To Bea or Not To Bea
Let's be honest – I’m no Royalist. I am not exactly an ‘off with their heads’ kinda girl and I don’t deny that the Queen has worked hard her whole life and that it is not possible to be more conspicuously harmless than Kate Middleton, but on the whole I find them a rather outdated, pointless bunch of toffs with a smattering of some real intolerableness in there for good measure. But a Royal Wedding is a Royal Wedding, however reduced in size and stature, and I for one sat down with no small degree of excitement to scroll through the outfits of the great and the good with my sartorial wit sharpened and my pen (OK, my keyboard) poised. But the best laid plans ……………………In an example of rival defying modesty Princess Beatrice chose to marry her Edo ( that’s short for Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi) in the ultimate low key wedding, depriving the Paparazzi of weeks of fodder and denying me a much needed fashion fest. Whilst it is reported that there WERE guests in the chapel – as many as government guidelines allowed- no one other than the happy couple and the Queen and Prince Philip were photographed. The Queen wore aqua green; Prince Philip stood tall and wore an uncharacteristic smile proving himself to be – contrary to popular rumours – alive. The groom looked great, an Italian in a morning suit, what’s not to love?
Nothing for it then but to turn all our bea-dy attention to the bride.
She looked very happy which of course is the most important thing. And I liked the sentiment behind her choice of what to wear - a vintage affair fit for the up-cycling, pre-loved, down on fast fashion mood of the moment. Unfortunately, it had been adapted – badly and tastelessly – and it didn’t suit her. It wouldn’t have suited her before the adaptation but at least we would have been spared the home made not handmade calamity that was the final piece. So what, I hear you wondering, was it about this dress that made it wrong for Beatrice on so many levels?
Designed by Norman Hartnell the Peau De Soie taffeta dress was first worn by the Queen in Rome in May of 1961 for a state dinner. It received a further airing in the December of the following year when she wore it to the world premiere of Lawrence Of Arabia in London and again almost 4 years later for her speech in the House of Lords.
With its straight bodice and straight shoulder straps echoing straight beaded embroidery from neckline to mid-thigh, the dress yielded a stiff silhouette despite the bubble hem. In short there was nothing soft about the dress in its original incarnation, and as such it suited its intended wearer perfectly. Much of what determines your Style Personality is whether you are made up of straight lines or curves – in effect your body geometry – and whether those lines are soft or hard, yin or yang. This dress was created to be worn by someone with a lot of yang in their Style Personality and the Queen fitted that brief perfectly.
Fast forward 50 plus years and the updating of the wedding dress for Beatrice. Beatrice has a very distinct Style Personality; she has a soft, diffused look very different to that of her grandmother. Her style choices have often been found wanting – we have seen her shoehorning herself into constricted and rigid garments rather than embracing a gentle, romantic and altogether more mellow look.
There have been occasions where she has succeeded perfectly – her engagement photo being just such an occasion - and when that happens her comfort is palpable
To update the dress for her wedding and perhaps in an attempt to feel more comfortable and achieve more movement and fluidity in the dress Beatrice chose to add some puff sleeves as well as removing the underskirts and the bubble hem and replacing it with a silk trim. Despite being remodelled and fitted by the Queen’s senior dresser Angela Kelly and designer Stewart Parvin - who let's face it really should have known better - nothing worked. The dominant straight lines of the bodice and the beading did not suit Beatrice's soft body geometry and fought with the puffed sleeve. The trim at the bottom was mis-matched and the dress was a good two inches shy of the ground looking to all who cared to observe it as if it had had an argument with her shoes and was sulking.
Beatrice’s look was crowned – quite literally – with a tiara, borrowed once again from her grandmother and worn by that very person on HER wedding day. Whilst it had sat naturally and effortlessly when walked down the aisle back in 1947, on Beatrice the sharp straight lines fought with the brides natural softness – tiara as lethal weapon rather than gracious adornment.
No doubt there are high hopes all round for the newlyweds to have a long and happy marriage. For my part there are also hopes that Beatrice gets herself a good stylist.