Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Selma Blair has re­vealed that she has mul­ti­ple sclero­sis. Hi­lary Free­man, 46, who also has MS, ap­plauds her hon­esty about the mis­un­der­stood con­di­tion...

Grazia (UK) - - 10 Hot Stories - WORDS LAURA CRAIK

ANY PREG­NANCY CAN be ex­haust­ing. Your hor­mones are all over the place, your body’s chang­ing rapidly and you de­velop ran­dom aver­sions to the sim­plest foods, scents and peo­ple that you en­counter – not least your blame­less part­ner. Ideally, this is a time in which to keep life sim­ple: pare back, snug­gle up, stick on a box set. Or, you could em­bark on a 16-day, 76-en­gage­ment-strong tour 10,000 miles away, on the other side of the world.

Alas, there was no hid­ing un­der the radar for the Duchess of Sus­sex as she set off (fly­ing com­mer­cial) on her gru­elling trip to Aus­tralia – her first of­fi­cial royal tour since mar­ry­ing her prince in May. In­stead, the eyes of the world were upon her, watch­ing gim­let-eyed to see which de­sign­ers she would bless with her mu­nif­i­cence – and what her bump would look like as she did. Of course, she was al­ways im­mac­u­lately coiffed, in a se­lec­tion of out­fits cho­sen so diplo­mat­i­cally that even the most crit­i­cal pun­dit would have to high-five the ef­forts of her stylist(s).

It was a given than the duchess would shine a spot­light on up-and-com­ing Aus­tralian de­sign­ers, and she did, kick­ing off the first day of her tour in a $1,285 sleeve­less ivory fit­ted dress, aptly named Blessed, by eth­i­cal de­signer Karen Gee. Blessed, in­deed: Gee’s web­site promptly crashed as cus­tomers rushed to buy it.

It was the same story when the duchess stepped out in Mel­bourne wear­ing a navy Folded Sail dress with an asym­met­ric hem, by Dion Lee. ‘It’s a whole other level… I can’t say our web­site has ever crashed as a re­sult of any­one wear­ing our clothes,’ the de­signer shared on Twit­ter. Then, on Fri­day, she wore a brown-and­white striped maxidress by Paris-based, Aussie-born Martin Grant – a re­laxed choice for an out­ing to Bondi Beach, which saw Meghan and her hus­band kick­ing off their shoes and sit­ting cross­legged in the sand. ‘ The dress is not 

de­signed as a preg­nancy dress but she’s not re­ally show­ing, so it works well,’ said Grant, who saw or­ders for the $1,420 maxidress rise sharply. The Duchess also wore Grant’s $1,690 beige trench coat – twice – on out­ings in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne, prov­ing that she re-wears clothes just like any­one else.

On day four, she paid her first trib­ute to a Bri­tish de­signer, choos­ing a £1,299 sleeve­less dress with a full skirt by Ser­bian­born, Lon­don-based de­signer Rok­sanda Ilin­cic – a favourite of Michelle Obama, Saman­tha Cameron and, er, Me­la­nia Trump. In navy blue with a pale blue bor­der, the ’50s-in­spired dress was the per­fect choice for her visit to Macarthur Girls High School in Syd­ney, the full three-quar­ter length skirt al­low­ing her to crouch down freely among the pupils.

An­other Brit was in the spot­light on Satur­day, with the duchess choos­ing the Camila, a sim­ple black dress, again with a full, three-quar­ter length skirt, by Emilia Wick­stead – a mag­nan­i­mous choice, some might say, given that in May, a Bri­tish tabloid re­ported Wick­stead as say­ing that Meghan’s Givenchy wed­ding dress was ‘iden­ti­cal’ to one of her de­signs. Wick­stead later pro­fessed to be ‘ex­tremely sad­dened’ by the re­port. Luck­ily, it didn’t sad­den the duchess to the ex­tent that the la­bel was off-menu.

Meghan didn’t for­get to sup­port Amer­i­can tal­ent, ei­ther. On Tues­day she wore a $145 blazer from her friend Ser­ena Wil­liams’ cloth­ing range, aptly named The Boss. It sold out im­me­di­ately – as did the black Har­riet jeans she wore with it, by Aussie brand Out­land Denim. She was also spot­ted in a black Miguel­lina dress by Club Monaco, priced $325. This she wore with her trusty black $145 flats by Rothys, an eco-friendly brand made from 100% re­cy­cled plas­tic water bot­tles. No doubt sales have hit the roof: Net-a- Porter re­ports a 176% in­crease in sales of Veja sneak­ers since Meghan wore them on her tour, as well as a 442% lift in Cas­taner’s black es­padrilles.

