Call it the Safety-Pin Dress 2.0 – this time minus the safety pins.
That’s what Nicole Kidman wore on Sunday evening for the premiere of her new Amazon Prime Video show, Expats, in New York.
The gown was Versace, and, with its exposed back, sides, and, well, let’s just say it didn’t leave much to the imagination, appeared to take a style lead from the infamous dress worn by Elizabeth Hurley in 1994 to the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral, starring her then-boyfriend Hugh Grant, and which catapulted her to fame as an It girl.
Kidman’s iteration was Donatella Versace’s homage to one of her late brother’s most famous designs. There’s been no word on the quantity of double-sided tape required to avoid a wardrobe malfunction.
What is even more remarkable though, is that Kidman, at 56, chose to wear a dress like this at all. There’s no question that she has the body and the confidence for it; she looks sensational. And perhaps we’d all be wearing barely-there eveningwear if we’d spent the same hours in the gym.
The list of high-profile midlife women proudly showing off their toned abs, arms and legs is endless. Over the past few months alone, we’ve seen Jennifer Lopez, 54, modelling lingerie for Intimissimi, and Marie Helvin, at 71, is the new face of Bluebella’s 2024 Valentine’s lingerie campaign. Christie Brinkley, who turns 70 next month, looks sensational in swimwear on Instagram. Bridal designer Vera Wang, 74, sparkled in a cutaway dress on New Year’s Eve and Gwyneth Paltrow, 51, showed off her abs in a crop-top on the red carpet.
Of course men are not subjected to the same scrutiny. They are hailed “silver foxes” when they grey, and continue to land romantic leads opposite women young enough to be their daughters.
Is Kidman playing into the hands of ageist executives, or is she to be admired? In a recent interview, she suggested that she dresses for her own pleasure, and doesn’t care what others think about her style: “I make the most random, crazy choices,” she told Stellar’s Something to Talk About podcast. “I call it ‘teenage choices’, because I don’t ever think of the consequences…I just try to keep in that place, because otherwise I think you get scared or worried about what people think. In terms of people’s reactions, I say don’t tell me. I don’t really want to know. It’ll stop me from doing what I want to do.”
We must also acknowledge that the 50-something woman is not what she used to be. The stereotypes established by our parents’ and grandparents’ generations have been largely replaced by someone who isn’t defined by their age.
The modern midlife woman is more likely to have disposable income to spend on herself, and the life experience to know what to do with it, whether that’s tweakments or reformer pilates classes. She’s found a hair colour and cut that suits her, a great skincare routine, and the means to invest in clothes that truly fit and flatter. Of course she looks better than she did in her 20s – health and beauty has come such a long way over the past 30 years.
The same is true of Kidman. But perhaps her Versace dress has nothing to do with dressing youthfully and everything to do with the promotion of her latest show. Here we are, discussing a dress that may not have got much airtime had it been less risqué.
Chapeau, Nicole, chapeau.