Black Versace dress of Elizabeth Hurley

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Black Versace dress of Elizabeth Hurley
That Dress.jpg
ArtistVersace
Year1994 (1994)
Type"Safety-pin" black Versace dress

English actress and model Elizabeth Hurley wore a black Versace dress, often referred to as "THAT Dress",[1][2] when she accompanied Hugh Grant to the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral in 1994. The dress was held together by several oversized gold safety pins.[3][4] The dress is perhaps Versace's best-known creation,[5] and is considered by some to be largely responsible for launching Hurley onto the global media stage.[3][6][7]

Background[edit]

In advance of the premiere for Four Weddings and a Funeral and as a newcomer to high profile premieres, Grant had been told that he and his partner would be able to borrow designer clothing to wear to such an event. Inexperienced in such matters and relatively unknown, Hurley contacted various fashion houses asking for such a loan but was rebuffed several times because they did not know who she was. On contacting the Versace Flagship Store on Old Bond Street, Hurley spoke to Dean Aslett, Head of Womenswear and Atelier and who was also in charge of dresses loaned out for press and promotional purposes. He agreed to do Hurley a favour and loan her a dress.[8][9]

Design[edit]

The black dress was made from pieces of silk and lycra fabric, with oversized gold safety pins placed at "strategical places".[10] The dress was wide open at the front, from the neck down to halfway across the bosom, with two slimline straps on the shoulders. Each side featured a cut-away part, held together with six gold safety pins along the side, and one at the top of either cut-away, connecting it to the bosom section. The dress is said to be punk-inspired, "neo-punk",[5] and something which "emerged from the sari development" according to Gianni Versace himself.[2][11]

Influence[edit]

The dress is perhaps Versace's best-known creation,[5] as it received considerable global coverage in newspapers and magazines around the world for a long time after the event and was credited for boosting Hurley's profile, hurling her from being a virtually unknown actress to worldwide media recognition.[3][6][12] Hurley has also been credited for making the Versace fashion brand a household name.[4][13] The brand has since, with its omnipresent Medusa-head logo, "defined the paradoxes of a controversial, new-generation feminism which celebrates empowerment in the act of attracting and manipulating a male gaze."[14] The dress topped a 2008 Debenhams' poll that asked 3,000 women to select their favourite iconic red-carpet dress.[3] The dress was also celebrated for revolutionizing acceptable attire at red-carpet events, making it more acceptable for other actresses and celebrities to be more bold and daring.[7]

In 2007, a copy of the dress worn by Hurley was put on sale for the first time – with a price tag of £10,690 – at Harrods, as part of an exhibition dedicated to "the little black dress" at the London store.[15] The exhibition included the famous black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1963 movie Charade, as part of the Harrods Timeless Luxury promotion.

In 2012, pop singer Lady Gaga wore the dress to meet Donatella Versace in Milan.[16] Gaga promoted Versace by wearing archive pieces in her music video for the song "The Edge of Glory".

Controversy[edit]

Some viewed the dress as too lewd or distastefully revealing.[17][18] Hurley said in response to comments about the revealing nature of the dress, "Unlike many other designers, Versace designs clothes to celebrate the female form rather than eliminate it."[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grant, Kimberly (September 2002). Miami and the Keys. Lonely Planet. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-74059-183-6. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  2. ^ a b Pedersen, Stephanie (30 November 2004). Bra: a thousand years of style, support and seduction. David & Charles. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-7153-2067-9. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Urmee Khan (9 October 2008). "Liz Hurley 'safety pin' dress voted the greatest dress". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  4. ^ a b Waxler, Caroline (2004). Stocking up on sin: how to crush the market with vice-based investing. John Wiley and Sons. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-471-46513-3. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  5. ^ a b c White, Nicola; Griffiths, Ian (2000). The fashion business: theory, practice, image. Berg Publishers. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-85973-359-2. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  6. ^ a b Saren, Michael (24 May 2006). Marketing graffiti: the view from the street. Butterworth-Heinemann. p. 226. ISBN 978-0-7506-5697-9. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Remember when Liz Hurley wore 'that' dress?". CNN. 7 March 2020. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  8. ^ https://evoke.ie/2021/03/13/style/dress-drama-the-untold-story-of-liz-hurleys-iconic-versace-dress-dean-aslett
  9. ^ "Hugh Grant: Liz Hurley was snubbed by designers before safety-pin dress moment". www.irishexaminer.com. December 21, 2019.
  10. ^ McRobbie, Angela (26 June 1998). British fashion design: rag trade or image industry?. Routledge. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-415-05781-3. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  11. ^ Martin, Richard Harrison; Versace, Gianni (December 1997). Gianni Versace. Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 978-0-87099-842-3. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  12. ^ Seal, Mark (15 February 2007). Celebrated Weekends: The Stars' Guide to the Most Exciting Destinations in the World. Thomas Nelson Inc. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-4016-0243-7. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  13. ^ Gundle, Stephen (2008). Glamour: a history. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-921098-5. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  14. ^ Margary, Alex. "Versace for H&M The Film". Metro Velvet. Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Liz Hurley's famous Versace dress on sale". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 19 September 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  16. ^ "Lady Gaga dares to wear That Dress", theguardian.com, 3 October 2012
  17. ^ D'Epiro, Peter; Pinkowish, Mary Desmond (2 October 2001). Sprezzatura: 50 ways Italian genius shaped the world. Anchor Books. ISBN 978-0-385-72019-9. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  18. ^ Bruzzi, Stella; Gibson, Pamela Church (2000). Fashion cultures: theories, explorations, and analysis. Routledge. p. 341. ISBN 978-0-415-20685-3. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  19. ^ "Liz Hurley's safety pin frock changed how we get dressed (and that includes Miley's nipple pasties...)". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2016.