Courtney Love: ‘I thought: this dress is crazy-looking, but I’ll make it work’

As told to Leah Harper


I was going to wear Versace to the Golden Globes in 2000 – it was already in my wardrobe – but the dress I ended up wearing was from John Galliano’s Christian Dior haute couture collection that was “inspired” by homelessness [the New York Times described the contentious collection as “tasteless chic”]. My good friends Arianne Phillips [the costume designer] and Joe Mama-Nitzberg [the artist] called me and said: “You have to wear couture!” I didn’t really get couture until this. My mind was blown – I thought: “This is what they were talking about.”

The dress arrived and it was ridiculous. It was straight up and down and had twine on it. On the twine there was a book of matches, glass, all this taxidermy. I remember thinking: “OK, it’s crazy-looking, but I’ll make it work.”

I lived next door to Carrie Fisher at the time and Meryl Streep happened to be at her house. I put the dress in an Armani carry bag and told my daughter, Frances, to give it to Meryl. She came back with a polaroid of Meryl goofing around in the gown and I just lost it; it was so funny.

I made alterations, which really changed the dress. My assistant’s boyfriend was very slender and about my height, so he became my model. I was taking bits off, sewing on to it. I bite my nails, so I wore acrylics, but they were painted turquoise with glitter streaks to match my original outfit. I am a big believer in matchy-matchy, but [when I changed my choice of dress] I didn’t have time to take them off. I also did stupid stuff like jump up and down on a mini trampoline with my arms and legs in plastic bags so I would lose sweat weight, but I fit into it and I felt like I looked pretty good.

A lot went into this look and it was controversial when I wore it. I have big boobs and it was important that they didn’t fall out. I don’t think tit-tape really works and looking back I don’t know how I kept it on – it was a miracle. I think maybe I glued it.