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Mary Charteris' wedding dress, M.I.A for Versace & Ossie Clarke at Debenhams


mary charteris wedding dress
Mary Charteris tweets Bridal joy, and cake

-- It’s one of life’s givens, like taxes and death, that if you’re a woman you will have thought about your wedding gown. Marriage or civil partnership, girly girl or ardent white-dress-hater, there is an image in your mind of what you would wear to mark such a special occasion. Don’t try to deny it.

Is it always symbolic? Arguably, yes. Whether white for purity and new beginnings, or anything-but-a-dress implying simplicity and a focus on the union, or wild, mini skirted and bright screaming ‘I am who I am!’

What then does Lady Mary Charteris’ wedding dress say? From the feet up it looks very fashion-bride (for a model would we expect any less), all layers upon layers of pleated tulle atop vertiginous ivory heels. Yet cast your eyes up and your average wedding meringue abruptly morphs into a paneled, mostly sheer body suit, complete with epaulette like shoulder caps. Not so much purity, more check out my abs – where would the poor vicar lay his eyes!

Mary, niece of fashion great Daphne Guinness, married Robbie Furze of music duo The Big Pink in September. The unusual bridal creation came courtesy of friend and designer Pam Hogg, who revealed the dress was inspired by a “War Bride wedding dress from a few seasons previous”, albeit “a less risqué” version – as if she could reveal anymore. Lady Mary apparently worried about the design, “because it was so risky”, but we think she is a vision of youthful beauty, and example of a damn good body. However, it’s just not the dress we dream of…

M.I.A. attends the Versace Haute-Couture show as part of Paris Fashion Week Fall / Winter 2012/13
M.I.A. attends the Versace Haute-Couture show as part of Paris Fashion Week Fall Winter 2012/13

-- If you’ve ever given a presentation from a personal laptop, you’ve probably experienced that brief yet heart stopping moment when the entire meeting has a gander at your messy desktop beamed onto the big screen. As you desperately load PowerPoint or Keynote, colleagues are forming opinions on your choice of background (hopefully just a pretty sunset…) and desktop folder arrangement.

The usual result: mild embarrassment. Yet when the above happened to ultra-cool singer M.I.A recently it gave away the secrets of an upcoming collab’ with Versace – much to the delight of the nosy audience.

Folders named ‘Versace Prints’, Bootleg Versace’ and ‘Versace Outlines’ casually scattered across her desktop, were projected onto the screen during M.I.A’s weekend lecture at the Modern Art Museum P.S.1 in New York.

The whispers and rumour tweets didn’t have time to circulate for long, as M.I.A (real name Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasam) confirmed the partnership during the same lecture.

It is not known yet how the singer will work with Versace, or when in fact, as before the big reveal we were all convinced Lana Del Ray was the lucky collab-ee. But with her penchant for trash-chic gold, chains and print, we can’t think of anyone more suitable than M.I.A.

1970's dresses by Ossie Clarke, Celia Birtwell,Biba and Mary Quant at the V & A
1970's dresses by Ossie Clarke, Celia Birtwell,Biba and Mary Quant at the V & A

-- Debenhams. Some see it as a stalwart British department store, where you can buy all your Christmas presents under one roof in a last minute dash. (Yes, its that time of year – only six Saturdays till Christmas!) Personally, however, I see poor ol’ Debenhams as a fashion graveyard: where designers enter intrepidly with ‘diffusion lines’, never to return. When I think Julien Macdonald, I see diamanté evening dresses, in Debenhams; Henry Holland is no longer slogan tee’s but the ‘youth’ H! line. In Debenhams.

And now the fate is sealed for the late, great Ossie Clark. Ossie Clark maxi dresses, adorned with Celia Birtwell’s flowery prints, are an image of Swinging London in the Sixties. An era fashion repeatedly tries to emulate, with varying degrees of success. Biba’s revival at the hands of House of Fraser failed to revive the label’s original magic, tainting the Sixties legend for future fashionable generations.

Debenham’s Ossie Clark line, named Ossie Clark London, will feature new designs as well as ‘reworked vintage pieces’, and will launch in February 2013.
With the department store’s track record, Ossie Clark London is a likely disappointment. Unless of course it’s utterly fabulous, in which case you’ll find me in my local Debenham’s begging for forgiveness.

- Natasha Slee @tashalouises

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