7 of Elizabeth Hurley's most iconic outfits
With her 90s off-duty looks and myriad Versace dresses, the English actress and model set the blueprint for today’s influencer style.
Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic, by KMazur/WireImage and by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Queen of the naked dress — and wearer of one of the most iconic dresses of all time — English actress Elizabeth Hurley is a style icon for the ages. After wearing that Versace dress to the premiere of then-beau Hugh Grant’s star-making film Four Weddings and a Funeral, Elizabeth went from relatively unknown actress to tabloid fashion plate, overnight. The iconic safety pin dress moment marked not only Liz’s rise to international fame, but the beginning of a lifelong relationship between the actress and the Italian fashion house; one that would colour Liz’s style both on and off the red carpet. In addition to wearing head-to-toe Versace, the model-actress frequently donned 90s fashion’s sexiest signifiers. Think metal mesh, halter necklines and side slits, bandage dresses, Tom Ford’s Gucci, sequins, lamé and mesh, all in candy hues and neon tones. In honour of the fashion icon’s 56th birthday, we take a look back at some of her most iconic outfits of all time.
At the “Four Weddings and a Funeral” premiere, 1994
In 1994, Elizabeth Hurley was launched from relative obscurity to international fame thanks to a single black Versace dress. But did you know that the now-iconic fashion moment almost didn’t happen? Tasked with finding a loaner dress to wear to her first high-profile premiere (for then-beau Hugh Grant’s star-making movie Four Weddings and a Funeral), Liz contacted several fashion brands and was rejected by each, before finally calling around to Versace. However, the then-relatively unknown Italian house took a chance on the actress, loaning her a gown from their SS94 collection. It paid off; and the rest is fashion history. The dress — a plunging silk number held together by a series of safety pins — transformed Liz from unknown actress to media darling and catapulted Versace to the forefront of mainstream fashion. It also marked the beginning of a lifelong — and endlessly iconic — relationship between the actress and fashion house.
At an Estée Lauder press event, 1995
Liz’s Versace dress moment transformed the actress into an it-girl overnight. Naturally, the fashion and beauty industries took notice — and came knocking. Despite having no prior modelling experience, in 1995, the actress became the face of global beauty brand Estée Lauder. Here, she attends a press conference announcing her new ambassadorship wearing a sunflower-yellow Versace skirt suit with matching logo bracelet.
At the Academy Awards, 1995
Naturally, Liz made her Oscars red carpet debut in Versace. The model-actress attended the 1995 event alongside Hugh, who was doing the award circuit for his critically-acclaimed performance in Four Weddings and a Funeral (he won a BAFTA and Golden Globe). Also designed by the Italian house, Liz’s Academy Awards dress featured a silhouette almost identical to that Versace dress she’d worn to the movie’s premiere not even a year prior. Instead of safety-pins and cut-outs, however, the strappy, plunging gown was embellished head-to-toe with silver paillettes.
At The American President movie premiere, 1995
When Liz wasn’t dressed to the nines in Versace, she was wearing the era’s next sexiest thing: Tom Ford’s Gucci. To the New York premiere of Extreme Measures (a thriller produced by Liz and starring Hugh) in 1996, the actress-producer wore a slinky hardwear-embellishedgown from the Italian house’s FW96 collection. Here, a year earlier, at the premiere of The American President, Liz wears a white fur peacoat straight from the runway of Gucci’s FW95 show.
At the Met Gala, 1997
Fashion icon that she is, Liz has been invited to the exclusive Met Gala four times since her 90s heyday. The very first time she set a stilettoed foot on the event’s storied red carpet she was wearing — you guessed it — Versace. In fact, Liz’s first Met Gala was held in honor of Gianni Versace, himself. Following the event’s annual theme — and her own penchant for the Italian house — Liz wore a purple jersey Versace dress beneath a white fur-trimmed duster.
Off-duty at LAX, 1997
Liz’s style was just as exacting off-duty as on the red carpet. In lieu of her preferred naked dresses, white fur and skirt suits, however, her casual attire included a tight rotation of polished staples including baby tees, stovepipe jeans, cashmere sweaters, black trousers, peep toe heels and wool coats. Here she is, with Hugh at LAX, wearing one such outfit, accessorized with her perennial cat-eye shades and cross necklace.
At the CFDA Fashion Awards, 1999
For Liz and Versace, one show-stopping naked dress moment is simply not enough! Five years after causing a media maelstrom at the Four Weddings and a Funeral premiere, the duo teamed up to do it again — this time at the 1999 CFDA Fashion Awards. To the ceremony, the model-actress wore one of the Italian house’s now-signature metal mesh gowns. The stunning lilac-hued dress featured an ultra-sexy cowl neckline and — in very Liz fashion — a slit up to there. The look was so iconic that Liz kept it in her wardrobe, sporting it 21 years later, at home during 2020’s lockdown. Ah, Liz in Versace: some things never change.