Sunday, May 20, 2018

Harry and Meghan's Wedding: A Fashion Review

I'll admit it: I was one of those crazy people who got up at the crack of dawn yesterday to watch the royal wedding. I could have slept in for a few hours and tuned in at a more reasonable hour, right as the actual ceremony began, but as much as I love the pomp of a royal wedding, what I enjoy most is the parade of fashions worn by the guests. If you weren't quite as hardcore, never fear: I have a review of the best fashions (especially the hats!) from the latest royal wedding.

Naturally, we need to start with the bride herself.

Meghan's gown was designed by Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy, a simple white dress with a wide, barely off the shoulder neckline, long sleeves, and a slightly flared silhouette. Many watchers felt her gown was too simple, but I loved that it allowed her gorgeous tiara and veil and train to take the focus. The veil, which included a blusher, was also designed by Keller and was embroidered with floral designs representing each of the 53 countries in the Commonwealth. Her tiara, the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau, was on loan from the Queen herself (her "something borrowed," perhaps?).

Speaking of the Queen, Her Royal Highness was resplendent in an apple green coat and matching hat.
The Queen's kettlebrim hat was adorned with a tuft of vivid purple feathers and small purple and white flowers. The purple was carried through in the floral print dress that barely peeped out of her A-line coat, which was in turn adorned with a large diamond brooch on the lapel. And of course, a large handbag, because who would recognize the Queen without her handbag?

Next we have the immediate families of the bride and groom.

Mother of the bride, Doria Ragland, wore a mint green ensemble. Her simple, round-necked sheath dress was paired with a knee-length A-line coat with slightly flared sleeves. The dress and coat both had lovely white embroidery at the hem, and were topped with a pert cap with a simple bow at the back.

Stepmother of the groom, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, wore a pale pink flared coatdress accented with a stunning 5-strand pearl choker with a large pink topaz surrounded by smaller diamonds. She topped the ensemble with a large picture hat covered with fluffy feathers. Feathery hats are something of her trademark, and although the hat received some criticism, I loved it and thought it suited her nicely.

Sister-in-law of the groom, the Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. Kate Middleton), wore a pale yellow dress and tipped hat accented with cabbage roses. Her look was elegant and understated, not taking any attention away from the bride.

Then we have a few more distant relatives.

Aunt of the groom, Countess Karen Spencer (shown here with her husband, Princess Diana's younger brother Charles, the Earl of Spencer), wore a bright purple dress with matching capelet and an amazing hat trimmed with curls of wide ribbon. Extra points for Charles' perfectly-coordinated necktie.
Charles and Karen's daughter, Lady Kitty Spencer, was stunning in a peacock green flared dress with wide square neckline decorated with vivid orange, gold, and red flowers, and topped with a pert little pillbox hat with a flower and feather accent. Her orange shoes and gloves were the crowning glory of the whole look.

The groom's aunt, Sarah, Duchess of York, wore a lovely navy blue coat dress with pink satin cuffs and lapels. She topped her look with a marvelous small cap adorned with fantastical loops and feathers, and a birdcage veil.

Princesses Eugenie (left) and Beatrice (right) toned down their hat game after receiving much flack from the press for the elaborately fantastical fascinators they wore to William and Kate's wedding. (I found this fact rather disappointing.) Eugenie sported a very Jackie O look in a short-sleeved vintage-style dress paired with a white pillbox hat, while Beatrice wore a dressier full bright blue dress with long sleeves and a full skirt, and a lovely hairpiece that was basically multiple satin headbands. (Thanks to those who corrected my original switching of the names!)

Princess Michael of Kent, who is married to the Queen's cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, wore a pale pink suit with a huge picture hat trimmed with cabbage roses above and below (one of my favorite hats of the day).

A not-really-noticeably pregnant Pippa Matthews (nee Middleton), sister of the groom's sister-in-law (got that?), wore a pretty pale green dress with pink and white floral details and mauve inserts in the skirt. The print of the fabric bore an unfortunate resemblance to the pattern on Arizona Iced Tea cans, but I thought her dress was lovely, and her small hat was perfectly proportioned.

Next we have celebrities, both British and American.

