Ready to Wear: Until Kidman, A-listers were mostly happy to endorse ready-to-wear

Susannah Frankel
Monday 13 July 2009 00:00
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It's good to know that even Kate Moss is not immune to the (some might say irrational) fear of turning up at a high-profile event wearing the same dress as another woman.

According to the 'Daily Mirror', the forthcoming 'Topshop NYC In 24 Hours', a reality show following the opening of the first British-born high street store in the US and due to be screened on MTV later this week, fashion tantrums ensue when Moss realises that she may not be the only person at the launch party in one of her own-label designs.

She's not the brightest light on the Christmas tree here then. One might think, after all, that the model understands that the sporting of one of the so-called "it" pieces from this collection, all of which sell out only hours after they arrive on the shop floor, would make such a turn of events highly likely – if not inevitable. But no.

"Don't you dare let anyone else wear that one," the 'Mirror' reported that she tells her, er, boss Philip Green. Good to know who's the dominant force in this relationship. "Don't, because if you do it will be a disaster." Who does she think she is? Nicole Kidman?

As the couture shows came to a close at the end of last week, the stylists behind the wardrobes of Kidman and her ilk will have been busy poring over the world's most exclusive designs to find the perfect big entrance dress for their clients.

In this instance, of course, and where no more than around eight versions of each hand-crafted garment is ever likely to be made, the margin for error is far smaller. That, some might say, is the entire point. Couture: exclusive. High street: democratic, to cast the most rose-tinted eye over the whole shebang.

It was, of course, Kidman who revitalised the habit of Hollywood's A-listers to call in haute couture for wear on the red carpet at the end of the last millennium. Up until then they were, for the most part, happy to endorse mere ready-to-wear. At the 1997 Academy Awards ceremony, the actress appeared in a chartreuse Christian Dior haute couture satin gown designed by John Galliano.

Five years later, she wore pretty pink Chanel couture (pictured) and, it is the stuff of fashion folklore, her people insisted that she would only be prepared to do so should the powers that be refuse to lend any other actress their precious wares for the occasion. They dutifully complied, safe in the knowledge that Kidman was, at that point, among the most powerful and beautiful women in attendance.

Back to Moss haranguing Green, brandishing her rolling pin, I'd like to think: "If we sell too many of these and someone turns up wearing the same dress as me ... We might have to take this dress off the rack. What if I turn up and there are seven girls in it?"

What indeed?

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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