Great Britain

Hugh Grant: Liz Hurley only wore Versace safety-pin dress because she was snubbed by other designers

Hugh Grant has revealed Liz Hurley only wore the now-iconic Versace safety-pin dress because she had been snubbed by other designers who didn’t know who she was.

Hurley, 54, wore the dress to the 1994 premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral, which she attended with her then-boyfriend, Grant.

At the time, Hurley was not famous, but the dramatic design of the dress attracted such press attention that she became a household name overnight.

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Now Grant, 59, has told a new BBC documentary, that when Hurley called up fashion houses asking if she could borrow something to wear for the red carpet, they declined.

He says this was because they had not heard of her. "Poor Elizabeth rang some top designers and they all said: 'No, who are you?' or 'No, we're not lending you anything’.

"Then Versace said: 'Yes, we'll lend you a dress', and they just sent one round which is that one with the safety pins. So she shoved it on and I raised my eyebrows a fraction and we set off."

The black, floor-skimming dress became iconic because of its unusual, and revealing design. Designed by Gianni Versace, the same dress had been modelled by Helena Christiensen on the SS/94 catwalk. 

Plunging down to the ribs from double shoulder straps and slit up to the top of the thigh, the fabric was kept together by 24 oversized gold safety pins.

Hurley has previously said she had no idea how historic the look would become, telling Harper’s Bazaar in 2014 that the look was rather more serendipitous than planned:

"I'm delighted a dress I wore might be something someone would think about, but it wasn't really that big a deal to me at the time”, she said.

“I urgently needed to find a dress to wear for Hugh’s premiere”, she told the magazine. “I remember going to an office where they literally fished a dress out of a white plastic bag”.

In 2002, it became the star attraction at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Versace retrospective; in 2007, a new version of the dress was on sale in Harrods for £10,000 and in 2013 it appeared at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the exhibition Punk: Chaos to Couture. It even has its own Wikipedia page.

Now colloquially known as ‘that dress’, countless celebrities have since attempted to emulate the look, including Lady Gaga, who wore the dress in 2012.

In the documentary Richard Curtis reveals that Grant was nearly not cast in Four Weddings And A Funeral

"We had auditioned about 60 people for the leading role and none of them were funny," he said.

"I had such a prejudice against him because he was so posh and so handsome, and I thought that someone that handsome wouldn't be having that much trouble with girls."

Hugh Grant: A Life On Screen airs at 9pm on BBC Two on December 23.