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Tag Archives: British

Uniting a Kingdom of Isles

The Irish and the English have been fighting for centuries, which has led to violence, oppression, terrorism and death.  In the short year that Kate Middleton and Prince William have been married, it seems the royal couple have been attempting to take small steps to uniting the two countries through… fashion?  It might sound shallow at first, but it seems the prince and princess have been honoring the Emerald Isle all year!  Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and in honor of March 17th, Kate Middleton handed out bouquets of shamrocks (the national flower of Ireland) to the Irish Guard (pictured, above).  The princess sported a gorgeous belted green Emilia Wickstead coat with chocolate suede pumps and a matching “Betty Boop” hat by Lock and Co.  She topped off her look with a gold shamrock brooch, previously used by the Queen Mother and Princess Anne, a bouquet of shamrocks in her lapel, and amethyst and diamond earrings by Kiki McDonough (hmm, a jeweler with an Irish surname).  For their enormous wedding last April, Prince William donned the traditional red dress uniform of the Irish Guard.  Considering one out of every three people on Earth watched the royal wedding, we have a feeling the prince was trying to make a statement about his respect for Ireland.  Last year, William was appointed to the honorary rank of of Colonel of the Irish Guard, and last June the couple handed out operational service medals to the Guards who fought in Afghanistan (pictured, below).  Princess Kate has also been sporting Irish designer Orla Kiely quite a bit, lately.  Earlier this week, she wore a lovely gray accordion dress while visiting the Dulwich Picture Gallery (pictured, above left).  In February, while visiting schools in Oxford, she wore a 1970s walnut-brown bird patterned dress coat by Kiely that sold out within minutes (pictured, above right).  While the British-Irish conflict isn’t exactly a problem that will be fixed with clothing, it’s nice to see the young royals making an effort to unite the two cultures with shared traditions and Irish fashion.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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The Way W./E. Were

We’re not exactly Madonna fans here at theSkinnyStiletto.  After viewing the more realistic “love story” between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII in last year’s Best Picture winner, The King’s Speech, and how much pain and embarrassment he caused his younger brother with a speech impediment, who would have to take the throne following his abdication, this romance certainly lost any allure that Elaine was yammering on about when she made herself sick on a piece of their wedding cake on Seinfeld.  Considering those two facts (and that this film opened to horrible reviews), W./E. wasn’t exactly on our must-see list of 2011.  But, the photos of the costumes are so delicious, we’re quite tempted to rent this flick!  English actress Andrea Riseborough plays the American socialite that throws the line of British royalty out of whack, when King Edward decides to leave the throne, in order to marry the twice-divorced American.  (Riseborough was fantastic in 2010’s Made in Dagenham, if you’re looking for a good movie to see her in.)  Even though W./E. didn’t get positive reviews, Riseborough looks pitch-perfect as Wallis Simpson.  In fact, she actually even reminded us of Madonna herself, when she played a 1940s dark brunette in A League of their Own (the only film associated with the Material Girl that has a good reputation.)  James D’Arcy was also exceptionally well-cast as the young, slender blonde king.  Some of the film’s stills look so real, they could pass for actual historical photos.  Madonna hired costume designer Arianne Phillips to create the outfits for the film, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her stunning work.  (We think she deserves this Oscar!)  Phillips began work on the film a year prior to filming even began, studying costumes at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York and Musée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris.  Many of Simpson’s original dresses have been kept in museum archives, which were unavailable for Madonna’s production.  Many couture houses offered to recreate outfits for W./E., including Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli and Balenciaga.  (Fun Fact: Madonna asked for a wedding dress from one of Phillips’ competitors for the Oscar this year, Michael O’Connor.  The gown was on display at the National Museum of Costume in Scotland, whose general manager agreed to lend Madonna the dress.)  Co-stars of the film also looked fabulous in their various looks.  Abbie Cornish (pictured, above left) plays a modern girl researching Wallis, and looked wonderful in an all black shift with a matching cardigan, purse and pumps.  Natalie Dormer (pictured, above right) looks fantastic as a young Queen Mother.  In the above scene, she’s being fitted for a hat by the famous milliner Stephen Jones, which is Elizabeth and her daughter’s go-to accessory.  Phillips told W Magazine, “To me, Wallis Simpson was a style icon, but I didn’t know she was a couture client well before she met Edward.  She was also a hungry whore for jewelry.  Edward gave Wallis jewelry to make her feel royal.  My first task was figuring out how to re-create those famous gifts.”  Phillips contacted Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels to replicate several pieces from Simpson’s jewelry collection, including a famous emerald cross bracelet Edward gave to her.  Phillips also got in touch with luxury goods company Alfred Dunhill and Savile Row to get original fabrics and wool from the mills that actually created clothing for King Edward.  Phillips’ work and research on the film was not only thorough, but absolutely gorgeous.  Any one of Wallis Simpson’s beautiful outfits is inspiring today, even 80 years later.  We’re rooting for Arianne this year!