Victoria Beckham (shown here with husband David) wore a long navy dress with slit sleeves, a long narrow keyhole slit in front topped with a buckle at the throat and long trailing ribbon, and bright red shoes. Posh topped her look with a barely-there hat with birdcage veil.

Amal Clooney stole the show in this electric yellow dress with gathered cap sleeves, topped with a moderately-sized picture hat adorned only with a spangled birdcage veil. Simply, but stunning.

Oprah joined the many attendees wearing pale pink in this two-tiered dress with scalloped details and a large, deep-crowned picture hat with elaborate floral and feather trim and cooler-than-cool pink sunglasses.

Yet another celebrity in a dusty pink dress, Serena Williams' asymmetrical wrap-style dress was accented with a lovely chunky necklace and a small-but-tall feathered fascinator. Her handsome husband on her arm was a pretty nice accent, too. I would absolutely wear this dress myself!

Carey Mulligan sported a lighter, more summery look in a short-sleeved floaty, feminine, floral print dress with a long skirt that flared softly at the hem. Her white headpiece was so tiny that it all but disappeared in her blond updo.

Joss Stone also chose a more summery floral print in this sleeveless, above-the-knee dress. But what really made her look was the fluffy white fascinator with its antennae-like puff-tipped feathers, which caught a lot of viewers' attention as she sat in the congregation.

Abigail Spencer and Priyanka Chopra both looked gorgeous in two very disparate styles. Spencer wore a long belted shirtdress in navy blue with white polka dots and a white collar and cuffs, fitted to the hip then flaring into a full skirt, while Chopra opted for a pale lavender suit with knee-length pencil skirt and jacket with dramatically angled and structured lapels. Their hats were vastly different also, with Spencer completing her vintage look with a 50s-style small hat covered with roses and a birdcage veil, and Chopra in a picture hat with roguishly tilted brim and large tulle pouf at the back.

Gina Torres wore a beautiful red-and-white chiffon dress with solid red trim on the neck and placket and elbow-length sleeves, paired with an understated pale pink small-brimmed hat. Just lovely - and another dress I would gladly wear myself.

The bride and groom changed out of their wedding clothes into slightly less formal outfits for their reception.

The bride's reception dress, designed by Stella McCartney, was a white halter column with a small train, just as simple and lovely as her wedding gown.

Here's to the newlyweds! May their life together be as simple and lovely as their clothes.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The 2018 Met Gala: Fashion Review

The fashion at the annual Met Gala is always edgy and couture, even by red carpet standards. But this year's theme, "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination," was just begging for celebrities to cross the line from "edgy" into just plain "poor taste." I am pleased to say that the majority of the celebs on the red carpet managed to stay inside that line, imitating famous paintings and icons of saints, or incorporating halo-like headpieces or wings, but there were a few that danced on the edge of mockery by wearing a stylized bishop's mitre or a cardinal's robe. A few celebs, no doubt thinking "Discretion is the better part of valor," ignored the theme altogether and simply wore eye-catching couture gowns. Here are a few of the most memorable looks from the 2018 Met Gala, divided by category.

Hoods and Cowls

Juliette Lewis' clinging gold gown with mid-length train gave off a slight aura of religious garb, its draped hood bringing to mind a medieval monk's cowl or even a nun's wimple.

Priyanka Chopra often wears Indian-inspired fashion, and her stunning deep cranberry velvet column with separate circle train topped with a gilded yoke and hood was one of my favorites. The pop of bright red lipstick was the perfect accent.

Olivia Munn paired her figure-hugging gold column with a chained hood that, while not reminiscent of clerical garb, did remind me of the Crusaders. I would have liked a bit more tie-in to the theme, but at least she made the attempt.

Clerical Garb and Crosses

Laura Dern opted for a simple white dress with a vertical black front panel and sash that formed a cross, the keyhole cutout creating a "crux ansata" similar to the Egyptian ankh. Her spiky diamond necklace also looked a bit like a fallen halo.

Greta Gerwig wore a hugely voluminous short-sleeved gown over a puffy-sleeved white shirt. With its slightly stand-up collar, it looked to me like a riff on a cassock.

