Jennifer Lopez closed Versace tonight in the dress that really did break the internet.
At the end of this evening’s jungle-themed Spring 2020 show, J.Lo emerged in a recreation of the plunging, open, and frankly outrageous silk chiffon dress that she infamously wore on February 23, 2000, to the Grammy Awards. Back then, it sparked so many searches on the then-nascent Google that the search engine’s founders realized it could not cope with a combination of “J.Lo” and “Versace” searches—so they built Google Images to fix the problem.
Plus ça change. Tonight in Versace’s Piazza Sei Febrraio, the audience could barely cope either.
Even though there were some heavy hints at what was about to happen. First the final few models walked to Lopez’s hit Love Don’t Cost A Thing. Then the spotlights dimmed, the walls of this Pantheon-themed room lit up as screens, and we saw a montage of Google Image searches for the original dress. “OK Google,” intoned a voice: “Now show me the real jungle dress.”
The crowd rose to its feet in a Mexican wave as J.Lo circled the room and swooshed the skirts of her reborn jungle dress with practiced gusto. There may have been some screaming. That new jungle dress looked very similar to the 20 year-old original, albeit with some extra embroideries. Once she’d done the circuit once, J.Lo went for it it again, this time arm in arm with Donatella Versace.
Speaking of the impact of J.Lo in that dress the first time she wore it in 2000, Versace said: “The world stopped, everyone wanted to look at that dress… I’m proud we inspired Google Images.” As for tonight’s surprise superstar cameo, she added: “You know when I do something, I really do it.” Apparently, the plan for tonight’s finale had been hatched when Versace and Lopez met at the this year’s Met Ball.
Versace had earlier noted the impact of their original J.Lo dress on the landscape of Silicon Valley by including with their show invitation a flipbook that spelled out a Google search for the company as you flipped through its pages.
As recounted by Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt in an interview in 2016: “When Google was launched, people were amazed that they were able to find out about almost anything by typing just a few words into a computer. It was better than anything else, but not great by today’s standards. So our co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin—like all other successful inventors—kept iterating. After all, people wanted more than just text. This first became apparent after the 2000 Grammy Awards, where Jennifer Lopez wore a green dress that, well, caught the world’s attention. At the time, it was the most popular search query we had ever seen. But we had no surefire way of getting users exactly what they wanted: J.Lo wearing that dress. Google Image Search was born.”
Thanks J.Lo and Versace for giving us Google Images way back when, as well as what will undoubtedly be one of the most-Googled moments of the Spring 2020 season.