Pink, as we noted in our discussion of its history, has been around for quite some time. It comes as no surprise, then, that it is featured frequently in one of societies’ favourite forms of entertainment: movies! From early cartoons to blockbuster franchises, pink has been a popular, influential colour choice for costumes, often worn in the most memorable of scenes. Whether it’s the delicate hue of blush pink or the vibrant tone of neon pink, the colour is used to portray key facets of the character’s personality, its ubiquitous presence keenly felt by the audience as a symbolic representation of the character.
The first film screenings to take place were at the end of the 19th Century, at a time when pink was beginning to be established in its gender-specific role (although this wasn’t fully entrenched until just prior to World War 1). Since then, it has been difficult to break away from existing connotations, which are particularly evident in the examples featured below. Despite its gendered associations, the colour is undoubtedly visually appealing, and one can only hope that it is seen as much as possible - on both men and women. For some pink inspiration and a list of 12 wonderful films and series, check out the list below. You can join in the conversation by telling us which stylish pink movie moments stand out for you!
Billie Burke in the WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
Nobody can forget the moment Glinda the Good Witch of the North appears next to Dorothy. Her contrast with the Wicked Witch of the West could not be starker! Everything – from her voice and her mannerisms, to her sparkly aura and light pink tulle ball gown – speaks of otherworldly goodness, and that is exactly what she is. This blush pink epitomises her calm, sweet nature and is further reflected in her soft curls and flowing skirt. It is no surprise that Glinda the Good Witch is likely the persona on which future fairy characters are based on, and her pink dress is a significant part of this image.
Vera Ellen in WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954)
With a musical score by Irving Berlin it seems only natural that the costumes in White Christmas were designed for dancing. In “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing”, the number performed in the scene pictured above, Vera Ellen and Danny Kaye perform a routine with complex choreography. Combining tap with ballet, dance was a significant element of American musicals, so film costumes often had to tick two boxes: dancing attire and believable daywear. Again, such a light hue reflects the soft femininity of the character – something seen as incredibly desirous for a woman to be in the 1950s.
Brigitte Bardot in L'OURS et la POUPEE (The Bear and the Doll, 1970)
Could Brigitte Bardot look any cooler? Her fully pink look is emblematic of the psychedelic fashions of the late 1960s. The wide brimmed hat – an element nodding towards hippie styles of the 1960s/70s – is paired with of-the-moment go-go boots, which were originally introduced by designer Andréè Courrèges in 1964. Filmed in the summer of 1969, it would make sense that costumes in this film reflect changes in fashion styles at the turn of the decade, including the shift in focus towards a more bubble-gum pink colour, full of fun and frivolity.
Emma Watson in HARRY PORTER and the GOBLET of FIRE (2005)
When Hermione descends the staircase at the Yule Ball and dances with the star of the Quidditch game, certain individuals get jealous, seeing her in a whole new light. Throughout the film, Hermione is portrayed as quirky, studious, and brave. In this scene, however, we can add one more thing to that list: absolutely gorgeous. Although a departure from the book’s periwinkle blue version of Hermione’s Yule Ball dress (which, admittedly, enraged some die-hard Harry Potter fans), costume designers for the film stated that it was a deliberate alteration. The gown was to signify Hermione’s budding womanhood, a departure from her tough side, from being the girl who only ever hangs out with boys
Shelley Duvall in 3 WOMEN (1977)
The above image perfectly exemplifies director Robert Altman’s stylised satire films. Wearing a shoulder-revealing pink cotton top and light pink skirt, Shelley Duvall holds a machine gun – a deliberate juxtaposition of ‘classic’ femininity and traditionally masculine objects. The film is not for those who value familiarity and reliability; supposedly taken from Altman’s own dream, its storyline is indisputably bizarre.
