People got really excited on social media when Jennifer Lopez closed the Versace show on Saturday. But none more than millennials. In the case you’ve been hermetic this weekend, or, the past 20 years, Lopez, now 50, first wore the gown to the Grammy Awards in February 2000 and broke the internet so to speak. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt later revealed there were so many searches for photos of the dress afterwards, it inspired them to create Google Images.
If you were born after 1993, you’re probably too young to grasp the significance of Lopez’s closing of the Versace SS20 show. And if you were born before 1980, your life outlook was already too set to be personally influenced by the rise of her star. But for millennials, who were coming of age around the time of the new millennium, J.Lo’s rise to fame was big. It significantly shaped our worldview.
A Latina from the Bronx and former backup dancer, J.Lo was an anomaly at the time. She didn’t exude the gaudy aggressiveness of her female borough-bred rapper counterparts, such as Lil Kim and Foxy Brown. Yet she didn’t come from the same-old privileged pop princess mould as other stars of the time such as Britney Spears. There was no Mickey Mouse Club and Disney Channel springboard. Lopez had moved to Manhattan to pursue her entertainer dreams at the protest of her family. She was briefly homeless at 18 when she left the family home, determined to make it as a dancer, as she told W magazine. She recalled sleeping on a sofa in a dance studio, and eating a slice of pizza every night for dinner when she had only $100 left to live. She kept at it despite various rejections and not making it past the role of backup dancer. Lopez didn’t get her break until age 28, when she was cast in the biopic Selena.
At the time of the 2000 Grammys, Lopez had released her debut album On The 6, her single Waiting For Tonight had literally been the anthem of the turn of the millennium, and she was dating P. Diddy. They were urban music royalty, and J.Lo’s videos, remixed works with fashion, choreography, New York sets, abs and lots of glowy skin, were truly singular. Flying the flag for minority girls everywhere, J.Lo singlehandedly re-inspired our generation’s faith in the American Dream. And despite the colossal fame that came in her thirties and forties, Lopez has always kept it real with anthems such as Jenny From The Block in 2002, up to circa now, as Instagram stories of her throwing it down at her 50th birthday in Miami with Fat Joe illustrate.
It’s this kind of scrappy, goal-getting despite the hard-knock-life story that we identify with and that defines us as a generation. Gen-Z takes this for granted. Gen X and the boomers missed out having this example during formative years.
But right now is also a high time for Lopez, who turned 50 this year, got engaged to baseball star and former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, and just released a new movie, Hustlers, in which she is rumored to be nominated for an Oscar for her role as stripper Ramona. And perhaps this is what really touched our millennial heartstrings. Her continued success, hard work and tenacity proves that Lopez wasn’t a lucky token of the so-called Latin explosion. Her closing Versace and stealing the show is proof that here and now, two decades later, the woman that made all of us as a generation believe, is still here.
As for the rest of the collection, including a series of shimmering sequin cocktail dresses, the jungle print influence was the key story. Tropical motifs were splashed across cotton parkas, trouser suits and denim mini skirts, while lush crystal embellishment adorned work shirts and handbags. Enclothed cognition, clothing’s ability to affect our mindset, works because of the meaning we assign to clothes. We predict sell-outs of the jungle story for Versace when spring drops in February. Millennials are approaching the height of their spending power, luxury fashion is an emotional purchase, and the pull of nostalgia is powerful. And after all, who doesn’t want to embody the confident, unstoppable, tenacious spirit of Jennifer?