THAT dress, as this became known, was the last one at the Versace press office when a young model named Elizabeth Hurley picked up the phone to try and find a loaner for her boyfriend’s movie premiere. Days later she wore it to the London screening of Four Weddings and a Funeral, and it turned her into a household name. She famously said of it,”Unlike many other designers, Versace designs clothes to celebrate the female form rather than eliminate it,” and — per That Dress’s own Wikipedia page — was also instrumental in both shaping Versace’s future trajectory and making the brand itself more widely known (this was, after all, a year before Showgirls and “Ver-say-se”). That’s a lot of fallout from one desperation phone call.
My memory of this dress is always wrong, though. I’ll never forget it, but at the same time, my brain always wants to conjure it with more safety pins, and ones that go all the way down. I think that’s because the reaction to the dress was so big that my brain somehow logged the gown itself as being even BIGGER. Another interesting thing is how understyled the rest of her is: pretty plain hair, plain makeup, all very straightforward. (Notably, even the usually robustly stage-designed Lady Gaga kept it restrained by her standards when she donned That Dress in 2012.) For an ensemble so daring, you don’t see any strain behind the look; compared with today, you don’t feel as if Liz was meticulously pored over and micro-managed. Honestly, it’s clever. This was the world’s first real exposure to Liz. She knew exactly how much attention this was going to get — she HAD to — and she found a way to make That Dress come across more like a second skin, an easy-breezy vibe. “Oh this?” that hair and makeup says. “I’m often to be found banging around in my safety pins, aren’t you?”