20 years on, we finally know the hidden meaning in Rose McGowan's infamous VMAs dress.

The 2018 awards season heralded a new era of activism in the entertainment industry. With black dresses, white roses and ‘Time’s Up‘ pins, the men and women of Hollywood used the red carpet as a platform to highlight the culture of sexual assault and harassment that had been allowed to flourish within their profession.

Among those at the centre of this advocacy is Rose McGowan, one of several actors who went public with allegations that against producer Harvey Weinstein late last year. Her claims that the married father raped her in 1997 were among those that propelled the #MeToo movement.

But the 44-year-old Charmed star has revealed she first protested the abuse two decades ago on the red carpet of the 1998 Video Music Awards – long before she was able to speak out or we were ready to listen.

During an interview on The Dr Oz Show, McGowan explained that, despite speculation at the time, the infamous mesh dress she wore to the ceremony wasn’t a ploy for publicity.

Instead, she told the program, the revealing outfit was a direct response to her alleged assault.

“That was my first public appearance after being sexually assaulted. I was like, ‘Is this what you want?’” the Italian born actor said. “I’ve never worn something like that before or since… That was a political statement.

“Of course, there was no Twitter at the time or Instagram, no way to speak for yourself.”


Click through the gallery below to see Rose McGowan’s 1998 dress…


In its stunning exposé on the allegations against Weinstein, The New York Times stated that in 1997 McGowan and the producer had reached a US$100,000 settlement over an incident in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival.

The agreement, according to legal documents quoted by the paper, was “not to be construed as an admission” by Weinstein, but intended to “avoid litigation and buy peace”.

McGowan declined to comment for the Times‘ piece, but later directed a series of tweets at Amazon Studio chief Roy Price in which she claimed the company had ignored her allegations against Weinstein.

“I told the head of your studio that HW raped me,” she wrote. “Over & over I said it. He said it hadn’t been proven. I said I was the proof.”

Weinstein has denied any instances of non-consensual sex with the more than 30 women who have accused him of misconduct.

Tracey Spicer joins Holly Wainwright and Rachel Corbett to deep dive on why the #metoo movement has kick-started a new way of thinking worldwide.