After Princess Diana, Britney Spears, Jennifer Aniston, Rihanna and Taylor Swift, to name a few, it was Julia Fox, Kanye West’s ex, who was happy to show her ‘revenge dress’ during New York Fashion Week. For nearly three decades, this term has come up regularly in public discourse. So how can a simple piece of fabric, although well cut and stylish, convey so many messages? We’ll give you the scoop.
Clothing has always been considered a means of expression, and this is pretty much true in all cultures of the world, offering a panorama of our emotions, the causes we support, as well as the expression of what we want to project as an individual. This phenomenon is not new, although it has grown in recent years. We have seen this in particular with the desire of new generations to free themselves from the notion of gender, which has even given rise to new “gender fluid” collections.
The trendy revenge dress
But if there is a piece that expresses our feelings more than anything else, even if they can be very negative, it is the ‘revenge dress’. A creation from almost three decades ago that we owe to Princess Diana, or rather to those who analyzed her behavior and clothing choices on June 29, 1994. That day, after being separated from the prince Charles for almost two years, the ‘people’s princess’ was due to attend a charity event organized by Vanity Fair at the Serpentine Gallery in London. But a few hours before the event, the heir to the British throne hinted in an interview that he had indeed been unfaithful to his wife before their separation. Something that would have played an important role in the choice of the outfit worn by Princess Diana during this charity gala.
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It took the Princess of Wales no less than 30 seconds to make history and transform a simple couture dress into a “revenge dress”, a symbol of revenge, assertiveness and a new beginning. Because this dress is none other than the one worn by celebrities – or by ordinary people, but in these cases more difficult to recognize – for their first public appearance after a breakup. Well, that’s the origin story of the garment, because in fact, Princess Di had already taken that step many times when her “revenge dress” appeared on the cover of every British tabloid.
Designed by Christina Stambolian, the little black dress with bare shoulders worn by Princess Diana was far from the dress code imposed by royal protocol, and the outfit did not go unnoticed by the crowd of photographers gathered in front of the Serpentine Gallery. A symbol of renewal, of a new beginning, she made a lasting impression, becoming at the same time not only a means of self-affirmation, no longer as the wife of Prince Charles but as a free and independent woman. But it was also a way to snub the man who had just publicly confessed his infidelity. The message seemed specific: “This is what you lose. And so the “revenge dress” was born.
From Britney Spears to Julia Fox
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Since that day in 1994, these “revenge dresses” have multiplied, marking each publicized separation. In 2002, Britney Spears also opted for such an outfit after her breakup with Justin Timberlake. Exceptionally, she would have had not one but two “vengeance dresses”. After all, revenge is a dress worn without restraint. The first, just after the couple broke up, was a low-cut, semi-sheer dress, completely covered in rhinestones, worn at the premiere of the movie “Crossroads.” The second, in leather, paired with matching lace-up stilettos, was worn at the MTV Video Music Awards a few months later. Either way, the message is clear.
Jennifer Aniston, Katie Holmes, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Gigi Hadid, Selena Gomez or even Taylor Swift… They have all been said to wear a ‘revenge dress’ at one time or another, showing their desire to shoot the page, to embrace their freedom, and above all to show a certain pride — or would that be indifference? — with regard to the separation. The latest example is none other than Julia Fox, freshly separated from Kanye West, who opened the LaQuan Smith fashion show in a magnificent dress with suggestive cutouts in the middle of New York Fashion Week. A most remarkable appearance, which (almost) eclipsed the label’s collection.
And what about the “vengeance suit”?
A question that we ask ourselves: why did we never talk about the “revenge suit”, the ultra sexy costume that would have provoked men’s revenge, even their desire to start a new life themselves? Does the Revenge Dressing only exist in a female version? It’s a difficult theory to embrace at a time when fashion is moving towards non-gender and the end of certain stereotypes. Something to think about.
The story is published via AFP Relaxnews