It was 1994 that current English heartbreaker Hugh Grant was staged at his own film premiere for Four weddings and a funeral – Not because of his sultry date, Elizabeth Hurley, but because of the black Versace safety pin dress that would make her a night star. While many of us may be familiar with one of Versace's most iconic creations, you'd be happy to discover the lesser-known details that made this dress one of the most iconic moments of 90s pop culture.
Elizabeth "Liz" Hurley was an unknown actor when she arrived on the film's red carpet with aspiring actor and boyfriend Hugh Grant at the time. Instead of just being another pretty face at a premiere, her black Versace dress, held together by gold safety pins, became the topic of conversation for the entire event. Donatella Versace said in several interviews that a dress is a weapon for a woman to get what she wants, and Hurley knew exactly how to use her style to get enough attention to build her decade-long career . But it wasn't easy to get media attention Perplexed Actor because on that eve of the Four weddings and a funeral At her premiere, she actually struggled to get a designer to lend her a dress.
Hugh Grant admitted that numerous fashion houses had refused his request to Hurley to borrow a dress for the premiere because they didn't know who she was. "There was a big premiere and someone told us: Oh, you can borrow things from top designers," Grant admitted in the BBC documentary Hugh Grant: Life on the Screen. "Poor Elizabeth called some top designers and they all said, & # 39; no, who are you? & # 39; or & # 39; no, we don't lend you anything. & # 39; Then Versace said," Yes "We'll lend you a dress," and they just sent a lap that is the safety pin. So she pushed it open and I raised my eyebrows a little and we made our way. "
"You'd expect something more interesting behind one of the most famous red carpet dresses in history, but as with many things, chance played a big part in making everything possible." – Donatella Versace
The dress raised her eyebrows to say the least. The daring evening dress, originally modeled by Helena Christensen on Versace's spring / summer 1994 runway show, was made from black silk and lycra. It had a plunging neckline, narrow straps and cut-off pieces on the sides, each held together with a gold Medusa head safety pin on the chest, and six strategically placed safety pins along the top. Gianni Versace was quoted in a 1997 text by Richard Harrison Martin for the Metropolitan Museum of Art that the dress from the punk subculture (hence the safety pins) and the Indian sari (as seen in the wrap-around design of) can be seen in the silhouette) .
Naomi Campbell, Gianni Versace and Christy Turlington in Versace in Spring / Summer 1994. Getty Images
Donatella Versace shared the chance encounter that led to one of the most historic moments on her label. "You'd expect something more interesting behind one of the most famous red carpet dresses in history, but when it comes to a lot of things, chance played a big part in making everything possible," she revealed in The InStyle 25th anniversary edition. "Nobody could really imagine such an amazing reaction, or that Liz would steal the limelight from everyone else." For the last minute request for a dress on the red carpet, the safety pin dress happened to be the only thing available in the press room. "People around the world started talking about the dress. Then we started to see the power of the red carpet and the celebrities in creating conversation topics." Donatella spoke on behalf of her late brother Gianni Harper & # 39; s Bazaar that "Gianni made this dress for a woman who is sure of herself and not afraid to break the rules. Liz embodied all of this in an extraordinary way."
The iconic nature of this dress is enduring, but only recently Hurley has given the full report on that night while modeling the replica of the original 1994 design for the Italian brand's fall 2019 Harper & # 39; s Bazaar. "I urgently needed to find a dress for Hugh's premiere, and I had no idea about fashion at the time," says Hurley in the April 2019 issue of the magazine. "I remember going to an office where they literally fished a dress out of a white plastic bag. I took it home and did my own hair and makeup to Hugh around the mirror to struggle that wasn't even full length one bedroom apartment. It was all very unimpressive compared to how things are done these days. "
The original Versace spring / summer 1994 safety pin dress may be hidden in an archive, but the fall 2019 recovery is still available for £ 6,060 on the brand's website. And as we think about the phenomenally random encounter of a dress left behind that rocketed three careers in one night, read on to take a closer look at the dress that wrote the fashion history of the 90s.