Wednesday 24 April 2019

If we saw Liz's safety-pin dress on the red carpet today, we'd think it was understated

Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant in 1994
Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant in 1994
Actress Elizabeth Hurley wears a Giani Versace dress to the premiere of 'Four Weddings and A Funeral' held in Leicester Square on March 09, 1994 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Caroline Leaper

Elizabeth Hurley, at 53, has revisited a seminal look from her 20s - that Versace safety-pin dress.

Posing for the new issue of Harper's Bazaar, Hurley's 2019 version has a little more fabric than the 1994 edition (a long sleeve on one side and covered cleavage) but the gold pins are still there and still sexy, holding together one subtle slash across her toned stomach. "[It's] more demure," she says, noting that the original still fits her. "But just because it still fits, doesn't mean I would wear it today - it wouldn't be appropriate!"

It would be interesting to know what she means by "appropriate". Does Hurley feel a need to now dress 'for her age'? I don't think that's it at all. I think what she's getting at here is a wider shift in celebrity culture, and what constitutes 'daring' red carpet attire these days. If I saw Elizabeth Hurley's Versace safety-pin dress for the first time on the red carpet now, frankly, I'd think it was understated.

It is worth remembering, in this Instagram-fuelled day and age, why the original was such a groundbreaking fashion moment. It was the premiere of Four Weddings And A Funeral, starring Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant, and Hurley, then a little-known actress, was Grant's new-ish girlfriend.

Actress Elizabeth Hurley wears a Giani Versace dress to the premiere of 'Four Weddings and A Funeral' held in Leicester Square on March 09, 1994 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Actress Elizabeth Hurley wears a Giani Versace dress to the premiere of 'Four Weddings and A Funeral' held in Leicester Square on March 09, 1994 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Elegant minimalists like Giorgio Armani were leading the way on the red carpet at the time, so when the new girl Hurley turned up wearing a piece of Gianni Versace-slashed fabric, pinned back together, the photographers turned their lenses accordingly. Hurley became a global sensation overnight and it was perhaps the first time that a single red carpet fashion appearance, and a single dress, had been used (intentionally or not) as a move to secure a star's future, global career. "I took it home and did my own hair and make-up, fighting Hugh for the mirror, which wasn't even full-length, in our tiny one-bedroom flat," Hurley remembers of getting ready before the premiere. "It was all very unglamorous compared to how things get done these days."

These days, 'glam squads' are employed - stylist, hairdresser, make-up artist, manicurist, tailor, facialist, personal trainer, dietician et al - to buff, sculpt and preen celebrities of all calibres for an appearance. Even the Love Island contestants have image 'consultants'.

Nothing shocks us these days when it comes to red carpet dressing. From Lady Gaga clad in beef steaks, to Rihanna wearing nothing but diamonds, and Cardi B in pearls blossoming from a pale pink clam shell - I barely blink at any of it. I think we've seen every type of wow-and-awe tactic employed and exhausted now. Everything has been normalised.

Hurley says she was "so unprepared" for what happened that night in 94 - scoring the fashion moment of a decade and the global press that followed. It was all spontaneous and a bit last minute, a case of fumbling to get ready in a dodgy mirror and bad lighting at an old boyfriend's flat. It's funny how refreshing that all sounds, isn't it, in a world where every trip to the shops is so slickly styled and staged.

Telegraph.co.uk

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