Harrods sells up to 40 a year at pounds 1,035 a time.

Using the currently fashionable straight line, Louisa, designed by Catherine Rayner, has cleverly positioned ruching to give a straight silhouette while masking all sorts of evils underneath. A straight train reinforces the overall vertical look, and visions which the bride may have had of tortuous corsetry to keep bulges in can be forgotten.

'It is basically a straight dress that any figure can wear, explains assistant Sarah Game. 'It hides bums, tums or hips and the classic English pear shape. People who have a figure like that look great in this dress.

'Even pregnant women can get away with it in this, as long as they tell us they're expecting before they order anything. We need to know that they will expand. We made a 'Louisa' last year for a girl who was size 22, and she looked great.

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