A few weeks ago I was chatting to my mother on the phone. This is not an unusual occurrence, but I always look forward to our chats because my mother is, often unwittingly, the source of both the divine and the absurd inspiration when it comes to the writing of this column.
She’s convinced that I take artistic license, that she can’t possibly be the person that’s described in (very) brief terms every few weeks. She just hasn’t come to deal with that fact that, like every parent I have ever met, under the fragile veneer of normality, she is totally bonkers. Deal with it Mom. You’re an inspiration to us all.
This chat was a doozy. ‘Who do you think will be designing Kate’s wedding dress?’ she said. ‘I hear Alexander McQueen will be doing it’.
‘No... I don’t think so. You do know that Alexander McQueen is dead, don’t you?’
‘Of course I do’, she trilled, (this is the point where my mother puts down the paper and thinks ‘I never trill! What are these filthy lies!’. This is all true, by the way. Scouts Honour) ‘I mean the person that’s taken over at McQueen’.
‘I don’t know Mom. It’s possible. She’ll probably pick a British designer’.
‘And what do you think the dress will look like? Won’t it be lovely! I’m going to have a garden party to celebrate the day.’
I feel at this point that I should reassure you that my mother has more than two brain cells to rub together. She is just suffering from an unfortunate affliction that reaches epidemic proportions whenever a famous person gets married. Double symptoms if said famous person is a member of a royal family.
This affliction revolves around one thing and one thing only; the dress. Not the ceremony, not the honeymoon, not the guestlist. It’s all about the dress. The dress, the dress, the dress.
This year we have two Kates getting married. Kate Middleton. Kate Moss. One wants her dress to be a surprise for her husband to be. The other asked John Galliano to design hers, but now she’s having second thoughts. Send answers in on a postcard, but don’t expect a prize. Either way, both are leading the media and the terminally curious on a merry dance around the bridal shop.
We want to be a part of these weddings. We want to be in on the bride’s secrets. I think the reason that the dress is the nexus of all our obsessions is that it’s a common denominator. Every woman who wants to get married has, in theory, the option to wear a white dress. It’s simple, it’s reliable and it’s a shared experience between you and every beautiful woman who ever said I do.
You may not marry a prince, or be a famous model. The guest list may not include Elton John and the honeymoon may not be in St. Barts - but the dress will always be there. That’s something that you and my mother and Kate Middleton will always have in common. ‘Til dress do you part.