An iconic dress cannot merely be a dress that made its wearer look nice, nor is it a dress that is so interestingly unusual or quirky thus temporarily generating interest. An iconic dress is one which takes the moment and makes it her own. An iconic dress perseveres a moment in fashion history which will become legendary to the extent that it can even overshadow its wearer in its fame.

Geri Halliwell made one such moment in 1997, at the BRIT awards. She had been given a black Gucci mini dress to wear for the Spice Girls’ performance, but this was not the statement that Ms Halliwell wanted to make. She said she wanted to ‘celebrate being British.’ Which she certainly did. For that one evening at the 1997 BRIT awards, the woman known as Ginger Spice became Great Britain. She embodied the symbolic representation of our country by wearing a Union Jack dress. The dress was remarkable for more than just its patriotic associations; at the risk of sounding like someone’s dad, it really was more like a top than a dress due to its somewhat lacking in the length department. Halliwell’s pants were clearly visible when she was wearing it, which I am sure only helped in catapulting this dress straight into the fashion history books.

The dress started out as the Gucci mini dress that Halliwell’s management had intended for her to wear, which Geri’s sister customised with a Union Jack tea towel, and thus the iconic dress was born. The legacy of the dress lives on forever as it is on display in The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The dress had a moment of revival in 2007 for the Spice Girls reunion tour. Roberto Cavalli made a replica of the dress, and it was more glitzy and powerful than ever. It was a little longer than the original and the flag was embellished in rhinestones and crystals, so Halliwell literally sparkled when she wore it.

This dress is iconic because it represents a whole generation of idols and musical inspiration. After the appearance of that dress in the international media, little girls everywhere were sporting Union Jack-bearing t-shirts and dresses and even now, fifteen years later, anyone at a fancy dress party wearing a dress bearing our flag is instantly identifiable as being dressed as Ginger Spice. That is what makes a dress iconic.

Almost 15 years since Geri made fashion history when she performed at the 1997 BRIT Awards in the patriotic skimpy number yet the Union Jack dress still lives on. Geri Halliwell has re-designed the dress for her clothing range for Next “with everything that is happening this year such as the Olympics and the Jubilee it just felt the right time to design an updated version” Halliwell said in a statement. The longer length, sequined cowl neck dress is set to hit Next stores in early March.

Image from Next

Jessica Allen-Summers


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