Last night in New York, Donatella Versace brought back the plunging chiffon dress made famous by Jennifer Lopez at the 2000 Grammy awards. Here’s five things you might not have known about the era-defining gown
A good red carpet gown will land you in newspaper best-dressed lists; a great red carpet gown will elevate you to near-otherworldly status. Such was the case with Jennifer Lopez who, in 2000, selected a Spring/Summer 2000 Versace dress for that year’s Grammy awards. In semi-sheer palm tree-print chiffon, the cleavage-bearing, plunging-beyond-the-navel creation would become the klaxon-call for noughties excess, and make Lopez a superstar.
Yesterday evening the gown returned, raised by Donatella Versace on the runway in New York, where the Italian mega-house hosted their first Pre-Fall show at the city’s Stock Exchange. Worn by model and longtime Versace muse Amber Valletta, the original Hawaiian print gave way to repeated coloured hearts, inspired by artist Jim Dine’s Pop Art print for Gianni Versace in 1997. In celebration of the dress’s return, five things you might not have known about the legendary gown.
1. Amber Valletta wore it first
“Versace’s requisite ingredients were all present: sex, bright colours and rock-hard attitude,” wrote American Vogue of Versace’s Spring/Summer 2000 collection, which saw Valletta open the show in the first iteration of the cleavage-bearing gown, albeit in a shorter length. Accessorised with just-ruffled blown-out hair, plenty of eyeshadow and strappy bejewelled sandals, it defined Donatella’s vision of the noughties jet-set woman, and set the tone for a brand new era of no-holds-barred excess. Elsewhere in the dialled-up collection, Hawaiian prints abounded – across strappy handkerchief tops, brocade trousers and teeny-tiny swim trunks for the Versace boy. Valletta would also don the gown for the house’s Spring 2000 campaign, photographed by Steven Meisel.
2. Jennifer Lopez was not the first person to wear it on the red carpet
In fact, that honour went (naturally) to Donatella Versace herself, who accessorised a sleeveless version of the gown with actor Matt Dillon (also in Versace) on her arm at the 1999 Met Gala in New York. Lopez was not even the first songstress to wear it on the red carpet – a peroxide-blonde Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls wore the very same gown to the NRJ Music Awards in Cannes, France in 2000, a month before the Grammy awards. Unlike JLo, though, Halliwell’s Versace turn went near-entirely unnoticed.
3. It basically invented Google Image Search
There was once a world without Google Image Search, and there might still be, had it not been for Jennifer Lopez. “At the time, it was the most popular search query we had ever seen,” wrote then-executive chairman of Google Eric Schmidt in 2015. “But we had no surefire way of getting users exactly what they wanted: JLo wearing that dress.” And so, months later, Google Image Search was born. When asked whether she wished to be remunerated for her role, JLo quipped: “Just a small part of it... a truck full of money.”
4. Another iconic dress was recreated last night
The Versace archives were also raided for perhaps the only dress more legendary – the 1994 ‘safety-pin dress’ (or ‘THAT dress’) worn by Liz Hurley to the 1994 premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral, which saw not the birth of Google Image Search, but Hurley herself, who became an overnight star. “That dress was a favour from Versace because I couldn’t afford to buy one,” Hurley later said. “[Hugh Grant’s] people told me they didn’t have any evening wear, but there was one item left in their press office. So I tried it on and that was it.” Yesterday evening, the new iteration of the slashed and safety-pinned gown was worn by Italian supermodel Vittoria Ceretti.
5. The dress’ final resting place is in Jennifer Lopez’s closet
Or so the story goes. As of 2012, it was housed in the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. “I would wear something like that,” she said at the time. “I wouldn’t have a problem with it.” Since then, word has it that Lopez has reclaimed the dress as her own, and it hangs inside her own wardrobe, ready for possible redux. For those without access to Lopez’s closet, and who cannot wait for this latest this latest Pre-Fall collection to arrive in stores, a version of the original S/S00 runway dress is currently available for sale at 1stdibs for £5,790.57. A steal.