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The Bizarre Spice Girls-Versace Connection

Gianni was supposed to have a cameo in Spice World — and the near-misses don’t end there.

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The Spice Girls Photo: WireImage

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Twenty years ago today, Spice World hit theaters. Despite its scathing reviews and nonsensical plot — something about tabloid reporters, clubbing while pregnant, and also aliens? — the Spice Girls’s cinematic debut broke box-office records and went on to become a cult classic. It was also a wellspring of thoroughly weird cameos, with onscreen appearances by everyone from Meat Loaf to Elton John to Roger Moore.

But one of Spice World’s biggest cameos was left on the cutting room floor. Gianni Versace reportedly filmed a small part in the movie during 1997; by the time it hit theaters the following January, the designer had been murdered, and so his scene was scrapped. (A reference to Princess Diana, who also died while the movie was in post-production, was similarly cut — as was a cameo by Gary Glitter, who was arrested for child pornography a few months before Spice World hit theaters.) Certain deleted scenes from the movie eventually resurfaced online; Versace’s never did.

Curiously, that cut cameo is just one in a series of many near-misses for the British girl group and the iconic Italian fashion house. In February 2000, Donatella Versace — Gianni’s sister and successor — dressed Jennifer Lopez in a plunging tropical-print gown for the Grammys. “At the time, it was the most popular search query we had ever seen,” Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt wrote in an essay for Project Syndicate. Infamous and instantly iconic, the down-to-there dress was like nothing we’d seen before.

Geri Halliwell in the dress at the 2000 NRJ Music Awards in Cannes, France.
Geri Halliwell in the dress at the 2000 NRJ Music Awards in Cannes, France.
Photo: WireImage

Except... we had. As it turns out, Geri Halliwell had worn the same exact look one month prior to a French awards show, to far less fanfare. Just think: In a different world, it could’ve been Ginger Spice who inspired the creation of Google Images.

By 2007, the Spice Girls were gearing up for their worldwide comeback tour, and rumors started swirling that Versace would be designing the costumes. “Donatella was a big fan of the girls back in the day and as soon as she heard that a reunion was on the cards she submitted her ideas,” Britain’s Daily Mirror reported at the time, adding that the band’s tour wardrobe would be worth over half a million dollars.

“[Versace] wants the girls to retain their band personas but in a much less obvious way than before,” the publication’s source shared. “Mel C. won’t be wearing ill-fitting sportswear; instead she’ll have a really sexy wardrobe. Emma will wear stunning, elegant dresses with a playful touch.”

It wasn’t long before the fashion house put the story to rest, though. “It’s simply not true,” a Versace spokesperson told Vogue UK. “I have no idea where the rumors have come from.” In the end, a different Italian label famous for its audacious prints and sultry cuts wound up providing the Spice Girls’s custom looks: Roberto Cavalli. Posh, Sporty, Scary, Baby, and Ginger even turned up in the front row at Cavalli’s fall 2008 menswear show in Milan.

The Spice Girls in their Roberto Cavalli (not Versace!) tour looks in 2007.
The Spice Girls in their Roberto Cavalli (not Versace!) tour looks in 2007.
Photo: Spice Girls LLP via Getty Images

The Versace/Spice Girls rumor mill started churning afresh in 2013, when UK tabloids began speculating that Victoria Beckham and her footballer husband, David, planned to purchase Casa Casuarina, Gianni Versace’s historic mansion in Miami Beach. “Posh would be in heaven. She’s positively drooling at the prospect of living there,” a source told NOW magazine. Multiple outlets picked up the story, with some even claiming it was already a done deal.

In the end, the Nakash family, which owns Jordache Jeans, acquired the property for $41.5 million, narrowly outbidding Donald Trump (you can’t make this stuff up). “We have no idea where it came from,” a spokesperson for the Nakashes told Miami.com of the Beckham rumor. “Apparently, it started somewhere in Italy.”

Despite all of these missed opportunities, though, Versace likely played a key role in Victoria Beckham’s decision to become a fashion designer — a move that helped cement her status as the Spice with the longest shelf life. “When I was in the Spice Girls, I got invited to go to a Versace fashion show,” Beckham shared in a 2014 video collaboration with Skype. “I’d never been to a fashion show, and Donatella Versace flew me to Milan. It was all very glamorous and it was taking me into a completely different world.”

Beckham still has the leather dress she wore to the show back in 1997, and calls attending the show “the most exciting thing I’d ever done.”