint Laurent Dress at the 2023 Fall Saint Laurent Menswear Show.
Jenna Ortega Wearing a Hooded Yves Saint Laurent Dress at the Fall 2023 Saint Laurent Menswear Show. (graziadaily.co.uk)

Other celebrities who have recently worn hooded dresses include Margot Robbie, Kate Moss, Bella Hadid, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Janelle Monae and more.


Kate Moss wearing a sheer spring 2023 Saint Laurent capuche gown at the WSJ. Innovator Awards.
Kate Moss wearing a sheer Spring 2023 Saint Laurent capuche gown at the WSJ Innovator Awards. (graziadaily.co.uk)

Addison Rae wearing a 2012 Gareth Pugh hooded minidress from LILY et Cite at the 2022 CFDAs.
Media personality Addison Rae wearing a 2012 Gareth Pugh hooded minidress from LILY et Cite at the 2022 CFDAs. (harpersbazaar.com.au)

Tessa Thompson wearing a sculptural red Fall 2022 Elie Saab gown at the 2022 Venice Film Festival premiere for 'Bardo'.
Actress Tessa Thompson wearing a sculptural red Fall 2022 Elie Saab gown at the 2022 Venice Film Festival premiere for 'Bardo'. (harpersbazaar.com.au)

Actress Simone Ashley wearing a sparkly hooded gown at the 2022 British Fashion Awards.
Actress Simone Ashley wearing a sparkly hooded gown at the 2022 British Fashion Awards. (ourfashionpassion.com)

Katie Holmes wearing a black, tight fitting hooded dress by Tom Ford at the Tom Ford Spring/Summer 2023 Runway Show.
Actress Katie Holmes wearing a black, tight fitting hooded dress by Tom Ford at the Tom Ford Spring/Summer 2023 Runway Show. (graziamagazine.com)

The new hooded designs have sparked numerous fashion articles discussing the history of the look. Emphasis has been placed on the hooded dress designs of the 1980s:


"Made famous in the ’80s, the look is back on celebrities like Jenna Ortega, Kate Moss, Bella Hadid, and even Miley Cyrus in her latest music video." (Tara Gonzalez and Dani Maher. harpersbazaar.com, 2023)


"Saint Laurent designer Anthony Vaccarello has been reviving the hooded gown in slinky, floor-length fabrications. His designs pay homage to the very same hooded, draped capuche dresses that Yves Saint Laurent himself introduced back in the mid 1980s" (Christian Allaire. www.vogue.co.uk, 2023)


"It doesn’t take a fashion historian (or… cowl expert) to know that hooded dresses have been a sexy staple in previous years, too. Grace Jones was one of the main purveyors of the awning-infused outfit, donning various caped creations as Bond girl May Day in A View To Kill in 1985 and then making history in that iconic Alaïa hooded gown on the runway in 1986, cementing the fashion house as the go-to for the cowl look." (Maddy Mussen. standard.co.uk, 2022)


Grace Jones in a silky purple hooded gown at the 1986 spring Alaïa haute couture show in Paris.
Grace Jones in a silky purple hooded gown at the 1986 spring Alaïa haute couture show in Paris. (harpersbazaar.com)

Model Wearing a Karl Lagerfeld Hooded Dress at a 1983 Chloé Show.
Model Wearing a Karl Lagerfeld Hooded Dress at a 1983 Chloé Show. (vogue.fr)
Bella Hadid wearing a vintage asymmetrical navy knit from Alaïa’s winter 1986 collection at the Fashion Trust Arabia Awards in Qatar in October 2022.
Model Bella Hadid in October 2022 wearing a vintage asymmetrical navy knit from Alaïa’s winter 1986 collection at the Fashion Trust Arabia Awards in Qatar. (harpersbazaar.com.au)

Let's take a deeper look at Yves Saint Laurent's connection with the hooded dress. According to Harpers Bazaar, Laurent's 1980's hooded dress designs were inspired by a performance by American dancer Martha Graham. In her 1930 choreography, called 'Lamentation', Graham depicts the challenge and survival of grief by swinging "her body within the confines of the (purple, tight fitting) fabric like a forceful metronome." (Tara Gonzalez and Dani Maher. harpersbazaar.com, 2023). Apparently, Laurent saw the potential in Graham's costume to create hooded dresses that symbolise freedom, "What Graham saw as an expression of grief, Laurent saw as clothing that could be as fluid and freeing as an outpouring of emotion." (Tara Gonzalez and Dani Maher. harpersbazaar.com, 2023)





A model wearing a gold Yves Saint Laurent hooded dress. Winter 1992. Miley Cyrus has recently worn this dress in her music video 'Flowers'.
A model wearing a gold Yves Saint Laurent hooded dress. Winter 1992. Miley Cyrus has recently worn this dress in her music video 'Flowers'. (harpersbazaar.com.au)

However, whilst hooded dresses are associated with the 1980s, hoods also featured significantly in dresses of the late 1930’s and throughout the 1940s. In my opinion, the origin of 1980's hooded gowns can be seen in #1930sglamour. Jenna Ortega's Saint Laurent dress can be compared to a late 1938 design by Ana de Pombo for Paquin (shown below). Ortega's dress can be seen as a toned down version of this design as 1930's dresses typically had a cinched waist and lots of details. Whilst the 1938 Paquin design has a cinched waist, cut-outs and a pixie hood, both designs are black, floor length, backless and hooded. (collections.vam.ac.uk, 2023)


A 1938 black hooded dress design by Ana de Pombo.
A 1938 black hooded dress design by Ana de Pombo. (collections.vam.ac.uk)

Other 1930's hooded gown designs include those by costume designers Edith Head and Irene.

