“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.” So stated Van Gogh, and today on AnOther, we are channeling the power of yellow to create a cyber flash of sunshine to brighten up Blue Monday, the gloomiest day of the year. Symbolically the shade represents “youth, strength and divine immortality”, and in many cultures it was the colour of the Gods, an emblem of power that was taken on by kings, princes and emperors as a proclamation of their own divinely ordained status. Today the power of yellow comes less from its relationship with the deities and more from its air of warmth and happiness. In fashion terms, it also has an edge of rebellion – so vivid a shade demands attention from the audience and élan from the wearer. So here, for Yellow Monday, we have picked our favourite yellow looks from the past years, as worn by actresses, musicians, British royalty and Disney princesses.
Debbie Harry of Blondie
Yellow went punk when worn by the Blondie frontwoman. Matched with her buttery bouffant and taking all forms including oversized T-shirts, jumpsuits and sharp-shouldered dresses, Harry overrode the ingénue spirit of the colour with a vibrant modern energy.
It has been asked if yellow can ever truly be sexy? Brigitte Bardot, plus a suggestion of yellow feathers, makes the point moot.
Cher in Clueless, 1995
It’s one of the most quoted films of the nineties, as well as spawning a generation of girls for whom black slip dresses and a feather boa were the go-to choice for parties. However, it’s this virulently yellow tartan ensemble selected by Cher’s much envied wardrobe computer that embodies the exuberant charm of Clueless.
Faye Dunaway in Bonnie & Clyde, 1967
Her character may have been more focused on evading justice for crimes committed, but Faye Dunaway’s sleek bob matched with dirty yellow knitwear and a camel beret coined a sartorial language for all aspiring villainesses.
Elizabeth Taylor at her wedding to Richard Burton, 1964
For her fifth wedding, and having worn ivory, blue and green in past ceremonies, Elizabeth Taylor wore a primrose yellow chiffon dress to marry Richard Burton, topped with a floral wreath of Roman hyacinth and lily of the valley. The couple had met on the set of Cleopatra, and Irene Sharaff, costume designer from the film, designed the dress. Yellow continued to be a favourite shade for Taylor, and she went on to marry husband number eight in a buttercup lace confection.
Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, 1957
Funny Face is a film made up of a flurry of high voltage fashion masterpieces as designed by Hubert de Givenchy and worn with inimitable style by Hepburn. There is the blood red opera gown, the bell-shaped wedding dress and of course the all black/penny loafer combination that came to define a certain type of Parisian intellectual. However, it is this fruit printed yellow confection that captured the hearts of the audience and embodies the 1950s chic of the movie itself.
Belle in Beauty and the Beast, 1991
There is a bit of competition from the likes of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, but really the definitive Disney Princess ball gown is the golden satin extravaganza worn by Belle in Beauty and the Beast. From the discreetly suggestive low-slung shoulders, to the hooped swags that sweep around the ballroom to the tuneful strains of Angela Lansbury’s teapot, it is the ultimate fantasy dress.
Mia Farrow in The Great Gatsby, 1974
It is commonly thought that redheads can’t wear yellow for fear of being washed out, but Mia Farrow, playing Daisy in Jack Clayton’s adaptation of Fitzgerald’s classic novel, shimmers exquisitely in the very palest lemon.
The 1960s was a decade of vivid primary colours, and Twiggy, with her helmet of blonde hair and endless eyelashes, was frequently to be found in popping yellow, sunshine trickling from sunglasses, mackintoshes, and the ubiquitous sixties shift dress. Here Cecil Beaton has her on a pedestal in mustardy satin and tangerine shoes, and we’re still swooning.
Queen Elizabeth II at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, 1977
Having reigned for more than fifty years, the Queen’s wardrobe has necessarily covered every colour in the Farrow and Ball paint chart, with yellow often being her shade of choice for the most important occasions. She sported a creamy shade at the 2012 Royal Wedding, however, our favourite is this rather brave bright yellow ensemble from 1977, matched with a polka dot turban.
Text by Tish Wrigley