2012 BAFTA Rundown

The British are elegant and friendly people, so it’s no surprise their film award ceremony is as delightful as they are.  This year, not too many gowns wowed us, but there were several excellent choices on the London red carpet.  Best Actress nominee Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) shocked everyone by showing up in this sophisticated black and white silhouette from… H&M!  While you won’t find this gown at your local mall, Williams still looks adorable with red lipstick, dark nails and the accessory of the season – an Arthur Miller book clutch from Olympia Le-Tan.  (Fun Fact: Arthur Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe, who Williams was nominated for playing!)  Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig looked especially beautiful in a gathered white Alberta Ferretti gown and new brunette locks.  Our final favorite was created by Valentino – the perfect designer to feature two days before Valentine’s Day!  Best Actress nominee Viola Davis decided to take part in the Green Carpet Challenge (where celebrities sport environmentally-sound digs on the red carpet), wearing a one-shouldered light pink gown made of eco fabric and… recycled plastic bottles!  Going green never looked so good!


Look-of-the-Day

At this point, we should have written a single article on all the fantastic looks of Carey Mulligan as a teenager who grows up too fast in An Education.  This is the third look we’ve featured from the film, and we still have a couple more we’d like to feature!  In the 2009 movie, Mulligan’s character, Jenny, is seduced by the glamor and sophistication of an older group of socialites.  Here, she is pictured with her female “mentor,” Helen, who teaches her how to dress and put on makeup, so she can look like a mature woman.  Helen is played by British actress Rosamund Pike.  (Fun Fact: Pike played Mulligan’s older sister in 2005’s Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley.  It was Mulligan’s first movie role!)  Here, Jenny is sporting one of Helen’s little black dresses with a soft white coat, black and white driving gloves and a small leopard hat.  Helen is quite a match in a leopard coat, cream-colored shift with matching gloves and a white fur hat.  The two make quite a cute pair, but Jenny will soon realize that her new social group is neither glamorous, nor are they true friends…


South Pole Chic

This time of year usually revolves around the North Pole, but this week the news has been all about its magnetic opposite.  Yesterday was the 100th Anniversary of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (pictured, above) reaching the South Pole – making him the first human to ever set foot on the continent.  About 10 years ago, this editor’s father made her read an article on the Antarctica voyager, Sir Ernest Shackleton, (pictured, below) in National Geographic.  He was trying to illustrate the importance of hard work and determination, but being a teenage girl, the most memorable part I took away from the remarkable story was the fact that Shackleton outfitted his crew in Burberry.  The British label is eponymous with glamorous raincoats, so it was quite surprising to learn that the chic clothing line was the choice of a rugged adventurer.  Thomas Burberry, the company’s founder, invented the waterproof fabric gabardine (for those of you Seinfeld fans – that’s the thin layer of cloth separating Kramer and his private parts from his friends, when he decides to stop wearing underwear).  The company went on to make coats that would keep these explorers, including Amundsen, dry and warm in extreme temperatures and conditions, which started the company’s tradition and reputation for creating resilient outerwear.  The men on these ships would generally wear wool layers and top it off with a Burberry gabardine coat.  (Fun Fact: This editor got a Burberry trench for college graduation from her parents, and it is the finest piece of clothing I’ve ever – and probably will ever – own.  Tim Gunn said one Burberry trench should literally “last a lifetime.”)  Burberry is also committed to supporting the imagination and vision these voyagers held, by creating the Burberry Foundation, which organizes opportunities for young people with dreams.  So when Santa enjoys himself by the fire this year, remember it was Burberry keeping his brothers on the other side of the globe warm enough to live to tell about it.  Saint Nick brings presents, but these men brought us the extraordinary tale of seeing the world – and never giving up.


Look-of-the-Day

Lady Catherine is no stranger to our readers and it’s no secret she is lovely in lace, so for today’s feature we’re showing one of our favorite pieces the Duchess wore upon her arrival to North America.  Middleton was a show-stopper when she touched down in Canada in this lace, navy-hued Erdem frock.  To lengthen her gorgeous gams, the royal clotheshorse paired her understated clutch perfectly with nude L.K. Bennett heels.  With her signature smokey eyes, pale pink lips, and relaxed tresses, she makes it all look so effortless and so bloody fabulous!  Just one more look to add to her pile of perfection…


Look-of-the-Day

This probably should have been a “Look-of-the-Day” pick a couple of weeks ago when Princess Catherine first wore it, but we waited till now!  Kate Middleton, looking glamorous as always wore this belted lavender Alexander McQueen gown when visiting Los Angeles in July.  (This editor was supposed to attend the Alexander McQueen Exhibit at the Met with one of her best buddies today, but work got in the way… Boo!)  Her platform silver strappy heels were by Jimmy Choo and her earrings were lent to her by Queen Elizabeth.  William and Kate were attending the BAFTA Brits to Watch event in LA after their visit to Canada (where Kate also looked fab).  The couple fit in perfectly among the Hollywood hotties who were trying to schmooze with the royal pair – although Kate outshined all of them!