And then there was the evening wear, tricky at the best of times, never mind when preg­nant. All credit to Meghan’s ‘un­of­fi­cial’ stylist, close friend Jess Mul­roney, that she looked flaw­less at Tues­day night’s din­ner in Fiji in a slen­der blue Safiyaa gown that diplo­mat­i­cally mir­rored the colour of the Fi­jan flag. She could have added a tiara, but opted in­stead for bor­rowed di­a­mond drop ear­rings – a less for­mal choice, but a wise one, in keep­ing with the in­for­mal­ity of her wardrobe through­out the trip.

And if her only slip-up dur­ing her 16 day, multi-out­fit odyssey was ne­glect­ing to cut off the tag from the back of her red £345 Self-por­trait dress? Well, no­body’s per­fect. Although in her wardrobe choices through­out this in­au­gu­ral trip, the duchess came pretty close.

MY MS CAME of age this year. Un­be­liev­ably, it’s now 21 years since I was di­ag­nosed with the in­cur­able con­di­tion, since the words, ‘I’m sorry, but you have MS,’ in­stantly trans­formed me from a care­free 25-year-old, wor­ried about my ca­reer, boyfriends and trav­el­ling, into some­one forced to con­front my mor­tal­ity and re­assess my whole fu­ture.

So I know how ac­tor Selma Blair, who last week told the world that she’d been di­ag­nosed with MS, must be feel­ing. The neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tion causes the im­mune sys­tem to at­tack the pro­tec­tive coat­ing of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, re­sult­ing in mo­bil­ity and vi­sion prob­lems. So Selma will be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a con­tra­dic­tory mix of emo­tions: re­lief at fi­nally know­ing what’s wrong, shock and grief, and ter­ror of an un­known and po­ten­tially fright­en­ing fu­ture.

The 46-year-old star of Cruel In­ten­tions re­vealed in an In­sta­gram post: ‘I am dis­abled. I fall some­times. I drop things. My me­mory is foggy. And my left side is ask­ing for direc­tions from a bro­ken GPS.’

In the wake of my own di­ag­no­sis, I re­mem­ber feel­ing strangely calm as I com­forted my mother, who ir­ra­tionally blamed her­self. I also won­dered if my boyfriend would stick by me ( he did, although we later di­vorced), whether I’d lose my job or ever have chil­dren.

I’d been hav­ing weird symp­toms for a few years: patches of numb­ness, blurred vi­sion, clum­si­ness, all of which I put down to youth­ful ex­cesses. But one day I woke up and couldn’t feel any­thing from the waist down. It was as if my lower body was en­cased in a plas­ter cast. When I tried to get out of bed, my legs col­lapsed un­der­neath me and I crum­pled to the floor. Af­ter months of tests, I fi­nally learned what was wrong.

About 100 peo­ple in the UK are di­ag­nosed with mul­ti­ple sclero­sis each week. For rea­sons as yet un­known, it dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fects women: we are around three times as likely to de­velop the con­di­tion as men. The good news – if de­vel­op­ing an in­cur­able, dis­abling con­di­tion can ever be seen as such – is that be­ing young at di­ag­no­sis gen­er­ally means that your prog­no­sis is bet­ter.

When some­one well-known like Selma Blair goes pub­lic about hav­ing MS, I ap­plaud, be­cause I know that she’ll raise aware­ness and help to dis­pel the myths about the con­di­tion. And there are a lot of them: that it’s an old peo­ple’s prob­lem (most, like me, are di­ag­nosed in their twen­ties or thir­ties); that it’s a mus­cle wast­ing dis­ease; that it’s what Stephen Hawk­ing had ( he had mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease); that ev­ery­one with it ends up in a wheel­chair ( in fact, most don’t need to use one, and rarely per­ma­nently); that it’s a ter­mi­nal ill­ness – peo­ple can live with it for 50 years and it ac­tu­ally only short­ens life­span, on av­er­age, by six or seven years.

