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jennifer lopez shall we dance black dress?

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More than two decades ago, Jennifer Lopez changed the internet forever when she wore a dress so striking it inspired engineers to build Google Image Search.

It was at the 2000 Grammy Awards, when Lopez’s emerald green and blue palm leaf printed Versace dress became one of fashion history’s most enduring outfits.

Cut titillatingly low, the gown’s neckline plunged past Lopez’s navel and had a revealing central split. Every step forward sent a dramatic cascade of chiffon behind her, and kept on-lookers guessing about the structural integrity of the gown.

“The dress was provocative enough I guess, to make people really interested, Lopez told Vogue years later, on the 20th anniversary of wearing it. “When it blew open, everybody was like ‘What’s going to happen next?’ Nothing. It’s all taped down.”

It became the most searched query on Google at the time, according to former Google CEO and executive chairman Eric Schmidt. “People wanted more than just text,” he wrote for Project Syndicate, an opinion commentary publication, in 2015. “But we had no surefire way of getting users exactly what they wanted: JLo wearing that dress. Google Image Search was born.”

In the days before Google Image Search, any results page would consist entirely of website links and text. The scandalous Versace gown — a pop culture moment that had to be seen to be understood — exposed a hole in the search engine’s offering. The tool was launched in July 2001.

Éric Eggold