Bear in mind when Ginger Spice wore the Union Jack?

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Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Delving into the archives of popular culture historical past, “Remember When?” is a brand new sequence providing a nostalgic take a look at the movie star outfits that outlined their eras.

Bear in mind when being British was cool?

It was the late Nineties and, throughout a quick window of respite between Thatcherism and the Struggle on Terror, the UK was awash with optimism. Its economic system boomed, the dot-com bubble appeared impenetrable, and probably the most urgent concern among the many Brits was whether or not the millennium bug would possibly ship fax machines into meltdown.

The Spice Ladies emerged right into a coinciding period of cultural confidence, dubbed — with no trace of irony — “Cool Britannia.” The five-piece, and different British bands, loved ranges of worldwide success not seen since The Beatles. And the younger stars weren’t afraid to flaunt their Britishness.

Enter one of the crucial memorable attire in pop — and vogue — historical past: Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack gown, worn on stage on the 1997 Brit Awards, the UK’s equal to the Grammys. This was lengthy earlier than the flag grew to become a Brexit battleground. What would, right this moment, be dismissed as garish act of patriotism was one way or the other symbolic of the daring, blithe zeitgeist.

If Ginger Spice epitomized a brand new sort of pop star — one which cackled by means of TV interviews and flirted with Prince Charles — then her daringly quick gown, with its low rectangular neckline, embodied a brand new sort of Britishness, free from stuffy, stiff-upper-lip associations.

Deeming her original dress to be "boring," Halliwell asked her sister to stitch a Union Jack dishcloth to its front.

Deeming her authentic gown to be “boring,” Halliwell requested her sister to sew a Union Jack dishcloth to its entrance. Credit score: Dave Benett/Getty Photographs

At finest, the gown reclaimed femininity on behalf of the legions of younger girls impressed by the band’s pervasive “Woman Energy” message. On the very least, it demonstrated Halliwell’s nous for producing headlines. Her bandmate, Melanie “Scary Spice” Brown, later mentioned: “That was the primary time I noticed how good Geri was. She had an actual sense of what would catch on within the press.”

As a result of though late-Nineties Britain was a time of lots, the period’s best-known outfit was, actually, an ingenious act of DIY: Halliwell had deemed her authentic black Gucci gown to be “boring,” and so had requested her sister, Karen, to sew a Union Jack dishcloth to its entrance (the again was emblazoned with an usually neglected peace image).

She faultlessly captured the nationwide temper, and the gown’ historic standing was confirmed virtually instantly. Footage of Halliwell had been splashed throughout the entrance pages of the nation’s then-untouchable tabloid newspapers the following morning. Only a 12 months later, the garment — arguably little greater than an upcycled rag — was bought by Onerous Rock Café’s co-founder Peter Morton for £41,320 (then slightly below $70,000), making it the most costly merchandise of pop-star clothes ever to promote at public sale.

Subsequent makes an attempt to copy the gown’ impression have fallen flat. In 2006, Italian designer Roberto Cavalli made Halliwell an up to date Union Jack frock, full with rhinestones and Swarovski crystals, for the Spice Ladies’ first reunion tour. Six years later, the singer herself launched a group of flag-themed clothes through the fast-fashion retailer Subsequent, although it rapidly disappeared from sight.

A floor-length reinterpretation of the Union Jack dress makes an appearance during the Spice Girls' 2019 reunion tour.

A floor-length reinterpretation of the Union Jack gown makes an look throughout the Spice Ladies’ 2019 reunion tour. Credit score: Dave J Hogan/Getty Photographs

Then, at 2019’s UK reunion tour, Geri shocked followers with a billowing, floor-length reinterpretation of her signature gown. However, quite than placing a demure spin on a risqué traditional, the sparkly robe left Halliwell (now referred to as Geri Horner) wanting like a medieval superhero.

The unique Union Jack gown was, inescapably, a product of its time. In a interval of nationwide soul-searching, it appears becoming that Britain’s most pertinent image of cultural self-assurance ought to stay within the closet, shunned in favor of one thing deemed extra “age-appropriate.”

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