The "Girl Power" slogan was met with varied reactions, both positive and negative. The phrase was a label for the particular facet of feminist empowerment embraced by the band: that a sensual, feminine appearance and equality between the sexes need not be mutually exclusive. This concept was by no means original in the pop world; both Madonna and Bananarama had employed similar outlooks, and the phrase was most likely first coined by Welsh indie band Helen Love in 1993 and made famous by British pop duo Shampoo in 1995. However, the Spice Girls' version was distinctive. Its message of empowerment appealed to young girls, adolescents and adult women, and it emphasized the importance of strong, loyal friendship among females. In all, the focused, consistent presentation of "girl power" formed the centrepiece of their appeal as a band. Some critics dismissed it as no more than a shallow marketing tactic, while others took issue with the emphasis on physical appearance, concerned about the potential impact on self-conscious and/or impressionable youngsters. Regardless, the phrase became a cultural phenomenon, adopted as the mantra for millions of girls and even making it into the Oxford English Dictionary. In summation of the concept, author Ryan Dawson said, "The Spice Girls changed British culture enough for Girl Power to now seem completely unremarkable."
The term "Cool Britannia" became prominent in the media and represented the new political and social climate that was emerging with the advances made by New Labour and Tony Blair. Coming out of a period of 18 years of Conservative government, Tony Blair and New Labour were seen as young, cool and very appealing, a main driving force in making Britain look fashionable again. (The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, responsible for coining the term "Cool Britannia" in their song of the same title, intended it in a sarcastic and mocking manner.) Although by no means responsible for the onset of "Cool Britannia", the arrival of the Spice Girls added to the new image and re-branding of Britain, and underlined the growing world popularity of British, rather than U.S., pop music. This fact was underlined at the BRIT Awards in 1997. The group won two awards but it was Geri Halliwell's Union Jack dress that appeared in media coverage the world over and eventually became a symbol of "Cool Britannia".
Icons of the 1990s
The Union Jack dress Geri wore has acquired something of an iconic status, and is in the Guinness World Records as the most expensive piece of pop star clothing (about £42,000) ever sold at an auction.
Ten years after the release of their debut single The Spice Girls were voted the biggest cultural icons of the 1990s by 80% in a UK poll of 1,000 people carried out for the board game Trivial Pursuit, stating that "Girl Power" defined the decade.
TAKEN FROM THE WIKIPEDIA