Elizabeth Hurley is going back in time, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. The 53-year-old actress is addressing one of her most famous dresses — that headline-making, thigh-slitted, iconic black stretch-silk Versace dress held together by large gold safety pins that put her on the map. Hurley famously wore the life-changing frock to the London premiere of her then-boyfriend Hugh Grant’s film, Four Weddings and a Funeral, back in 1994. A quarter-century later, it still holds up.
Back in the day, Elizabeth Hurley was still a little-known actress, but that dress changed everything. In a new interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Hurley revealed that she was totally “unprepared” for what happened when she wore the Versace dress on that fateful night 25 years ago.
The star admitted that she “urgently” needed to find something to wear to boyfriend Hugh Grant’s movie premiere and that in those days, she knew nothing about fashion. She was later given the name of a PR agency that offered to lend her a dress, which she fished out of a plastic bag and took home to get ready for the movie premiere by herself in her one-bedroom flat. Hurley describes the entire production as “very unglamorous.”
Hours later, Hurley stole the red carpet in that dress. Donatella Versace later told Harper’s that her late brother had a mission in mind when he created the safety pin dress.
“Gianni made that dress for a woman who is sure of herself and who isn’t afraid to break the rules. Liz embodied all of this in an extraordinary way.”
As for Hurley, wearing Versace’s dress turned out to be her biggest career break. The dress got her noticed, and a year later she was named the face of makeup giant Estee Lauder.
While Hurley says the original Versace safety pin dress would still fit her, she feels that at age 53, it wouldn’t be “appropriate” for her to wear it. She also had to return the famous dress the day after the Four Weddings and a Funeral premiere, so she no longer has the dress in her possession. Instead, she is now modeling a reimagined version of the peekaboo dress, which she describes as “more demure.” The updated dress features a sleeve, more fabric across the top for coverage, and the safety pins now keep a sash in place.
As for that 1994 dress, which is so iconic it even has its own Wikipedia page, Elizabeth Hurley never imagined people would still be talking about it two decades later.
Of course, while she doesn’t have much interest in wearing the Versace safety pin dress ever again, Hurley isn’t acting “demure” in her 50s. The actress and swimwear designer frequently poses in her Elizabeth Hurley Beachwear, reminding women everywhere that you’re never too old to wear a sparkly bikini.