Ask any style expert to name the sexy celebrity dress style that defined the nineties and early naughties and there’d only ever be one answer: the bandage.

In fact, if we had a dollar for every celebrity who wore one of Herve Leroux’s signature stretchy dresses (or some copy that looked similar) during those two decades, we could buy ourselves a Kardashian-size Birkin and probably the Ferrari to match.

When French designer Leroux (known commercially as Herve Leger) first released the style that will forever be linked to his name in 1985, there’s no way he could have known the cultural phenomenon it would become.

Rihanna wearing a Herve Leger bandage dress at a pre-Grammys party in 2007Credit: Getty Images

So thick and stretchy it acted like a flattering all-body Spanx, yet bold and sexy enough to send a power-dressing message, over time the bandage became the unofficial uniform of supermodels, starlets and later Victoria’s Secret Angels, as well as one of the most copied looks on the high street for fans of body-con styles.

Way back when Kim Kardashian-West was much more than Paris Hilton’s party plus-one and sometimes stylist, the bandage was both women’s event go-to. So much so, in fact, that when her first Madame Toussaud’s waxwork was created following her rise to infamy, her doppelganger wore a red mid-thigh bandage.

Style-savvy starlets like Rihanna, Elle Macpherson, Cate Blanchett, Cindy Crawford, Carla Bruni, Helena Christensen Dita Von Teese, Alessandra Ambrosio and even Australia’s own Miranda Kerr, Margot Robbie and Phoebe Tonkin have been spectacular ambassadors for bandage body-con over the years. When a teenaged Kendall Jenner first hit the party scene in the late noughties, it was her outfit of choice too.

And while others like Brittany Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton and Katy Perry have fallen (far, far) short of the best-dressed bandage list, despite being big-time fans, it doesn’t detract from the fact the style that – much like the women who’ve worn it over the years – has become a cultural phenomenon.

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Iconic late French fashion designer Herve Leroux, here in 2013Credit: Getty Images

Given news this week of the sad passing at age 60 of hairdresser-turned-designer, Herve Leroux, who was a one-time protégé of Karl Lagerfeld before founding his own label, there’s no better time to reflect on his greatest contribution to fashion. While the designer sold his namesake label to BCBG Max Azria in 1999, his legacy was already set.

The gifted designer then acted as creative director for Guy Laroche and continued to design under his real name Herve Leroux. While the label moniker may have changed, his love for dressing real, curvy women remained. In 2005 the backless dress he created for Hilary Swank as she collected her best actress Oscar received critical acclaim.

“We worked together for years,” long-time friend Lagerfeld told WWD. “He was incredibly gifted with his hands, he could do everything… He knew how to work, he knew how to do a fitting, he had incredible technique. He was terrific.”

Perhaps Lagerfeld’s final comment best sums up how women felt about his most famous dress offering. “I have never had an assistant who was as much fun as Hervé.


Rihanna at a pre-Grammy Awards party hosted by Clive Davis in 2007
Credit: Getty Images

Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio on the red carpet in 2010Credit: Getty Images

Kim Kardashian out to dinner in Miami in 2012Credit: Getty Images

Spanish model Malena Costa teamed her skirt version with a tee in 2012Credit: Getty Images

Jennifer Lopez at the American Music Awards in 2009
Credit: Getty Images

Kendall and Kris Jenner at a book launch in Sydney in 2012Credit: Getty Images

Phoebe Tonkin at Teen Vogue’s 10th-anniversary party in Hollywood, 2012Credit: Getty Images

Elle Macpherson at the NBC Universal all-star party in California, 2012Credit: Getty Images

Kerry Washington at the 22nd Annual Producer’s Guild Awards in 2011Credit: Getty Images

Margot Robbie at the 3rd Annual Australian Film Awards in Los Angeles in 2011Credit: Getty Images 

Jess Hart at the Tribeca Ball in 2013Credit: Getty Images