Saturday, 30 July 2011

And the bride wore...



Cynics may sigh, and think, not another wedding; but I found myself unexpectedly beguiled. Here's the piece I wrote this afternoon for the Telegraph. Or you can read it here (see below). The one thing I didn't mention in the Telegraph, which I should have done, was Jackie Stewart's kilt and matching tie and knee socks. Mea culpa...

For a woman once dubbed a ‘wild child’, Zara Phillips looked wonderfully grownup at her wedding, in an ivory gown designed by her grandmother’s favourite couturier, Stewart Parvin. The bridal dress was as modest and appropriate as you would expect from such a safe pair of hands: full-skirted in silk faille and duchess satin, with a chevron pleated corseted bodice, and a fine tulle veil. Which is not to say it was boring: Parvin, who studied fashion at the Edinburgh College of Art, is an impeccable tailor who knows royal protocol inside out, combined with a flair for elegant understatement. ‘He’s been a bit of an unsung hero in British fashion until now,’ says Paula Reed, the style director of Grazia, ‘He can dress any body shape, and he’s brilliant at sculpting fabric, so he’s been able to come up with a design for Zara that works with her natural athleticism, while also having a fairy tale femininity.’

The bride’s splendid diamond tiara was lent by her mother, the Princess Royal (another nod to royal tradition), yet for all the jewels, the wedding at Canongate Kirk was a comparatively unshowy affair, with none of the pomp and pageantry of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding. The groom, Mike Tindall, was every inch the England rugby player in his bespoke morning suit (tailored by a company called Cad and the Dandy, though rather more restrained than the name might suggest), with his best man and ushers in matching outfits striding into the church like a British Ocean’s 11. But any possibility of the newly weds being upstaged by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was carefully avoided, not least because Kate was in a previously-seen outfit, a muted pale gold coat dress by Jane Troughton, already worn for the wedding of Laura Parker Bowles to Harry Lopes in 2006. (Surely no coincidence, then, that the Duchess of Cambridge also chose a recycled dress for the pre-wedding party on the royal yacht Britannia: her demure green knee-length frock by Diane von Furstenberg that had appeared on her tour of Los Angeles earlier this month).

Even Zara’s cousins, the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, looked reasonably uncontroversial; Beatrice in turquoise and a matching hat that was flamboyant, but nothing like as mad as her giant pretzel-shaped headgear for the previous royal nuptials; Eugenie in cream and chocolate brown with another rakishly angled hat (what is it with these peculiar sideways affairs? Is it code for saying, we may be royal, but we are still fun-loving chicks? Or is it a subliminal right-leaning message?). The Queen, as always, was in a perfectly judged outfit: apricot pink by Stewart Parvin, with a matching hat that was firmly centred on her level head. Parvin also dressed the Maid of Honour, Dolly Maude, in a dove grey knee length duchess satin dress, which did not draw attention to itself with quite the same vigour as Pippa Middleton’s bridesmaid gown at Westminster Abbey.

As for the mother of the bride: Princess Anne dressed with her characteristic disregard for modern fashion in a pleated coral skirt and floral vintage-looking jacket, which was oddly cheering; as was Camilla’s exuberantly sprouting floral and feathery headpiece. All in all, an apparently jolly gathering of family and friends in the Scottish sunshine, that will do much to enhance this year’s freshened appearance of the steady Royal firm.

3 comments:

kairu said...

How lovely! (And how lovely was your flock of white camellias destined for Port Eliot...).

Just back from Russia and online again...as we were sailing along rivers and across lakes I was internet-less for much of the time, which was agony! It did give me time to read the lovely Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and the extraordinary Wandering Stars by Sholem Aleichem, an anthem to the sorrows and joys of being Jewish and being in the theatre...

It was wonderful to be in Russia again, my third trip in 18 years. Everything had changed so much since I was last there, 12 years ago, but the things I love are still there, the pastel palaces of St. Petersburg, the lush green forests along the rivers and lakes, the deep underground Metro stations packed with commuters, cathedrals gleaming with gold and bright with sunlight...I am already impatient to return.

julieeagleton said...

I particularly loved Camilla's spray of white flowers - wonderfully extravagant!

Justine Picardie said...

Julia -- thanks for the message; and quite agree about Camilla.
Kairu -- welcome back! You have been very much missed on the blog (when is Kairu returning, we have been asking ourselves on a daily basis). It must have been incredible returning to Russia after 12 years; so many changes, I imagine, though as you say, much that is timeless.