When the comedian Tina Fey accepted an award last year wearing the same Dolce & Gabbana floral print dress as the musician Sheryl Crow, she announced: "If you want to see what this dress looks like on a surfer body, look over there. I wear it with a sweater."
Now, braving the ultimate sartorial faux pas of turning up to a wedding or party and finding someone else in an identi-dress – especially if they look better in it – may become a thing of the past.
Next month, the high street stores Karen Millen, Coast, Oasis and Warehouse are rolling out a 90-minute "seamless" delivery service across Birmingham, Belfast, Bristol and Cardiff. The service, which was successfully piloted in London in May, has also been extended to Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Coast launched the service after discovering that 87 per cent of its customers dread the thought of turning up to an occasion wearing the same outfit as another guest. A survey of 2,000 customers found that 72 per cent said they would consider leaving if they were in identikit dresses.
It can be the stuff of red carpet premiere nightmares. This year, actress Jaime King and fashion model and socialite Nicky Hilton both arrived at a launch party in Los Angeles wearing the same sequin cheetah dress by French Connection. They laughed about their fashion clash, with Hilton tweeting: "My girl @Jaime_King + I committed the ultimate fashion crime. Showing up at the SAME event in the SAME dress."
Television star Brooke Burke was less amused when she found herself wearing an identical animal print mini dress to Carmen Electra in March this year, and tweeted: "Two other women are wearing the same dress I am!!!! How tacky PR!!!"
When the model Sophie Anderton found herself in the awkward situation of wearing an identical outfit to two other people at a London charity auction, she chose to make a hasty exit to change.
Celebrity stylist Eve Collins, whose clients include Rosie Huntington Whitley and Selena Gomez, said: "If one of my clients turned up to a red-carpet event in the same dress as another celebrity, my job could be on the line. To have access to another outfit in 90 minutes through the internet would be a life saver."
Hash Ladha, at Aurora Fashions, said he expects other high street brands to follow suit, as service is key to customers. He said the fastest an internet order has been delivered so far is 18 minutes, to an address in central London.
Jason Nelson, head of marketing and ecommerce at Coast, said: "Customers can order a show-stopping dress at the start of the wedding ceremony and be wearing it by the time photographs are being taken."
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