I was not a fan of Taylor Hill's modified cardinal's robe with its open sides, high front slit, and red satin sash, especially paired with a large cross. Or perhaps that should read, "crass." It's right up there with "sexy nun" costumes at Halloween.

Jennifer Lopez was much more successful with her Crusader-inspired gown. The cutouts above the large cross on the bodice showed just a little skin, contrasting nicely with the conservatively long sleeves and squared-off yoke, and the hint of silver criss-cross at the top of the split black feather skirt was a nod to the chain mail often worn by Crusaders.

Sarah Jessica Parker made an interesting choice of religious garb by wearing an actual nativity scene on her head! At first glance, her outfit made me think of traditional Laotian or Thai clothing ("Little House of Uncle Thomas" from "The King and I," anyone?), but upon looking closer, her gold gown is emblazoned with red hearts such as are often depicted in "Sacred Heart" iconography. I don't love the silhouette of the gown, particularly the multi-pointed shoulder poufs, but the concept is at least intriguing. That headpiece looks particularly painful, so points for committing to the concept, as well.

Rihanna's white and silver minidress with matching shoulder wrap and longer overskirt was quite pretty, but I didn't love that she paired it with a silver bishop's mitre. Aside from the religious connotations, it makes the look top-heavy and unbalanced. A delicate silver halo would have worked much better on several levels.


Mary J. Blige was among those who eschewed the theme in all but the loosest sense, giving just a hint of the angelic in her high-slit white gown with long trailing scarf and gold feather embroidery, paired with thigh-high boots. Come to think of it, maybe there's a little bit of devil involved as well.

Another all-white ensemble was worn by Kate Bosworth, who opted for a very bridal look. Her frothy lace gown had a full-length train and she wore a white veil edged with pearls. It certainly would have looked at home at the front of a church!

Hailee Steinfeld's simple white column was accented by flared panels in the back which hinted at wings, and she topped her look with a halo-like diamond headband.

Sarah Paulson's white and silver column included a cape which hinted at wings, but the silhouette, with its stiff A-line and puffed sleeves, also called to mind traditional clerical garb.

Instead of dressing like an angel, Emilia Clarke opted for a strapless black column with elaborate gold trim and multiple pictures of angels - cherubs, to be specific. Her blond locks were also braided into a halo-like coronet.

Selena Gomez wore an angelic white gown with a silver-trimmed spaghetti-strap bodice and a full skirt made of three tiers of sheer fabric trimmed with feathery lace, ending in a huge train.

Katy Perry certainly committed to the angel imagery in this pair of enormous white and gold feathered wings that could have come straight off the Victoria's Secret runway. She paired the wings with a pretty gold slip dress with sheer bell sleeves, all studded with pearls, and over-the-knee gold lame stiletto boots. It was dramatic enough that it worked very well.


A number of celebrities, including Cardi B, wore ornate halos. Cardi's halo was set into a large white base and it and her column gown were both studded with silver stars. Her gown  was finished with a voluminous white satin train. And a lot of cleavage. And I mean A LOT of cleavage.

Lynda Carter's halo was a more subdued golden crown worn with a lovely teal gown with matching short jacket and lots of angular draping at the back.

Lily Collins wore a severely-cut black and white gown softened with an elaborately braided updo topped with a black halo, and accented with a painted teardrop under one eye. Very dramatic!

Anne Hathaway paired a spiky black halo with a striking blood-red satin ballgown with front keyhole slit and a broad collar-like bodice. Couture, angel, and devil all in one.

Even when Solange Knowles doesn't design her own outfits, she tends to be something of a trainwreck, and this look was no exception. I did like the style of her gold halo, especially the way it was attached to the back of her head with a type of black 'do rag. But the shiny black vinyl dress looked like a half-inflated but melted truck tire, and even the thigh-high stiletto boots couldn't save the look.

Janelle Monae modified her signature black-and-white couture look by pairing a geometric column and short jacket with an enormous gold-lined, bonnet-style halo and a chain-mail hood. It was an interesting way to combine couture with the theme of the evening.

SZA (no idea who she is, but according to Google her "name" is pronounced "SIZZ-ah") also combined couture with a halo headpiece. Her pale pink ballgown featured pannier-style tufts at the hips and a heavily beaded bodice, but it was her delicate and graceful halo headpiece that made the look stand out.

