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Marie Claire
Marie Claire
Rachel Burchfield

Elizabeth Hurley Reveals How She Avoided a Wardrobe Malfunction In Her Memorable Safety Pin Dress from Versace

Elizabeth Hurley gold safety pin Versace dress.

Versace had many memorable looks in the 1990s that carried the cultural conversation—but few were more buzzed about than Elizabeth Hurley’s so-called “safety pin dress,” worn in 1994 to then-boyfriend Hugh Grant’s premiere of his film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Unbelievably, that was 30 years ago (!), and Hurley opened up to People about how she ensured that one of her boldest looks avoided a wardrobe malfunction.

To say the dress generated is buzz is the understatement of the year. (Image credit: Getty Images)

“Well, the funny thing is actually with all couture clothes is that even though they look daring and whatever, they’re so grounded on your body,” Hurley said. “So that’s probably the first incredibly expensive dress I’d ever put on in my life.”

Before her gold safety pin dress, Hurley said she had “never even heard of Versace when I was offered that dress to wear,” she said. “It was constructed in the most extraordinary way.”

Though the Versace gown looks like 100 different wardrobe malfunctions waiting to happen, Hurley said it was so well-crafted for her body that she never worried about it not staying in place. (Image credit: Getty Images)

The bodycon dress featured a plunging neckline, a high-leg slit, and large gold safety pins running down the side; it was designed by the late Gianni Versace (who died in 1997) and was first featured on the runway on model Helena Christensen. Of that night, “Before I left the house, I bent down and touched my toes and stretched and wiggled and nothing moved, because—you don’t need to know why nothing moves, but they’re all held together somewhere,” Hurley said. “And that was my first experience of that.”

Prior to wearing the now iconic look, Hurley said she'd never even heard of Versace before. (Image credit: Getty Images)

That night in 1994 was both the first and the last time Hurley has ever worn the gown. “The last time I wore it was that day in 1994,” she said. “Then it went straight back to Versace the next day.” She also added that the dress has since “done tours,” because it is a “very famous dress,” she joked. “It has a career of its own. It’s a well-traveled dress.”

Prior to that night, Hurley was largely unknown—but, like Jennifer Lopez’s jungle green Versace dress at the 2000 Grammys, Hurley’s gown (referred to afterwards as “THAT Dress”) was all anyone could talk about that night and in the days after. This look and the ensuing media attention from it boosted Hurley’s profile substantially, and Hurley and the dress have also been credited with making Versace a household name; it was a turning point for celebrities on the whole, too, allowing them to be more daring in their red carpet looks after Hurley’s example.

Hurley's boldness opened up the red carpet to more daring looks, cementing its place in fashion history. (Image credit: Getty Images)

In 2019, Donatella Versace told InStyle that, the night before the Four Weddings and a Funeral premiere, Versace got a request from Hurley, who needed a dress for the event. “I know you’d expect something more interesting behind one of the most famous red carpet dresses in history, but, as for many things, chance played a big role in making it all happen,” Versace told InStyle. “No one could really fathom such an astonishing reaction, or that Liz would steal the spotlight from everyone else.” Versace said Hurley tried on the look, which “flattered her perfectly”—and the rest was history.

Hurley wore the dress a full 30 years ago this year. (Image credit: Getty Images)

“It was just amazing to have something on that was so beautifully crafted,” Hurley told People. “And it looked incredibly daring, but it was actually completely safe. Like wearing the bathrobe, really.”

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