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.
Other celebrities who have recently worn hooded dresses include Margot Robbie, Kate Moss, Bella Hadid, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Janelle Monae and more.
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)
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)
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)
Other 1930's hooded gown designs include those by costume designers Edith Head and Irene.
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.
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.
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)
The trend also continued throughout the 1940s and some examples can be seen in the pictures below:
Whilst not as popular as in the 1940s, the hooded dress also made appearances in the 1950s.
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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