What color is this dress?

What color is this dress?

I thought I’d never be asking this question again. No…I just can’t let it go…and I might have been willing to accept that the original as seen in the movie was an iridescent fabric between peach and lavender, appearing lavender or peach in certain light/movement – but I’m not sorry for revisiting colors and dresses. I find it ironic that I give Tonner such a hard time for accuracy; and yet, I have experienced what may have been something they have encountered many times over…I guess we all have our lessons to learn in life, no? Be that as it may, We recently came across this image of a gown that supposedly was THE actual dress used in the film. The dress was up for auction, and I also understand that colors can fade; even the bow, which seemed much darker in many images, seems to have suffered over time. Now compare this to the record album cover for The King and I:


Which probably led an illustrator of this paperdoll to a conclusion:


What color is this dress?

The only thing that throws me off in the album cover image is that the King’s costume seems very muted – a garnet tone – and it was a brighter shade of royal red in the film – but I’m not making his costume. I believe that the original dress was, in fact, pale copper – and it’s all about light and the way the light played on the copper-ish gown, casting a bit of blue and lavender hues, making it appear to be iridescent (perhaps that was the intent of the filmmakers). The image shown in this costuming book along with the sketch is true to the copper color described in the auction piece:

What color is this dress?

What color is this dress?

No matter how you remember the gown, I still feel we made the right choice in capturing this moment…kinda like Sleeping Beauty‘s gown, no? What color was that dress?


11 Comments on “What Color is THIS Dress?

  1. gr stupid wp lost my post. I think it was the weave with the warf one color and the warp another [think that is the correct terms]. peach copper and lavender as they are a popular combo among Oriental cothing textiles both then and now in both silk as well as rayon and poly too. Her clothing in movies was over the top beautiful both in deasigns as well as hues imo.

    • wish there was a edit button posted so fast to get it to stick didn’t check typing, you should be able to get that type of color and material from a good East Indian fabric place like they have in Hayward Calif, San Francisco or New York

      • Perhaps…for a future project. I have taffetas like this, but not in the right colors…

  2. Blue is the most fugitive dye color, followed by red. Remember all those old MA hard plastic Maggie-face Alice in Wonderland dolls with the now-pink taffeta dresses? I was a bridesmaid in 1957, and our dresses were French blue georgette over taffeta. Within three years the underskirt was pink but the georgette over it was still blue! So it’s not just the dye, apparently, but the fiber, too. The MA Alice dresses made of cotton, even from the ’40s, are still blue. This is strictly anecdotal, non-scientific observation. You remember the King and I gown as being changeant, but I only remember clear lavender. So the question really is “What color WAS this dress?”!!

    • That being said…I just don’t believe lavender would fade to this shade of peach…not when you can still see trace amounts of this color in the original film…if you look at stills and movie footage, there is a lot of reflected blue light…probably set lights…but who really knows?

  3. I think it’s what KatsCauldron says, shot fabric with lavender warp and gold weft (or whatever), which makes it shimmer and difficult to accurately describe the colour, and anyway it’s an unusual colour combination. Reminds me of Marie Antionette who was wearing a new dress of an odd pink/brown colour, and when she asked Louis what he thought of it he called it ‘puce’, which apparently means blood of a flea (the court was probably intimately familiar with all kinds of parasites so that wasn’t unusual). The original looks to be taken in white like so that further changes the colour and flatens it out. As you know, lighting is everything.

  4. I have always thought that the main color of the dress was golden-taupe, reflective to colors around it. The contrasting color used was a silver-taupe, also reflective.

    • One of the descriptions we found also described it as light copper…so I think peach was a good call…

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