Stephen Arthur and his Perfect Party dress

Birmingham has a new style star. Stephen Arthur, an ICT teacher from Birmingham,  created the winning design in a very special competition hosted by ITV’s This Morning programme and John Lewis. Called ‘The perfect Party dress’, the brief was to create a beautiful gown that could make all women look and feel like a million dollars. It also needed to be affordable and current.

Stephen was judged the winner after a public vote. His design, in vibrant and very christmassy red, is a timeless, elegant classic. A stunning floor-length  ball gown, crafted from the floatiest of  chiffon, the dress has a crossover neckline that creates a structured and feminine silhouette, the waist is then nipped in and gathered to create a flowing skirt. The dress is pure, classic Hollywood glamour, reminding me of  Elizabeth Taylor in her 1950s heyday, with a touch of Grace Kelly elegance thrown in for good measure.

John Lewis This Morning Perfect Party Dress, Red £99 click to visit John Lewis

I think this dress is adorable, totally current, but something you will pull out of your wardrobe again and again. Stephen is just 21 years old and totally one to watch out for in 2013.

 

The Queen of Style

I was asked to speak on my local Radio station,BBC Radio WM, yesterday, about our Queen. In particular, I was asked to speak about her style, her designers and her clothes. Because, although she may not be the name you immediately think of when discussing stylish royals, the Queen is undoubtedly one very stylish lady, perfectly able to set trends, and one whose 1950s wardrobe was full of the most beautiful outfits that continue to inspire today.

The first really iconic dress worn by our Queen was the wedding dress she wore to her 1947 wedding to Prince Philip. Designed by Norman Hartnell, this was a stunning blend of wedding romance and patriotic symbilism. Because rationing was still in place, it was said that British women sent their tokens to help to pay for the dress. This dress has stood the test of time far better than the 80s excesses worn by Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson.

Throughout the 1950s, The young Queen (just 27 when she was crowned) stayed loyal to Hartnell, who also designed the exquisite Coronation dress. Hartnell created British versions of Dior’s New Look for the radiant young monarch, with full skirts, nipped in waists and elegant powder shades. Her evening attire was as glittering and anticipated as that worn by Kate Middleton half a century later.  It was funny that when I googled The Queen 1950s, I was presented with lots of pictures of another Elizabeth, Elizabeth Taylor. In fact, there was a quite striking resemblance between the two Elizabeth’s, who were both tiny, beautiful brunettes.

The Queen moved with the times, moved on to new designers like Hardy Amies and, more recently, Stuart Parvin. She still dresses wonderfully, in bright colours, simple shapes and with the neatest of gloves and boxy handbags. Always immaculate, always age appropriate, and always with a sense of occasion, I salute a true Queen of style.

Dress Like The Queen

Lilac spot midi dress £22.40 click to visit Dorothy Perkins

This soft lilac dress has a fifties feel and is in a very Queenly lilac which would help you to stand out in a crowd.

 

Tula Marisa Large Barrel Tote Handbag, Beige £129 click to visit John Lewis

This Tula bag has a classic retro style leather design, and comes in a neutral shade that would compliment so many outfits. I love the boxy shape!

Whiteleys Fascinator, Silver £39, click to visit John Lewis

This fascinator has a definite 1950s feel to it. This looks just like something that the young Queen Elizabeth, or her stylish sister Princess Margaret would’ve worn in those heady post Coronation days.

 

 

Wallis Icon dresses – inspired by Marilyn, Grace, Audrey and Liz.

Wallis have finally unleashed their icon dress collection and it is so worth the wait. Inspired by the legendary leading ladies of Hollywood’s last Golden Age, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, these dresses are timeless classics that will slot seamlessly into your wardrobe, ensuring you have a dress to fit every occasion.

Here are the four dresses that have been introduced, along with the lady who inspired it.

The Halter Block Colour Dress

This dress, with its pencil skirt and halter neck style was inspired by the cool elegance of Grace Kelly, specifically in her role as model Lisa in Rear Window. Then the colour palette was green and white, Wallis has updated it to wearable neutral shades that will flatter most skin tones.

Halter Colour Block Dress Price:

 

The White Halter Neck Dress

Possibly the most famous dress in movie history, Travilla’s sunray pleated dress, as worn by Marilyn Monroe as ‘The Girl’ in ‘The Seven Year Itch’ is a timeless classic that is as much part of American heritage as the Empire State Building. Wallis have kept the design very similar – a slightly smaller pleat perhaps, but still the very essence of Marilyn.

White Halter Neck Dress Price: £75.00

White Halter Neck Dress Price: £75.00

The Chocolate Lace Insert Dress

Elizabeth Taylor, famously hated her performance as Gloria in Butterfield 8, believing a tracheotomy that saved her life in 1961 won her the Academy Award rather than her performance in the film. But her sexy style in the movie was a big hit,  particularly the wispy silk slips she wore. Wallis has produced a gorgeous version in chocolate, with lace inserts. This little cocktail dress is definitely the sexiest in the collection – Elizabeth would have approved.

Chocolate Lace Insert Dress Price: £75.00

The Black Fitted Shift Dress

No iconic dress collection would be complete without a tribute to Audrey Hepburn. And although she wore many iconic dresses, the black and white Givenchy dress from Sabrina springs instantly to mind, for most people, Audrey means Holly Golightly, and the perfect black shift dress as worn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Wallis has created the perfect go-anywhere shift dress, complete with the sexy back cutaway detail, that is just perfect for any, and every, occasion.

 

Black Fitted Shift Dress Price: £75.00

Black Fitted Shift Dress Price: £75.00