Catherine Walker remembered.

V&A: Catherine Walker 1989, Pearl dress for Di...

Image by moorina via Flickr

On Thursday I went to the V&A to see the Grace Kelly exhibition. After spending an hour admiring Grace’s style, we exited to the main costume exhibition. One dress made us all gasp. For there, in all its glory, was the Princess DianaElvis‘ dress, the stunning off white gem encrusted strapless dress, with short sleeved jacket with the upturned collar. This was the dress that the Franklin Mint had donated to the museum in 2005/6, the dress that had raised the most money when Diana had held her famous dress Auction.  The dress was instantly recogniseable to all, one of Diana’s most famous, most successful looks. And yet its designer was not a name instantly recognisable to all. Her name was Catherine Walker, and she has died at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.

The young Princess Diana wore a whole range of designers whilst trying to find her signature look. Belville Sassoon, Jasper Conran, Zandra Rhodes and Bruce Oldfield were amongst the designers whose clothes were worn by the willowy Princess. But it was the French-born Catherine Walker who became her favourite designer. Many of her most famous looks were created by the designer, including the salmon pink and jewel encrusted dress and bolero worn in official royal photographs taken by Lord Lichfield and worn on the official visit to India in 1992.  Walker also designed many of the day suits that the Princess wore on official engagements.

Catherine Walker was a designer who remained a Diana favourite until the end of her life. Although the Princess frequented a range of designers from overseas after her divorce from Prince Charles, including Versace and Chanel, she remained faithful to Walker, wearing a short halter neck jewel encrusted gown to the Serpentine Gallery in 1995.  The Princess was buried in a black Catherine Walker dress.Catherine Walker experienced heartache in her life. She was left a young widow with two small children in 1975, and she fought cancer twice. She was a private person who shunned publicity and the public, whilst being awarded two British design awards for couture and glamour in the early 1990’s. She designed for other royal family members, most notably the wedding dress for Lady Helen Taylor.

In a statement, her family said: “Catherine Walker overcame young widowhood and fought cancer twice with enduring bravery. “She built one of the most successful British couture brands and at the same time raised a loving family. Catherine Walker has dressed many of the world’s most beautiful women.”

Catherine Walker’s legacy are her beautiful dresses as worn by her greatest, most famous muse, The Princess of Wales. In numerous photographic images, Catherine’s amazing sense of style and eye for detail is there for all to see and admire. RIP Catherine Walker.

Fashion-mommy hits the news!

Photographer

Image via Wikipedia

I decided to contact my local press about my blog, specifically to find out if they would be interested in printing any posts with a local theme. Imagine my surprise when they say they want to do a story about me! The slant being a successful local fashion blogger and fully time mommy. Then comes the catch, we’ll send our photographer to you at 9.00am on Friday morning.

9.OOAM! Don’t get me wrong, I’m up at 9.00am, Baba gets up earlier than that most mornings, much to fashionmommy’s disgust. But to be dressed, groomed and gleaming ready for a photographer to take my picture that will appear in the local press, for all my friends, family, neighbours and complete strangers to see, was really a tall order.

In addition, what to wear? For most fashionistas, every day is a catwalk of some sort, it’s just for mommy fashionistas that catwalk is often Sainsburys, or the playgroup, or the post office. In addition, as a general rule, I don’t put my real outfit on until I’m ready to leave the house as I first have to tread through the minefield that is Baba’s breakfast and brush teeth time, both of which leave me looking like I’ve suffered some sort of attack to my person.

So I first asked Hubby ‘WHAT DO YOU THINK I SHOULD WEAR FOR THIS PHOTO SHOOT?’ He pondered this for a while, and finally offered me some words of wisdom ‘Nothing tarty’, he said. ‘what do you mean TARTY, I don’t possess anything tarty, can you think of anything more constructive to offer?’ I asked in total exasperation. He couldn’t, he’s a man and they frankly can’t remember what you wore on your wedding day, let alone give you an in-depth analysis of your wardrobe. However, ask him about shoes…well that’s another story.

So I considered the options. Jeans – boring and everyday. Maxi dress – yawn. New Next jumper – too warm for the house. Black and white 50’s dress – trying far too hard. I finally settled on two choices, a Jasper J Conran teal dress that I usually wear with grey MIU MIU heals, or a Saviour at Very dress that I describe as my Ossie Clark peasant dress, and is calf length so is very this season. I decided on this dress, with camel and black Mary Janes if I needed to go outside at all. I was all set.

the savoir dress I finally decided to wear.

But on the morning of the shoot, things didn’t go so easily. My hair had been slightly wet when I went to bed, and was slightly bouncy, with no time for straighteners. My eye was sore and bloodshot, and I had the remnants of a slight cold. I managed to get ready for exactly 9, and then Baba made a sound and said the immortal word that strikes fear into all moms. ‘POO!’

‘Are you sure?’ I said, hoping against hope that it was just a bit of non smelly wind. ‘POO!’ he repeated, and a smell confirmed it. This was going to have to be the fastest nappy change in history. It wasn’t, of course, Baba had to be chased around the room, first with nappy, then sans nappy, but with a dirty bottom that I was trying to avoid contact with. It was then that I realised it was 9.20am. Where was he?

One voicemail message confirmed he was running late. A few minutes later he arrived. I explained about the nature of my blog and he suggested some pictures surrounded by fashion books and magazines. Great I thought, as I had already set up this scene the night before. Then he suggested posing outside with my laptop in the hair. Nooooo! I thought. How cheesy. Kate Addie would never pose with her laptop in the hair, neither would Suzy Bubble. How to persuade him otherwise.

‘MAN’, shouted Baba(21 months today). ‘Car’ ‘cheese‘ he shouted as the photographer snapped away. ‘could we use him in the shot?’ The photographer wondered. Yes, I thought, just as long as I don’t have to hold him aloft in my left hand, whilst balancing the laptop in the right. So Baba joined the  shot, and very cute the final pics were.

So check out a future edition of the Express and Star for the Midlands area to see the photo, and remember all the stress that went into it!