Geri Horner was told not to wear her iconic Union Jack dress at the 1997 BRIT Awards by a stylist who claimed it was "racist" and would make it look as though she supported "The National Front".

Geri Horner

Geri Horner

The 47-year-old singer created one of the biggest moments in pop history when she strutted on stage at the awards ceremony with her Spice Girls bandmates - Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton, Mel B and Mel C - in the Gucci mini dress which had a tea towel of the British flag sewn onto it.

However, Geri almost pulled the entire ensemble at the last minute as a stylist said her fashion choice could be misrepresented as the Union Jack had been hijacked from being a symbol of pride in the UK to being part of the logo of the The National Front, a far-right, fascist political party in the United Kingdom which opposes immigration.

But Geri came up with an idea to ensure that her intentions were understood.

Speaking in a video interview with US Vogue, she said: "I remember showing it to a stylist and she said to me, 'You can't wear that.' She actually said, 'You cannot wear that. It's racist. It's National Front,' an extreme party that existed in Britain that was very racist. I said, 'No, stop - we celebrate all cultures.' And that's why I put the peace sign on the back."

Geri - known as Ginger Spice in the group - says the original black dress was inspired by sex symbol Marilyn Monroe, but she felt it was missing something for a performance that was going to be so important for the band following the global success they had achieved with their debut album 'Spice' and message of "Girl Power".

She shared: "I remember this little black Gucci dress got presented to me. It was almost like a 1950s, Marilyn-shape swimming costume. Tom Ford was working with Gucci at that time. I remember thinking, It's the BRITs - British flag!

"I've always been a secret fashion designer. I don't know if this is true, but you're not meant to cut up a flag. So I found a tea towel. My sister did it, because she's better at sewing than I am."

To finish the look, the 'Wannabe' hitmaker wore a pair of oversized platform boots that she spray painted red to match the British flag.

She said: "And then I had the red boots. My father was a mechanic and I had car spray from the garage, and sprayed it red to match. So, the length of the dress is the sexuality and the big boots are saying, 'You know what? You're not going to mess with me either.'"

Geri can remember the overwhelming positive reaction the next day to the dress and it gave her a huge sense of pride.

She recalled: "I woke up the next morning, and that picture of me in the dress was on the front page of every newspaper. That dress really became the identity of what girl power stood for. People would wear their own version of it. Suddenly you started seeing the British flag on a lot of fashion."

Geri has worn different incarnations of the Union Jack dresses incarnations over the years, in 2007 for the first Spice Girls reunion tour she donned a version by Roberto Cavalli, and for the latest 2019 'Spice World Tour' she slipped into a dress designed by Gabriella Slade.

Speaking about how the evolution of the dress matches her journey as a woman, she said: "It felt like the power of woman, the evolution of Girl Power. As I've grown into a woman, it's like actually, I can just be still. I can just be here. This is enough. It felt quite empowering to walk on stage with a dress that says, 'You know what? I've grown up.'

"The Spice Girls fans have grown up with us so it was lovely for every country we would go to to see girls - and guys - in the Union Jack dress. It's almost like a uniform unifying us all."

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