Sugar never, ever was as sweet as Mariah Carey’s “Honey.” Released 25 years ago today as the lead single of her deeply personal sixth studio album Butterfly, “Honey” was a redefining song in Carey’s career–one that saw her lean further into hip hop–and in her personal life, as she was going through her divorce from music executive Tommy Mottola at the time.
Acclaimed by critics, “Honey” was Carey’s third single to debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, staying at number one for three consecutive weeks and earning two Grammy nominations. It’s also a fan favorite, or make that Lamb favorite (Lamb being the word used for Carey’s many devotees, which, if you haven’t already guessed, I most definitely am). The accompanying music video, released the following month, is one of the best examples of the Y2K era’s high-budget music productions.
Shot on a private island in Puerto Rico (which Carey rented for the shoot) and directed by Paul Hunter, “Honey” channels the high-octane glamour of James Bond films. In it, Carey indulges her kitschy sense of humor with Frank Sivero playing a gangster (in a possible reference to her ex-husband) who is holding her secret agent character captive. Model David Fumero plays her very steamy love interest.
In the kidnapping scene, Carey wears a little black dress by Dolce & Gabbana styled with a pair of Gucci pumps by Tom Ford. So memorable is her look that the shoes, originally from the fall 1997 collection, are now known as the “Mariah stilettos”–if you need confirmation, just take a look at any resale site. “At the time we were filming there was no, ‘oh, let’s do a close up of the shoe,’” says Joe Zee, the fashion stylist and editor that styled the music video, “but I had just been in Europe at all the shows, and I remember seeing that Gucci show and I was like those are killer, I need those for Mariah, so we got them and they turned into such an iconic part of the video.”