Even prior to the Internet’s prevalence, there was one brand still breaking it: Versace. We all know the impact of Jennifer Lopez’s sheer palm-print dress worn to the 2000 Grammy Awards (as a refresher, it catalyzed Google Images), but there were several gowns from the Italian fashion label that made international headlines years before. The most memorable? Elizabeth Hurley’s safety pin dress.
In 1994, the model/actress accompanied then-boyfriend Hugh Grant to the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral, stepping out on the red carpet in a Versace number that was cut down the belly button, held together at the sides with a number of ornate gold safety pins. There was also several thigh-high slits thrown in, because, you know, this is Versace. Since then, it’s been referred to by academics as “THAT dress,” gone on display on Victoria and Albert Museum in London, been documented in its own Wikipedia page, and been worn by Lady Gaga.
And now it’s back…kind of. Donatella Versace’s pre-fall 2019 collection included a take on the original gown, updated as an asymmetrical number with a mesh sleeve and a single slit. And guess who, 25 years on, donned the look right off the runway. That’s right, our lord and savior, Liz.
For the April issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Hurley discussed the mythical origins of the dress and how it catapulted her career (she landed an Estée Lauder campaign soon after the fact).
“I was so unprepared for what happened that night,” Hurley told the magazine about the night she wore the original Versace dress. “I urgently needed to find a dress to wear for Hugh’s premiere, and in those days I had no idea about fashion. I remember going to an office where they literally fished a dress out of a white plastic bag.”