Pity poor Camilla. Not only did the pope schedule his funeral for her wedding day, forcing her to change the date after a 36-year courtship, but her prospective mother-in-law refused to come to the ceremony, deigning to attend only what was billed as a religious blessing, wherein Charles and Camilla had to stand in front of a whole bunch of people and acknowledge “manifold sins and wickedness.” Throughout, queenie wore a nauseated expression on her face for which the expression “pickle-puss” was invented.
When the big day finally, finally arrived, Camilla managed to acquit herself, sartorially at least, quite adequately. (And may we pause and take a second here to say we’ve had more than enough of late night talk show hosts, no beauties themselves, slagging on Camilla’s appearance? This is what a normal woman looks like, boys. Get over it. Look in the mirror.)
We were especially happy to see that the bride topped off her sky-blue and gold ensemble (courtesy, according to CNN of “a local-based couturier in Kensington”) with a truly nutty chapeau by madcap milliner Philip Treacy, a guy you usually associate with wacky chicks like ur-fashionista Isabella Blow rather than a fluffy-haired, horse-loving matron.
And it was heart-warming to see the dim Charles, always so lost and sad-looking, finally marrying someone he actually liked, rather than a bulimic teenager forced down his weak throat by an antediluvian social system that should have disappeared by around, say, 1789.
So Charles was happy, Camilla was happy—but oh, those tour buses shuttling RichieRiches from the church to the reception, where, according to Fox news, they’d be treated to “a finger food event”—could they have made anyone happy? It was all a long way from the marriage of that other palace home-wrecker, Mrs. Wallis Simpson, when her naughty affair with Edward the Eighth threatened to bring down the monarchy (too bad it didn’t).
The Duchess of Windsor would have never worn a Treacy hat. For her nuptials, she donned a constipated Mainbocher sky-blue suit (do we sense a pattern?). Wallis, by all accounts a real harridan, lived by a million inane rules, one of which was that you should always polish the soles of your shoes. (Bet she wasn’t the one doing the polishing.)
Oh well, maybe Wallis just didn’t understand about the British tradition of funny hats. (She was, after all, an American, having dumped her tubercular first husband and fat-cat second by the time she hooked up with Edward.)
In addition to a marked affection for silly headgear, the English indulge in other fashion peculiarities. The days when Mayfair was full of tweedy, Barbour-jacketed, Wellington-booted Miss Marples, up from the country for an afternoon of shopping are sadly over, but English girls, no matter how rich, still evince a penchant for a rather raffish rattiness. Despite the looming presence of every international boutique on Sloane and/or Bond Streets—predictable Pradas; claustrophobic Chanels; dogmatic Diors—one never gets the feeling that the newest, late-model Vuitton causes the same frission of desire in the drawing rooms of Ladbroke Grove as it might on Madison Avenue.
Instead, the Brits excel at the kind of consciously unconscious mixing of high and low, new and old, that Kate Moss is so famous for, though most Londoners have to make this work without Moss’s trademark cascade of art deco diamonds. The results are often rather more offhand than even Moss would dare: pilly old sweaters (a century-old staple, hanging on despite the fairly recent introduction of universal central heating) pulled over a cheap High Street skirt with maybe a pair of expensive but scuffed upmarket boots, and of course, to top it all off, an Eliza Doolittle-worthy hat.