The photo that changed fashion forever.

If you were to conjure an image of typical 1950s fashion, there’s no doubt the visual would be brimming with knee-length skirts and shoulder covering tops.

It was an era, like most before it, of conservative clothing.

The bikini had been invented only a handful of years before, and society was still grappling with the fact hem lines were creeping towards the knee.

And then Vikki Dougan came along.

Image: Life Magazine.

Dougan, who was doing her best to crack into the entertainment industry, was propelled to fame thanks to a Hollywood publicist who commissioned a series of photos taken of the model in backless dresses.

And the images did wonders for Dougan's career, and in turn wonders for the fashion industry. This was the first time the backless dress made serious waves. And perhaps the first time anyone took the concept seriously.


These were images that would change the fashion industry forever.

Vikki Dougan in 1957. Image: Getty.

In 1957, the Oakland Tribune wrote a piece about how Dougan's style, and subsequent rise to prominence, was part of a carefully crafted image created for her by publicity man Milton Weiss.

Initially, he decided to have three backless dresses made for her. He then gave his client the nickname The Back, and had her wearing a backless creation in almost all of her public appearances.

And so, the backless dress was born.

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