For a short while in the ‘90s, the UK was filled with optimism. The economy was doing well and the only pressing concern for the Brits was whether the turn of the millennium will send their fax machines to destruction.
This was the era of the Spice Girls. They, along with other groups that emerged after the Beatles, basked in the cultural confidence and success of the “Cool Britannia” era. The five members of the girl group were confident in flaunting every single bit of their Britishness.
This era paved the way for one of the most memorable outfits in the history of pop and fashion – the Union Jack dress, worn by Geri Halliwell during the 1997 Brit Awards, UK’s Grammy counterpart. Today, the dress would have been regarded as a garish patriotic act, but then it gave off a cheerful and sunny vibe.
In the present era, Ginger Spice’s dress, which was daringly short with a low neckline, would make her the embodiment of the present-age Brit culture.
The dress regained femininity for the multitude of girls who were stirred by how the group celebrated woman empowerment through their songs. The dress likewise represents Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell’s knack for making the headlines. Melanie Brown, also known as Scary Spice, also acknowledged Halliwell’s ability to recognize what the press will go crazy over.
Despite their era being economically stable, the iconic dress was actually a DIY product. Halliwell didn’t fancy her plain little black dress so she asked her sister Karen to sew a Union Jack cloth into its front.
Not only did Halliwell successfully pull off the dress, but she also captured the nation’s mood and even made history. The morning after, Halliwell was all over the front page of various UK tabloids. The following year, Peter Morton, co-founder of Hard Rock Café, bought the dress at an auction for £41,320. It has become the most prized item of popstar wear ever to be auctioned.
Some designers have attempted to recreate the dress, but all fell short. Halliwell herself launched her own collection of Union Jack-themed clothing, but it also didn’t last.
However, during the Spice Girls’ reunion tour in the UK this year, Halliwell, now Geri Horner, appeared in a floor-length revision of her iconic dress. The sparkling gown made Ginger Spice look like a hero from medieval times.
Without a doubt, it can be said that the dress has made a name for itself during its time. However, in this period of soul-searching for the UK, it is only appropriate that dress that once symbolized national confidence should be kept in the closet in exchange for something more age-appropriate.