‘Pretty in Pink’ Costume Designer Explains Molly Ringwald’s Prom Dress

When you picture an '80s prom dress, a very specific set of attributes come to mind: puffy sleeves, a voluminous, possibly tiered knee-length skirt and ruched taffeta.

So why was Molly Ringwald's prom dress in iconic 1986 film Pretty in Pink none of the above?

"I said, 'This is Molly! I can't just give her a prom dress,'” Marilyn Vance, the costume designer for the cult classic film, told Huffington Post of the design, which featured exposed shoulders, polka dots and a lace yoke. "I just went in the other direction. I didn't want to date anything.”

Molly Ringwald
Molly Ringwald in 'Pretty in Pink.'

In the Howard Deutch–directed flick that costarred Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy and James Spader, Ringwald's Andie famously created her own prom dress.

Because Andie came from the wrong side of the tracks, she couldn't afford a new dress for the prom. Enter her friend Iona (Annie Potts), who gave Andie her decades-old prom dress. With that vintage style and a garment from her father (Harry Dean Stanton), Andie sewed together the ultimate anti-'80s dress. 

Molly Ringwald
Molly Ringwald in 'Pretty in Pink.'

According to Vance, the neckline was inspired by the black top Andie wore while sketching the final design (pictured above). "I tried to put the story together: How did she come up with that gown?" Vance said.

But the style was polarizing, even for Ringwald. "Oh, boy. Molly hated that dress," Vance explained. "She wanted to be like the other girls, you know, in a strapless dress with kind of a full skirt."

Molly Ringwald
Molly Ringwald in 'Pretty in Pink.'

Although the dress is as memorable as Duckie's lip synch to "Try a Little Tenderness," Vance admits that she never intended it to be a ground-breaking design. "I won't say that I was in love with it," she said. "But [the era's run-of-the-mill gowns were] not the character. The character was so original. She had a mind of her own, she marched to a different drummer."

What do you think of the Pretty in Pink dress after all these years?

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