Two decades on from my di­ag­no­sis, I am do­ing bet­ter than I ever be­lieved pos­si­ble: still mo­bile, ac­tive and able to work. And although I put off hav­ing chil­dren for a long time, partly be­cause I was afraid of giv­ing a child the re­spon­si­bil­ity of car­ing for me, I now have a gor­geous three-year-old daugh­ter with my part­ner. Doc­tors now know that giv­ing birth doesn’t make MS worse in the long term, and it ac­tu­ally has a pro­tec­tive ef­fect while you’re preg­nant, with re­lapse rates go­ing down, espe­cially dur­ing the third trimester. I’m in­cred­i­bly lucky that my MS is classed as be­nign, which means that although I still have symp­toms, such as numb­ness and tin­gling, blurred vi­sion and fa­tigue, I have no resid­ual dis­abil­ity.

MS is ac­tu­ally a very in­di­vid­ual dis­ease; no two peo­ple have ex­actly the same symp­toms or ex­pe­ri­ence. I wish I didn’t have the con­di­tion, but I’ve learned to live with it – and it’s now as much a part of my iden­tity as hav­ing curly hair. MS So­ci­ety Helpline: 0808 800 8000

WE’RE ALL FA­MIL­IAR with the more typ­i­cal mil­i­tary gar­ments – from field and flight jack­ets to khakis and cam­ou­flage – to have hit the run­way. But the bal­a­clava? Well, that one’s new.

Gucci’s Alessan­dro Michele dressed up his bal­a­clavas with blingy crys­tals, GG mono­grams and knit­ted deer il­lus­tra­tions. Preen by Thorn­ton Bregazzi made theirs a bal­a­clava from Brideshead Re­vis­ited, re­plete with ei­der­down flo­rals, lace trim­mings and crafted in gauzy chif­fons. Richard Mal­one’s looked like a so­phis­ti­cated rain hood worn by grand­moth­ers dur­ing a down­pour, while at Calvin Klein, Raf Si­mons said his stripy-knit head­wear was rep­re­sen­ta­tive of pro­tec­tion. Per­haps from the Pres­i­dent.

Fash­ion loves a good gim­micky ac­ces­sory. Look only to the pave­ments on the streets around you to see how the ugly ‘Dad’ sneaker trend has ex­pe­ri­enced un­ex­pected yet en­dur­ing preva­lence. Re­mem­ber also Christo­pher Kane’s fluffy-lined Crocs, or those hideous Ba­len­ci­aga ver­sions that were fin­ished with car­toon brooches.

But, where the Ba­len­ci­aga Crocs failed in their im­prac­ti­cal­ity – with tow­er­ing plat­forms that would no doubt in­cite an an­kle in­jury – is where the bal­a­clava might gain trac­tion: no one can deny its warmth and its func­tion­al­ity – a hat and a scarf in one.

The first time the Gucci bal­a­clava (as seen on Ri­hanna) was stocked on Lyst, it sold out in days. There was also a 19% spike for the brand in 24 hours.

‘It’s likely bal­a­clavas on the cat­walks has caused an in­ter­est in peo­ple view­ing them on­line, but it’s been in­ter­est­ing to see the cor­re­la­tion between searches and sales. The hype around the piece of head­gear is clearly vis­i­ble in searches,’ said Lyst’s se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions ex­ec­u­tive and mi­cro-trends ex­pert, Yas­mine Bachir.

‘I wanted to cre­ate a re­fined ur­ban bal­a­clava that is fun and that has the bo­hemian flair of ’70s style,’ says Esra Bezek Diken­cik, founder of Cash­mere in Love, which has a striped pom-pom ver­sion this sea­son. ‘I walk a lot to work or to the gym, and I cy­cle, so I feel the cold most of the time. I like the feel of the cash­mere against my skin.’

But how would she rec­om­mend wear­ing it? ‘It’s quite ver­sa­tile, since you can roll it up and use it as a beanie or pull it back and use it as a neck-warmer,’ Esra says of the de­sign, which has eye holes big enough to al­low sun­glasses to be worn. The bal­a­clava, then, is the incog­nito celebrity’s best friend. Will it be yours?


a t r u ly re­gal fi­jan a r r i va l

Selma Blair out in LA last week and (right) her re­veal­ing In­sta­gram post

Logo, £43, Puma ( far­ Striped, £315, Gucci (dover­street­mar­

Bunny ap­pliqué, £260, Gucci (match­es­fash­

Red, £231, Le Kasha ( far­

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