Herald Sun - Switched On - - Monday -

STELLA Mc­cart­ney, Alexan­der Mc­queen, Vivi­enne Westwood, Thelma Ma­dine. If that last name doesn’t ring any Bri­tish de­signer bells, you can­not be fa­mil­iar with the bling-tas­tic world of the UK gypsy wed­ding and Ma­dine’s rep­u­ta­tion as the queen of ‘‘ trav­eller’’ cou­ture.

This is one

dress­maker un­likely to find her cre­ations on the pages of Bri­tish Vogue, but if it’s a gaudy grasp of me­tres of tulle you’re af­ter, she’s the go-to girl. And in the Ir­ish town of Rathkeale — the spir­i­tual home of the Ir­ish gypsy— Ma­dine is busier than a pub­li­can on St Pa­trick’s Day.

With nine wed­dings sched­uled around Christ­mas time in the town, it’s bumper-to­bumper stretch limos, with frothy brides such as Char­lene, suf­fer­ing un­der ki­los of satin and dia­mantes, stuffed in­side.

The 18-year-old can barely breathe in her be­daz­zled Ma­dine de­sign, but is more con­cerned her groom isn’t at the church when she ar­rives.

He’s in the pub, down­ing pints of liq­uid courage. Char­lene is more char­i­ta­ble: ‘‘ He’s re­ally shy ... if he wasn’t drunk he wouldn’t go up the al­tar.’’ Ain’t love grand?

Be­sides the bridal frenzy, Christ­mas is also a hot time for holy com­mu­nions.

These young girls go all out, with tiaras, para­sols and, de­spite the nippy weather, flash­ing as much fake tannned skin as pos­si­ble.

Fans of this ad­dic­tive re­al­ity se­ries will also wel­come an up­date from new­ly­weds Josie and Swan­ley, who were mar- ried in the first sea­son: nup­tials not eas­ily for­got­ten be­cause of the punch up which ended their re­cep­tion. Classy, no?

The happy cou­ple are with child and take the cam­eras along as they dis­cover the sex of their blessed babe. Big Fat Gypsy Christ­mas Life­style You Mon­day, 8.30pm

Gaudy: Gypsy style

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