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 perfect fit. 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. ________________________________________________________________________________ Recommended Products: 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.
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