Frocks and Fairytales by Fashion Stylist Esma Versace

 I have to admit I’ve been completely caught up in the fairytale and glamour of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin’s wedding.

The sumptuous setting, the show of wealth, the beautiful A-list celebrities, the display of love – I’ve been hooked.  I’ve fallen for the fashion fairytale and have developed a serious case of fashion envy.

Amal Alamuddin’s wardrobe for the 3-day event is the stuff of style dreams. The Oscar de la Renta wedding gown, the red and black Alexander McQueen worn at the pre-wedding dinner, the gasp-evoking Giambattista Valli floral couture dress, the black and white Dolce and Gabbana sundress and the black and white palazzo pant ensemble topped off with that amazing Stella McCartney hat.


Her shining beauty coupled with a fairytale wardrobe has created a fashion-fantasy envied and admired by women around the world.  Lucky girl.

But now that Mr Clooney’s nuptial festivities are over (less face it for most girl’s it’s all about HIM) and we go back to our ‘normal’ lives, I’m stuck in a fashion-moment – Amal’s Giambattista Valli couture dress.  I ask myself two questions, what is it about a frock that makes for a fairytale and can a normal girl have her ‘dream dress’ moment (aside from our wedding dress).

To answer these questions I need to ask myself a few more.  Does the dress have to be designed by a world-famous fashion designer?  Does it have to cost thousands of dollars?  Can only a celebrity wear such a dress?  Can it only be worn on a red carpet or in lavish, wealth-strewn surrounds?

My stylist brain screams the answer – a resounding ‘no’.  Of course, wealth and celebrity are usually precursors to fairytale dresses and red-carpet moments but for everyday girls like you and me, it doesn’t take loads or money or fame to wear a dream dress.  A quote by the famous Vogue editor, Edna W. Chase says it best “fashion can be bought, style one must posses”.

It’s true.  Amal Alamuddin has access to wealth, couture designers and the best that money can buy, but that doesn’t mean she’s worthy of ‘style icon’ status.  What we witnessed over the last week that Amal possesses real style and essential ingredients that we can ALL emulate without the wealth and fame – style, attitude and confidence.  She wore it well, and so can you and I.

When you wear a dress that flatters your style and that you feel special in, it changes the way you move and gives you poise and elegance.

Proof in point – some years ago I was attending a charity ball and I had the most beautiful red gown made (by a very talented couture-trained dressmaker).  It was a copy of a Valentino and it fitted to perfection.  I felt so beautiful in the dress and it obviously showed and at the ball a friend said to me “you look like a movie star”. There was my red-carpet ‘dream dress’ moment.

When you wear a dress that makes you feel beautiful and confident that’s your dream moment.  When you feel like you can conquer the world, seduce your lover or walk your own red carpet moment, that’s when your dress has created your special moment in time.

I know I can never wear THAT Giambattista Valli couture dress and I’ll never marry a movie-star, but all I need is a copy of red Valentino dress and I have my own movie-star moment at home in my own closet.


Last week I showed iconic dresses that created history-making moments in time.  This week I feature a few of my favourite dream dresses.  What are yours?

Firstly, Sarah Jessica Parker in Chanel couture at 2003 Emmy Awards.  Complete with diamond Chanel camellia accessories it was a pink cotton-candy dream.


As one of history’s most stylish women, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had many a fairytale moment.  One of her most famous is the Valentino mint off-the-shoulder dress that she wore for an official visit to Cambodia in 1967.  Jennifer Lopez re-created the moment in 2003 at the Academy Awards.


There is one ‘dream dress’ that every stylish woman yearns for – a red Valentino.  Valentino Garavani created the most glamourous, elegant and drool-worthy gowns and dresses for the rich and famous for 50 years until his retirement in 2008.  His signature red dress was, and still remains, on the ‘dream list’ for stylish women around the world.


Countless fairytale-moments were created for film and real-life by famous Hollywood designer, Edith Head.  Perhaps the most recognized are two dresses – the famous blue and white dresses created for Grace Kelly in the 1955 film To Catch a Thief.  Her granddaughter, Charlotte Casighari, paid homage to her Grandmother when she wore an amalgamation of the two dresses at an official dinner for her Uncle Albert’s wedding in 2011 created by Giambattista Valli.


Another revered Hollywood designer was Helen Rose who created the famous white dress for Elizabeth Taylor for the 1958 movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  Fifty-six years later it’s still a dress that all women wish they could wear as well as Liz.


Another Valentino but this time black velvet worn by Julia Roberts at the 2001 Academy Awards.  If you know fashion, then you’ll know that this dress was just one from Valentino’s simply spectacular Fall/Winter couture collection from 1992.  It remains one of my favourite collections of all time.


Do you remember when you first saw the now famous green silk dress that Kiera Knightley wore in Atonement?  I do.  I gasped with the beauty and colour and Kiera wore it so very well.


Design team Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa create the most beautiful red-carpet gowns.  Celebrating 10 years in the business, a Marchesa dress is an A-lister’s ‘go-to’ for red carpets events.


Every collection that Lebanese designer Elie Saab creates literally makes me gasp.  Saab’s feminine and romantic gowns are the stuff of dreams.



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