Amber Valletta may not have broken the internet with it, but she undoubtedly did it first: wearing the iconic jungle-print Versace gown that left everyone in awe. Jennifer Lopez may have etched herself in fashion history by wearing that daring piece to the 2000 Grammys, but Valletta walked the runway in it for Versace’s spring/summer 1999 show, a year earlier. In an episode of Vogue’s “Life in Looks” series, Valletta walked us through her fashion journey, highlighting some of her most iconic moments, including when she wore this jaw-dropping dress. “This dress has been Googled more times than any other look in history, it literally broke the internet when [Lopez] wore it, so it’s kind of cool to be a part of that history”, she revealed.
Valletta went on to explain how the dress changed the trajectory of red carpet fashion. “At the time, people didn’t really show a lot of skin in Hollywood, it was very rare, and then Lopez wore this dress and it was sort of like this pivotal moment where it was like, we can show skin, and we can be really sexy, and it’s okay. It was sort of like she just gave us permission to really be ourselves and to be proud of our bodies and to show them off.”
The iconic gown had a life of its own even before Lopez got hold of it. In fact, Donatella Versace loved the dress so much that after Valletta strutted it on the runway, she wore it herself for the 1999 “Rock Style”-themed Met Gala. A few months later, Spice Girl Geri Halliwell wore it to the NRJ Music Awards in Cannes, France. When Lopez wore her version to the Grammys, it wasn’t exactly the same as the dress Valletta had worn a year prior. Donatella Versace took the mid-length style and transformed it into a floor-length gown for Lopez to wear. Not only did the outfit make a huge splash on the red carpet, but it also inspired the team at Google to launch the now-ubiquitous Google Image Search feature, as people across the globe searched for a glimpse of Lopez in her dress.
Twenty years after Lopez’s groundbreaking fashion moment and almost twenty-two years after Valletta’s, the Versace gown is still making fashion headlines. Lopez herself rocked a modernized version of it to close out Versace’s Spring/Summer 2020 show. Her updated version bared even more skin than the original, with a bedazzled unitard and lots of sex appeal. It’s a testament to the gown’s enduring legacy, and a fitting tribute to both Valletta’s and Lopez’s groundbreaking fashion moments. By paving the way for more body-positive, daring fashion choices, they have inspired women everywhere to embrace their bodies and their sense of style.