Maxi mum glamour
Brigit Grant on what to wear when your little darling is getting married (or barmitzvahed)
IT USED to be so simple. When a daughter told her parents she was getting married (usually after a formal request for her hand to the father), a mother knew exactly what she had to do and what she should wear. In the 1960s, an MOB would be bang on trend in a boxy-cut semifitted jacket with mink trim, a straight, slim skirt and a hat made from large fabric rose petals for the big day. Looking neat and groomed was what mattered and if one opted for long, a stole was essential and a low-cut back out of the question. Indeed only parents of brides following the hippie trail got to unbutton their jackets for the ceremony and there weren’t too many of them in Stamford Hill.
Pity then today’s MOB — and that could be you —for she has to find an outfit that fits with her daughter’s theme for the nuptials, at a time when weddings grow ever more extravagant and purchasing a suitable gown requires a lottery win. Not everyone has the budget of a Beverley Hills housewife to spend on an outfit for their child’s wedding and the fluidity of fashion means they don’t have to, as there are retailers and couturiers who make stunning dresses without pricing themselves out of the market. Best of all there are some designers who understand that MOBs need TLC at this very trying time. “I call it simchah therapy,” says
Katya Wildman, who has counselled many troubled MOBs through the rigours of outfit selection. “It is my job to understand all the emotions a woman is going through. She wants to overcome her body fears and look radiant; confident yet demure. The objective is making the finished look appear effortless, even though it hasn’t been.”
Katya, who created the Bombshell dress for women who need to disguise and enhance their figure, knows that the mother of the bride — and the groom, for that matter — need something special. “A dress that doesn’t outshine the bride, but still makes a statement. And if her ex-husband is bringing his new spouse, well, I can help with that too.”
Making dresses for A-listers on the red carpet gives Katya a head start when it comes to creating a gown that is the right colour, length and fit. “Its precision stuff, whether they are buying off the peg or going for bespoke. Clothes and emotions are so intrinsically linked. To feel fabulous about ones appearance often makes for a sure fire successful day and great photos.”
Looking like an Oscar winner for under £500 isn’t a bad place for an MOB to start, particularly when the dress may be worn only once, though Casablanca-born couturier Rachel Elbaz likes to think that her dresses will get lots of wear post- celebration, as she will alter them for a small fee. Based at Rachel Couture in Knightsbridge, Rachel is very use to working with orthodox clients and her team of skilled machinists and pattern cutters create each bespoke garment in their own atelier on the premises.
After an initial consultation with the client, when the design is agreed, the fabric (from France or Italy) is chosen and measurements taken, it takes three to five weeks to deliver the final creation with about two fittings in between. Being cared for by the exuberant Rachel at her fragrant atelier is how one imagines a fitting with Coco Chanel might have been, right down to the accent
and that’s an experience every MOB should have.
Nigel Rayment may be a man, but he knows a thing or two about dressing women who need a complete look for an important occasion. He is also a master milliner — and if you are intending to wear a hat, knowing that you can acquire a complete outfit at his shop in Marble Arch makes the whole thing so much easier.
Hats are just so right for a wedding and add a touch of royalty to the proceedings, which is something West End designer Suzannah knows all about, as she makes clothes for the young royals, who are wild about her structured bodices and full skirts.
Navy, black and damson are her colours for autumn/winter 2013, which is much simpler to team with shoes than a fuchsia or turquoise.
Not every wedding, thankfully, requires an MOB to be draped in swathes of silk georgette or encased in a mermaid tail body-con satin.
Some weddings are simple daylight affairs that call for interesting attire such as a great coat worn over a day dress.
Online retailer Joe Browns has come up with some incredible coats this season, such as the Heathcliff and From Russia With Love designs which, when teamed with appropriate headwear and a high heel, are ideal for a low-key function.
The Elinor dress and Karine jacket at Ronen Chen might also be right for occasion as they can be dressed up tastefully with statement jewellery, such as the glittering necklace your husband buys you to commemorate your moment as mother of the bride.
Doris Day dress by Suzannah, £650
Duchesse Collarette dress, Suzannah, £1,350
Polaire dress, Suzannah, £950
Dress and bolero jacket by l’Atelier, £399
From Russia with Love coat, Joe Brown, £69.95
Relaxed printed coverup, Joe Browns, £44.95
Antique Unique tunic, Joe Browns, £39.95