It was only a slip of a
dress, made from a few feet of black crepe and
24 gold safety pins. It was enough to catapult Gianni
Versace (1946-1997) into the limelight. Worn in 1994 by model
and actress Elizabeth Hurley to the premiere of boyfriend Hugh
Grant's Four Weddings and a Funeral in London, the Versace
dress got at least as much attention as the movie
itself. "That Dress," as it came to be called, was
later described as Versace's greatest coup.
While Versace featured the dress on the
catwalk in his Milan fashion show earlier that year, this
was the first time it had been worn in public.
Hurley, in search of an outfit for the occasion, called
on Versace for help. Having modeled in his runway shows,
she was invited to Versace's showroom to select a dress
of her choice. After trying on several, "That Dress" caught
Hurley's eye. The all-black, sleeveless, ankle-length dress was split high
in the thigh and low in the plunging neckline. The
most innovative part of its design was the 24 large,
gold safety pins used to hold it together at the
side seams. When Hurley slipped into it, it was a
The morning after the premiere, pictures of
Hurley in the dress were splashed all over the newspapers.
"That Dress" was both criticized by the press for being
shockingly revealing and at the same time, praised for being
beautifully crafted. "No one could deny the precision of the
cutting or doubt Versace's ability to contour a dress exquisitely
to the body," reported the Financial Times in London.
To those who besieged the Versace headquarters
with calls that same morning in search of the dress,
the news was disappointing. There was only one version of
the dress, and it was not for sale. "That Dress"
was returned to Versace, who kept it in his permanent
archive collection in Milan, where it resides today.
Do Not Disturb (Book)
by G. Versace, R. Avedon et al.
Get a private peek at Versace's gorgeous muses and the opulent and extravagant interiors of his many residences. A quintessential Versace photo album.
The bikini was first unveiled in 1946
by Louis Réard, a Frenchman who helped run his mother's
lingerie business. He named his two-piece swimsuit after Bikini Atoll,
a clump of islands in the Pacific where the atomic
bomb was tested. He chose the name to match his
intentions to shock society and make an explosion in the
fashion world. While he assumed the bikini would be an
instant sensation, he was wrong. It would be almost two
decades before bikinis were accepted as mainstream fashion.
Réard hadn't created the concept of two-piece
swimsuits. As part of wartime rationing in 1943, the US
Government ordered a 10 percent reduction in the fabric used
in women's swimwear. Suddenly, women's navels and waists were fully
exposed, and Réard was the first to shrink his suit
down to a mere 30 inches of fabric--the same size
as the skimpiest of underwear.
Parisian models reportedly refused to wear Réard's
creation, citing it as too revealing. So the frustrated inventor
hired a nude dancer in Paris to pose for photos
while wearing the bikini. When the photos hit the press,
the model was sent thousands of fan letters, praising both
her body and the bathing suit. In Spain, Italy, and
various other predominately Catholic countries, the bikini was banned, and
Americans were outraged by it.
The bikini finally found American popularity in
1963 when the movie Beach Party starring Annette Funicello--the first
in a series starring her and Frankie Avalon--hit the big
screen. In all of the movies, beautiful young women danced
along the beach wearing bikinis. The movies were innocent, simple,
and fun--and succeeded in turning the risqué bikini into a
contemporary and acceptable style. Women have been wearing the skimpy
suits ever since.