Historical Figures

Donatella Versace channeled Joan of Arc in an embellished chain mail tunic with matching boots and a full cobalt blue taffeta skirt overlay topped with a wide black leather belt and oversized gold buckle. This was a wonderful pairing of theme and fashion.

Madonna - never one to shy away from religious imagery - opted for a look that brought to mind Queen Isabella I of Spain, a famously devout Catholic. Her all-black ball gown featured a simple gold cross on the bodice, with crepe bell sleeves and a full satin skirt. Her look was topped with a lovely gold crown that curved just enough to hint at being a halo. For her, it was a very toned-down and respectful look.

Shailene Woodley was almost unrecognizable in her Joan of Arc get-up, with its high-necked, long-sleeved silver tunic with white cuffs and skin-tight thigh-high black boots, topped with a sleek black bun and babydoll bangs. I didn't love it, but she committed to it fully and I give her credit for that.

Easily the most successful of the Joans of Arc, Zendaya took the chain mail style and converted it into a beautifully draped dress with a slightly more structured bodice and a fascinating breastplate-inspired collar and shoulder gauntlets. She's also rocking Joan's traditional pageboy hairstyle. Interesting and flattering couture and a clear tribute to a religious icon. Very well played.

 Pure Couture

Cara Delevingne skipped the religious aspect altogether (I think, unless this is supposed to be a REALLY moth-eaten cassock) in this bizarre see-through black and white geometric number which alternates narrow bands of black fabric with sheer sections of wide fishnet, topped with a black crown and a veil of black beaded stars covering her face. Fortunately, the bodice has a flesh-toned lining, but the black underpants are all too visible. I'm not a fan.

I think Ariana Grande may have been stretching things when she announced that her gown was the design of the rear wall of the Sistine Chapel, but I do agree that the cut of the gown and the colors and pattern of the fabric are simply breathtaking. I could live without the giant beige Minnie Mouse bow on top of her head, but otherwise it's an elegant and just slightly edgy look.

Gigi Hadid's striking midnight blue flared gown covered with tan and gray feathers could have gone in the "Angels" category, but it's really the overall silhouette and colors of the gown that are striking, not just the feather pattern, so I'm categorizing it as couture. Really, really lovely couture.

 Scarlett Johansson's fashion is often hit or miss for me, so I was delighted with her gorgeous off-the-shoulder, deep red-to-white gown with floral accents. It's delicate and feminine without being too frilly, and the colors are just  slight nod to the theme. Plus, I think she looks fantastic as a brunette and this hairstyle looks great on her. Well done.

Blake Lively rarely stumbles on the red carpet, and she most certainly did not in this amazing red and silver gown. The jeweled silver bodice gave way to trails of silver embroidery down the length of the red satin skirt with its huge but graceful train, and her perfect posture and modelesque pose absolutely sell it. One of my favorite looks of the night.

Nicki Minaj was also somewhat surprising in her relatively conservative look, pairing a fairly simple red sequined column with a red and black wrap that cascaded into a long train, accessorized by an Egyptian-looking beaded hair cover and matching heavy collar necklace. It was actually quite a flattering and interesting look. 

Yet another red couture gown, Ruby Rose went with a satin halter dress with full, pleated overlay skirt and wide sash. It moved beautifully, but it wasn't quite wild enough to stand out in this venue. 

Alicia Vikander does not shy away from daring fashion, so I was a bit disappointed in her black-over-white lace column with white shrug and black elbow-length gloves. It was pretty, it was just terribly bland and uninspired. 

Amal Clooney ignored the theme but still looked fantastic in her strapless open-fronted blue floral print gown worn over purple satin pants. It shouldn't have worked, yet somehow it looked ethereal instead of heavy, and colors that should have clashed, complemented.

I had to look twice to believe that this is Frances McDormand. Yes, really! McDormand is just about the opposite of a fashionista, not really looking bad on the red carpet most of the time, but not exactly known for her cutting edge fashion. But she was definitely cutting edge in this puffy aqua cape with hugely ruffled neck and wild feathery headdress, worn over a chartreuse underdress. I was pleased to see that she at least stuck to her usual style of not wearing makeup. You do you, Frances.

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