Union Jack dress

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Halliwell in her now iconic red, white and blue Union Jack dress at the 1997 BRIT Awards.

The Union Jack dress was an item of clothing worn by singer Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls at the 1997 BRIT Awards. The mini dress featured a flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Jack, on the front, and a white CND symbol emblazoned on the black-coloured back of the dress. The next day the images of the dress made the front page of various newspapers around the world, and is now remembered as one of the most iconic pop moments of the 1990s and Brit Awards history. The dress has become synonymous with the Spice Girls, Halliwell and the notions of Girl Power, and Cool Britannia.[1]

According to The Daily Telegraph, the dress came top in a 2010 online poll to find the 10 most iconic dresses of the past 50 years, beating other memorable garments such as Marilyn Monroe's white 'Seven Year Itch' halterneck and the wedding dress of Diana, Princess of Wales.[2] In 2016, the dress was voted the "Most Inspiring British Fashion Moment" in an online poll conducted by British online retailer Very.[3]

In 2010, the performance in the Union Jack dress won Most Memorable Performance of 30 Years at the Brit Awards.[4] The dress held the Guinness World Record for the most expensive piece of popstar clothing dealt at auction when it was sold for £41,320 in 1998.[5]

Creation[edit]

At the 1997 BRIT Awards the Spice Girls were scheduled to perform, as well as being nominated for five awards, two of which they won.[6] The black Gucci mini dress which Halliwell was given to perform in concerned her, as she thought it was too "boring".[7] Then Halliwell decided she wanted to "celebrate being British", so she asked her sister to stitch on a Union Jack tea towel to the front as a patriotic gesture.[7] After Karen,[8] her sister, had sewn on the tea towel, Geri decided to wear it whilst performing "Who Do You Think You Are" (with excerpts of "Wannabe" in) at the BRIT Awards on 24 February 1997.

Sale[edit]

In 1998, a year after Halliwell performed in the dress, she auctioned it off at the London branch of Sotheby's for £41,320.[9] The buyer was Peter Morton, on behalf of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, who displayed the piece of clothing as pop memorabilia.[9] Morton bid via telephone, and beat other bidders such as The Sun.[10] Halliwell herself watched the "frenzied bid",[11][10] and rapped the gavel after the final bid.[11] The dress was originally valued at £12,000, but eventually it netted £36,200 (which, with the 15% commission, totalled it to £41,320).[11] Halliwell gave the proceeds of the dress sale to a children's cancer care charity.[11] The BBC commented on the sale, saying it "marks the end of Geri's links with the Girl Power image of the past".[10] It holds the Guinness World Record for the most expensive piece of popstar clothing dealt at auction.[5] The dress was one of many items of Spice Girls memorabilia sold at the auction, where total sales reached £146,511 for charity.[10] The 1998 auction, with Halliwell auctioning off the Union Jack dress as the final lot, can be seen in the documentary Geri, by documentary film-maker Molly Dineen.

2007 remake[edit]

Halliwell performing on tour wearing the Union Jack dress remake.

For the 2007 Spice Girls reunion tour, named the Return of the Spice Girls, fashion designer Roberto Cavalli designed Halliwell a new Union Jack dress modelled on the original.[12] The new version appeared slightly longer and the flag was made out of rhinestones and Swarovski crystals.[12] It was reported by various media outlets that Halliwell had attempted to buy back the original dress prior to the commencement of their world tour.[13]

Halliwell stated that ahead of the O2 Arena dates that "we are a British band and seriously proud to fly the flag. Walking out in the Union Jack dress will be special."[14] Halliwell stated in a later interview that she "liked" the new dress and that she had decided to keep it as memorabilia.[15]

2012 clothing range[edit]

In 2012 Halliwell designed a clothing range based upon the dress.[16]

2019 version[edit]

For the Spice World – 2019 Tour, Halliwell wore a redesigned floor length Union Jack dress that featured royal designs on the red stripes and also worn a crown with the dress.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Geri revisits Spice Girls' heyday in Union Jack dress". Hello Magazine. Retrieved 3 February 2015
  2. ^ Alexander, Hilary (19 May 2010). "Online poll announces the top ten most iconic dresses of the past fifty years – Telegraph". fashion.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  3. ^ "This Spice Girls Outfit Tops List of the Most Inspiring British Fashion Moments". Footwear News. 6 October 2016.
  4. ^ Amy de Klerk (22 February 2017). "It has been 20 years since Geri Halliwell wore the Union Jack dress". Harper's Bazaar.
  5. ^ a b Bruce DeMara (27 February 2008). "Spice Girls end tour in Toronto". thestar.com. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  6. ^ "The Vaults | The BRIT Awards 2012". brits.co.uk. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  7. ^ a b Sophie Eager (1 April 2010). "Geri Halliwell's infamous Union Jack dress was tea towel". Monsters and Critics. Archived from the original on 5 April 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  8. ^ Nick Levine (7 November 2007). "Ten Things You Never Knew About Geri Halliwell – Showbiz News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  9. ^ a b Barnes, Anthony (21 January 2010). "Geri Halliwell auctions her famous Union Jack dress". London: The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  10. ^ a b c d "Entertainment | Ginger Spice sells out". BBC News. 16 September 1998. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d "News – Articles – 1429897". Mtv.com. 16 September 1998. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  12. ^ a b "Recycled Spice! Geri brings back the Union Jack as 'Golden Girls' kick off world tour". London Evening Standard. 7 December 2007. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  13. ^ "Geri Halliwell's Union Jack dress (1997) – Notorious BRIT Awards moments – Pictures – Music". Virgin Media. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  14. ^ Gordon Smart (15 December 2007). "Geri Halliwell | Back in Union Jack dress | The Sun |Showbiz|Bizarre". The Sun. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  15. ^ "Geri: 'I looked like a drag queen'". metro.co.uk. 13 May 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  16. ^ "Geri revisits Spice Girls' heyday in Union Jack dress". Hello Magazine. 2 February 2012.
  17. ^ "Spice Girls first review: Geri Horner pays homage to THAT Union Jack dress as they return to stage". mirror.co.uk. 24 May 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.

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