Dress worn by Whoopi Goldberg and Desreta Jackson as Celie in The Color Purple

Designed by
Rodgers, Aggie Guerard, American, born 1943
Manufactured by
Palace Costume Company, American, founded 1990
Worn by
Goldberg, Whoopi, American, born 1955
Jackson, Desreta, Virgin Islander, born 1975
Subject of
Walker, Alice, American, born 1944
cotton, lace, tape, and metal buttons
H x W x D (On form): 53 1/2 × 20 × 16 1/2 in. (135.9 × 50.8 × 41.9 cm)
Place used
North Carolina, United States, North and Central America
California, United States, North and Central America
Blue floral print dress worn by Whoopi Goldberg as the character Celie Harris Johnson and by Desreta Jackson as Young Celie in the film "The Color Purple." The ankle-length long-sleeved dress is made from a printed cotton with a design of pale green five-petal flowers with pink rose sprigs in the center. The flower run down a cream stripe with a styled geometric motif in brown and are spaced at even intervals that alternate horizontally. The floral stripe is on a dark blue ground with faux ikat elements in cream. The dress closes at the center front with eight (8) round metal buttons with an engraved floral design sewn in a line to a button band made of dark blue twill. There is also one (1) small black snap at the top of the button band just under the collar. The dress has a squared yoke with two wide pleats on each front side and a spread collar with a ruffled edge and a square back. Two parallel lines of brown trim with a cream diamond woven design are sewn around the collar. The same brown trim is sewn around the cuffs of both sleeves, which also end in a ruffle of the blue floral print and are edged with cream cotton with a floral spring cutwork embroidery design and a scalloped edge. The full skirt ends with a wide pleated panel, a band of thin cream woven tape near the hem, and cream embroidered scalloped lace extending below the hem.
The back of the dress has a square yoke and a center double box pleat that is stitched down at the natural waistline so that the pleating continues below the waist. The waist has two parallel lines of stitching spaced approximately one inch apart to create a drawstring casing. A light brown fabric tie is sewn along the interior center back with the ends left loose to be tied around the wearer's waist. The dress is not lined except the yoke, which is backed in the blue floral print fabric. There are three tags at the interior center back neck, two sewn on top of each other and the third is a barcode adhered directly to the dress that reads above the barcode "PALACE COSTUME CO." and below the barcode "37008506". The bottom of the two stacked tags is a white cloth label with black handwritten text reading "D112" above brown printed text that reads "Palace Costume Co."; the top label is a white cloth label with black handwritten text reading "DESIRITA".
African American
Clothing and dress
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture

NOTE: Cataloging is an ongoing process and we may update this record as we conduct additional research and review. If you have more information about this object, please contact us at NMAAHCDigiTeam@si.edu.