Princess Aurora in SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959)
Disney’s 1959 animated classic has defined the depiction of princesses ever since its release. Princess Aurora, whose physique was modelled on the gamine Audrey Hepburn, is shown dancing with Prince Philip in a billowing pink dress. Wondering why she is also frequently seen throughout the film in blue? The filmmakers who created the characters argued about what colour the dress should be. They decided to include their dispute in the film, which is why the fairies cannot decide on a colour either. They continue to send flashes of magic at the dress turning it from blue to pink, then pink to blue, as the enamoured couple dances.
Amanda Seyfried in MEAN GIRLS (2004)
“On Wednesdays, we wear pink!” This phrase, iconic amongst millennials in particular, has become symbolic of the clique-culture and fear of exclusion that many teenagers experience in school. The choice of the colour pink in this case also serves to portray the materialistic interests of the characters who like to wear it, and is a reflection of how the colour evolved in the early-to-mid noughties, encouraged by celebrities such as Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. The movie presents a one-sided view of the colour and is merely a fish in the sea of the many times pink outfits are used to depict a lack of maturity and low intellectual abilities of its wearers.
Marilyn Monroe in GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953)
Another example of a pink costume is the famous bright pink strapless dress (with matching elbow length gloves) worn by Marilyn Monroe as she sings “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”. The shiny taffeta of the outfit, the big bow on Monroe’s derrière, and the excessive sparkle of the many jewels she was wearing turned the actress herself into a personification of a jewellery gift box. Additionally, the Technicolor colouring process used in the film created a saturated effect, which forever paired deep pink with platinum blonde hair – an image that would be revisited in Legally Blonde at the beginning of the following century.
Princess Carolyn in BOJACK HORSEMAN (2014 – 2020)
Taking a break from costumes, let’s look at cartoons. The modern and edgy Netflix show, Bojack Horseman, has taken the world of troubled youth by storm, revolving around the story of an ex-Hollywood actor with high-functioning depression. But it’s the career-driven and independent — albeit occasionally vulnerable — Persian cat, Princess Carolyn, who often finds sympathy amongst the show’s fans. Her maturity contrasts with the stereotypically gendered baby pink colour of her skin. Princess Carolyn (literally) embodies the 'modern pink' that we increasingly see in society: tenacity and leadership coupled with long-standing femininity.
Catherine Deneuve in LES DEMOISELLES de ROCHEFORT (The Young Girls of Rochefort, 1967)
The dress worn by Catherine Deneuve in this movie scene is quintessential for the year in which it was produced, 1967, arguably considered one of the most important years of socio-economic and artistic development. From The Beatles to interracial marriage and everything in between, the year was undoubtedly a time of change. This was echoed in the fashions, too. In The Young Girls of Rochefort director Jacques Demy offers an escape from chaotic times by telling the tale of twins and their escapades as the fair arrives at their city’s town square. It’s a French musical comedy that will immediately lift your spirits!
Charmain Carr in THE SOUND of MUSIC (1965)
Much like Vera Ellen’s dress in White Christmas, Charmian Carr (who plays Liesl, the von Trapp family’s oldest daughter) wears a dress that could pass very well as a romantic ballet costume. This is not coincidental, as the scene it was created for features a dance and song number. Though Liesl is trying to prove how mature she is when she sings “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”, the overarching message is in contrast with this: Liesl von Trapp is still just a child, and her blush pink dress with its puffed sleeves reaffirms this fact.
Reese Witherspoon in LEGALLY BLONDE (2001)
Though at first glance it may seem that the protagonist of Legally Blonde is obsessed with clothing and going to the nail salon, this is definitely not where her interests end. In the above image she stands proudly, having just proved her case in her first courtroom hearing. Though the film plays upon stereotypical ‘bimbo’, childish and immature depictions of pink at first, it ultimately portrays how misleading these assumptions can be. And, although it’s probably not the best example of how to really get accepted into Harvard Law School, it does a pretty good job of warning about the negative consequences of judging somebody solely on the way they look. Instead, the film demonstrates the fierceness and strength within the colour and champions female solidarity in the midst of misogyny and sexism – with pink as the eventual unifying feature.