The humble Safety Pin gets a Met Gala moment with Anne Hathaway in a Versace dress

Adhya Moona
Adhya MoonaMay 04, 2023 | 18:26

The humble Safety Pin gets a Met Gala moment with Anne Hathaway in a Versace dress

Anne Hathaway and Elizabeth Hurley in Versace safety pin gown. Photo: Getty Images

Hollywood star Anne Hathaway made heads turn in the iconic Versace safety pin gown at the 2023 Met Gala. The Devil Wears Prada actress rocked the stitched-together look with the gold-and-pearl safety pins. But how did the humble safety pin reach the Met Gala?

The Oscar-winning star looked beautiful in the plunging white dress with a thigh-high slit. The gold safety pins and pearl-adorned safety pins were a statement piece in the white Versace gown designed by the Italian designer Donatella Versace.


Donatella Versace on the iconic safety pin dress

  • Versace's safety pin dress did bring a lot of attention to the brand.
  • In 1994, Elizabeth Hurley's black Versace pin dress with gold safety pins created quite a bit of stir. The English actress wore the dress to the premiere of the movie Four Weddings and A Funeral.
  • This bodycon safety pin dress was designed by the late Gianni Versace. It first featured on the runway when model Helena Christense wore the dress in Spring 1994.
Elizabeth Hurley in Versace safety pin dress in 1994. Photo: Getty Images

The safety pin dress was just seen on the Met Gala carpet, and it got us back to wondering about the origins of this humble little accessory, overlooked more often than not, but a best friend nevertheless.

So, who invented the safety pin?


  • American mechanic and independent inventor Walter Hunt invented the safety pin in 1848.
  • He called it a "dress pin".
  • Walter Hunt was born on July 29, 1796 in New York. He worked and lived in New York.
  • Hunt patented the safety pin on April 10, 1849. He sold rights to it for just $400. 
  • April 10 every year is considered as the International Safety Pin Day.
  • Hunt's safety pin is a descendant of the Roman fibulae, which was used to keep dress in place. However, the fibula had a prickly end.
  • Hunt's design solved the problem of that prickly end.

Safety pins enter fashion

  • Safety pins reached their peak when gold safety pins were given to babies at their christenings; to help attach the bibs to the babies' clothes.
  • Safety pins (copper safety pin mostly) became a part of autumn fashion when they were used to lock the Scotch kilt
  • Punk movement in the 1970s: It became a thing in 1970s to use safety pins as piercing jewellery.
  • During the Punk rock era, New York dressing style included black leather jackets, black straight-pants and torn T-shirts held together by safety pins.

Famous safety pin moments in fashion

  • Fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, 1977: Zandra Rhodes worked on a collection called "conceptual chic" where she had pink, purple tops and jersey dresses with intentional tears covered with golden safety pins.


  • Judy Blame, 1977: British fashion stylist, accessories designer and punk iconoclast Judy Blame started using safety pins in his jewellery designs at the height of the punk movement. He used safety pins in the pieces he designed for the runaway and for figures such as Icelanding singer-songwriter Björk. 


  • Stephen Sprouse, 1987: Designer Stephen Sprouse put safety pins on mini-denim skirts. He also placed safety pins on saturated dresses worn by Debbie Harrie.

  • Jean Paul Gaultier’s Safety Pin Jackets and Belts, 1990: French Fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier is known for his unconventional designs. He designed jackets and waistcoats which used oversized safety pins for closure on runway pieces in early 1990s.

It has been a long journey for safety pins, from Walter Hunt's hands to the Versace gown that Anne Hathaway wore recently. It has been a fashion statement and an ornament in itself. And above all, it is the familiarity of a safety pin that has perhaps helped it traverse all these generations.

Last updated: May 04, 2023 | 18:27
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