Claudette Colbert Wearing a Metallic Hooded Gown by Irene in the 1939 Movie 'Midnight'.
Actress Claudette Colbert wearing a metallic hooded gown by Irene in the 1939 movie 'Midnight'. (ladybegood.tumblr.com)

Anna May Wong wearing a hooded gown designed by Edith Head for the 1938 movie 'Dangerous to Know'.
Actress Anna May Wong wearing a hooded gown designed by Edith Head for the 1938 movie 'Dangerous to Know'. (twixnmix.tumblr.com)

American socialite Edith Beale in 1938 modelling a white hooded dress during an outdoor fashion show in New York.
American socialite Edith Beale in 1938 modelling a white hooded dress during an outdoor New York fashion show. (flickr.com)

1930's Coral Hooded Dress made of Rayon Crepe.
Vintage 1930's coral hooded dress made of rayon crepe. (pinterest.co.uk)
1939 advertisement featuring actress Gale Sondergaard for the Kalmour dinner gown with a hood.
1939 advertisement featuring actress Gale Sondergaard for the Kalmour dinner gown with a hood. (www.flickr.com)

The wearing of cloaks (sometimes hooded) with dresses was popular in the early 20th century as evening wear, and the creation of hooded dresses can be seen as a potential combining and progression from this.


A 1910's Blush Pink Silk Burnoose by Liberty of London.
A 1910's blush pink silk burnoose by Liberty of London. (augusta-auction.com)

Silent Actress Clara Bow Wearing a Fringed, Hooded Cloak. Late 1920s/1930.
Silent Actress Clara Bow wearing a fringed, hooded cloak/poncho. Late 1920s/1930. (aurorasginjoint.com)

A 1935 Pattern for a Long Evening Cape.
A 1935 pattern for a long evening cape. (pinterest.co.uk)

A 1930's illustration of fashionable clothing including a hooded evening cape. The description reads "The hooded cape is bound to be the first evening wrap of the year."
A 1930's illustration of fashionable clothing including a hooded evening cape. The description reads "The hooded cape is bound to be the first evening wrap of the year." (flickr.com)

When considering 1930's hooded dresses, another image that comes to my mind is that of the queen in Disney's 1937 film 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'. The film was extremely successful at the time and in its first year "grossed $8 million -- more than any other film before it." (pbs.org, no date) I imagine that with such success the movie must have been incredibly influential at the time, and I can't help wondering if the queen's hooded cape influenced 1930's fashion. The design of the queens clothing has been linked to Uta von Ballenstedt; she was German royalty and "the wife of Margave Eckard II from 1038-1046."(medieval-women.tumblr.com, no date) A painted statue was created of the pair in the 13th century, and it shows a strong resemblance to the 'Snow White' queen. (thedisneyclassics.com, 2022) This also draws attention to the connection between the sophistication and majesty of the hood and its allusion to royalty.


The queen in Disney's 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.(
The queen in Disney's 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (girlsdofilm.wordpress.com)

The painted statue of Uta von Ballenstedt and the potential inspiration for the 'Snow White' queens clothing.
The painted statue of Uta von Ballenstedt and the potential inspiration for the 'Snow White' queen's clothing. (medieval-women.tumblr.com)

It has also been surmised that the design of the queen in Disney's 'Snow White' was inspired by the 1935 movie 'She'. The hooded outfit worn by the character Ayesha, played by Helen Gahagan Douglas, will also have drawn attention to the hood as a fashion statement. (tor.com, 2016)

Ayesha in the 1935 adaptation of 'She'.
Ayesha in the 1935 adaptation of 'She'. (tor.com)

The trend also continued throughout the 1940s and some examples can be seen in the pictures below:

French actress Annabella photographed for Vogue in 1942 wearing a light blue/grey hooded dress.
French actress Annabella photographed for Vogue in 1942 wearing a light blue/grey hooded dress. (pinterest.co.uk)

Claudette Colbert posing in a pink hooded gown during the filming of the 1942 movie 'The Palm Beach Story'.
Claudette Colbert posing in a pink hooded gown during the filming of the 1942 movie 'The Palm Beach Story'. (ureshiidesign.ca)

Actress Barbara Stanwyck photographed in 1946 wearing a red hooded dress with matching lipstick.
Actress Barbara Stanwyck photographed in 1946 wearing a red hooded dress with matching lipstick. (prettyshake.tumblr.com)

Lucille Ball wearing a white hooded gown in a 1946 publicity photograph for the movie 'Lover Come Back'.
Lucille Ball in a 1946 publicity photograph for the movie 'Lover Come Back'. (blog.johannaost.com)

Model wearing a hooded dress with a monochrome print for Vogue April 1946.
Model wearing a hooded dress with a monochrome print for Vogue April 1946. (vogue.com)

A 1940's sewing pattern including a blue mid length hooded dress with red bows.
A 1940's sewing pattern including a blue mid length hooded dress with red bows. (flickr.com)


Whilst not as popular as in the 1940s, the hooded dress also made appearances in the 1950s.


Lana Turner photographed in a pale blue hooded gown in 1950.
Lana Turner photographed in a pale blue hooded gown in 1950. (itsrosy.com)

A 1952 hooded design by Hollywood costume designer Adrian.
A 1952 hooded design by Hollywood costume designer Adrian. (observer.com)

Actress, dancer and singer Dorothy Dandridge in 1955 wearing a pink hooded midi dress .
Actress, dancer and singer Dorothy Dandridge in 1955 wearing a pink hooded midi dress. (louxosenjoyables.tumblr.com)

Let me know what you think about the origins of the hooded dress and what your favourite examples of the style are in the comments down below. Below are some stunning styles available to buy now:










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