Jennifer Lopez Shares the Story Behind Her Iconic Jungle-Print Versace Dress
The star also reveals that she will be wearing the label to the 2019 Met Gala
Jennifer Lopez’s plunging, tropical-print Versace gown worn to the 2000 Grammy Awards lives on as one of the most major moments in pop culture history. And now, nearly 20 years later, the star is telling the story behind the dress while revealing she plans on wearing the label to the Met Gala next month.
Calling the famous design “my biggest fashion moment ever,” Lopez, 49, gets candid about the memorable dress that “started Google Images” in the debut episode of her new YouTube series, “Moments of Fashion.”
Surprisingly enough, Lopez says that pulling the look together was very last minute because she was busy filming The Wedding Planner with Matthew McConaughey so her stylist at the time, Andrea Lieberman only had two viable options for her. “Usually if you come to a fitting of mine, there’s like tons of dresses. But this day, the day of the Grammys, we really had a choice between two dresses,” she remembers. “One was kind of like a white dress and the other was the Versace jungle-print dress.”
Since the daring Versace gown — that went all the way down to Lopez’s navel —had already been worn by Donatella Versace herself and two other stars, Lieberman encouraged the star to go with the white dress. But Lopez still tried on both options before making her decision.
Ultimately, her longtime manager Benny Medina convinced J.Lo to go with the Versace dress. “I put on the green dress and come out and Benny goes, ‘That’s it. That’s it. Don’t even talk about it. That’s the dress,'” she says. “And of course my stylist is mortified. She’s like, ‘No! It’s been worn before!’ But the guys were adamant and we said okay.”
To no one’s surprise, Lopez says once she selected the gown, the biggest concern was “whether or not my boobs were gonna pop out on stage.” But thanks to lots of double-sided tape, that wasn’t an issue. “There was never any danger of that. I was so securely stuck into that thing that there was gonna be no mishaps,” she explains.
Once Lopez hit the red carpet, she could feel the moment happening as everyone’s eyes and cameras turned to her in the breathtaking design.
“All of a sudden you start hearing a little murmur. I’m thinking, it’s the Grammys. It has to be somebody famous behind us,” she laughs. “It was a frenzy. The flashes started going in a way that it’s not usually. There was an extra kinetic energy there. I was like what the hell is going on? I had no idea it was about this dress.”
Then she ran backstage to present the first award of the evening with David Duchovny. “Me totally unsuspecting, walk out and as I walk out my dress, the wind hits it. It blows open slightly, so now I am like bare here and bare here!” Lopez laughs, pointing to her chest and bottom half.
“All of a sudden, again, a slow murmur and everybody starts clapping. We get an ovation for just standing there!” she adds. “In that moment, that dress became something that people still reference.”
Although Lopez says it was a “sad day,” because she ultimately did not win a Grammy that night, the next morning she graced the covers of every major newspaper across the country for wearing that dress. “And small and in the corner was Santana won 11 Grammys. I was like, this man just broke records but people want to know about this dress!” she laughs. “It was the craziest thing. But it just goes to show you the power of fashion.”
By the end of her storytime, Lopez paid tribute to Versace’s longtime designer and tailor Luigi Massi (she also dedicated the video to him), who died on April 2, as she revealed she will be wearing the label to the 2019 Met Gala this May.
“I’ve had a long relationship since this green dress with Versace. There was a gentleman named Luigi who was always there with me. He would fit me. He would help design. We had over a 20-year relationship,” Lopez says.
“We heard that he just passed away in the middle of making my Met Ball gown. I was one of the first people they called because he always had such an amazing time creating looks for me,” she says as she started to tear up.
“They know how much I loved him and how much fun we had. You made me feel so beautiful so many times. Your attention to detail, your talent and your love will never be forgotten. Thank you Luigi, we will miss you.”