2011: The year of the bridesmaid? Mail Online // 23 May 2011

My piece for Daily Mail Online, NYC:

It’s never good to be on the receiving end of the euphemism ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’. But 2011, it seems, is shaping up to be the year of the second lady. It’s time, finally, for the bridesmaid to shine.

It all started with the unexpected eclipse of the Duchess of Cambridge by her younger sister, the holder of that ass, Pippa Middleton.

Not only did this maid of honour steal the show with her composed poise, stunning dress, svelte figure and apparent perfection in bridesmaid duties, but her pert rear has garnered a global online fanbase with its own Facebook page, website and Twitter account. Not bad for a supporting role.

Pippa Middleton
Pippa Middleton

Outshining the bride: All eyes were on Pippa Middleton when her sister Catherine married Prince William at Westminster Abbey last month

The 27-year-old is now not only the apple of the paparazzi’s eyes, having recently been snapped in Madrid in the company of ex-boyfriend George Percy, but her status as England’s most famous bridesmaid is helping to boost the sales of everything from fake tans to bottom-lifts – and she is a hotly-tipped contender for the FHM’s Sexiest Woman 2012 award.

Mr Percy, 26, one of Miss Middleton’s old flames, is one of Britain’s richest men – they frolicked together in Madrid’s Retiro Park just days ago, giving the now-world-famous Berkshire girl a well-earned break from pomp and ceremony.

But he’s not alone in his apparent admiration of Miss Middleton. Prince Harry looked more than happy standing next to the brunette beauty on the day of the wedding. Could it be that being a bridesmaid is once again the way to ensnare an eligible bachelor?

‘Finally, a bridesmaid who looked brilliant in her own right. Pippa proved that you can have a good time and be the centre of attention’

Emma Lemont, 29, a fashion assistant from London has been a bridesmaid five times – in churches as spread apart as London, New York and Sydney. She told MailOnline that seeing Pippa Middleton steal the show has given the job a boost.

She said: ‘Finally, a bridesmaid who looked brilliant in her own right. Pippa reminded me that you can have a good time and be the centre of attention as a bridesmaid.

‘All the hard work pays off and it’s always fun in the end – especially if you win some admirers.’

With all the Middleton furore, it’s perhaps not surprising that attention has now turned to the wedding of the other Kate M – supermodel Kate Moss, whose nuptials are set for July 2.

Kate Moss
Naomi Campbell

Supporting role: Kate Moss (left) is said to have asked fellow supermodel Naomi Campbell (right) to be her maid of honour when she marries Jamie Hince in July

Miss Moss will marry rocker beau Jamie Hince and, with their glittering cast of celebrity friends, musicians, models and designers, the celebration is set to again capture the imaginations of more than just their private congregation.

Speculation over who the 37-year-old will choose as her bridesmaid has turned to  fellow supermodel and friend since their teens, Naomi Campbell, who will not confirm whether she will be part of the bridal party.

Stealing the limelight: Keira Knightley was bridesmaid at her brother' wedding last monthStealing the limelight: Keira Knightley said she was ‘the worst bridesmaid ever’ at her brother’ wedding last month

‘Now that would be telling,’ she said coyly.

Stamina will certainly help Miss Moss’ right-hand-woman, as the celebrations will reportedly take the shape of a mini-festival, lasting for three days at the couple’s Oxfordshire home.

Either way, whoever the lucky lady turns out to be, her duties are many – and as any bridesmaid can tell you, it involves more than looking pretty and holding the train on the special day.

As the new Hollywood blockbuster, Bridesmaids, shows, a maid of honour’s role can be daunting and, at times, thankless.

This chick flick with a difference is produced by maestro Judd Apatow, responsible for the likes of The 40 Year Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Superbad all reaching cult status in the ‘dude comedy’ genre.

Grossing $25 million in its first weekend, the movie is hailed as a female version of The Hangover – a laugh-a-minute look at the not-so-glamorous sides of maid of honour traditions.

Down-on-her-luck Annie, a thirty-something singleton, is having a bad year. Thanks to the GFC, she lost her bakery and her boyfriend and things aren’t improved when lifelong best friend, Lillian, announces her engagement.

Determined to make her best friend’s hen do, wedding dress shopping and big day a success, Annie embarks on her bridesmaid duties – and a series of hilarious mishaps and misfortunes.

It’s been called ‘one of the greatest comedies of all time’, with the mostly female cast propelling the figure of bridesmaid out of the shadows and into the limelight – and dispelling any romantic visions of the dubious honour of Chief Bridesmaid along the way.

And it was only a matter of time for fashion to catch on to the bridesmaid trend. Brides, it seems, can no longer get away with dressing their maids in frocks from hell.

There was always going to be a race to sell replicas of the Duchess of Cambridge’s gown, but the sartorial fever over her sister’s dress has seen online dress shops go into overdrive.

BridesmaidsChick flick with a difference: Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig (third left) as Annie, who is named maid-of-honour for her best friend’s wedding

Imitation Pippa gowns are retailing for as little as $295, after the silk and lace design by Alexander McQueen creative, Sarah Burton, became an instant hit at the Royal Wedding on April 29.

And while we’re sure that Miss Middleton will want to hang on to what must be one of the only flattering bridesmaid’s dresses in existence, other, less lucky girls may want to turn to new fashion initiative, NewlyMaid, which turns bridesmaids dresses into hot fashion property after their big day.

NewlyMaid works with clothing charity Clothes4Souls and eco-label Repreve to transform even the most embarrassing bridesmaid frock into an altogether more wearable Little Black Dress.

It offers customers who donate their unwanted bridesmaid dresses a 30 to 50 per cent discount on useful LBDs. 27 Dresses’ Katherine Heigl would surely be a fan.

So, from gorgeous maid of honour role models to Hollywood blockbusters, it seems the hard task of being a bridesmaid is, at last, as fashionable as ever.

Now just make sure to catch the bouquet.


I grew up with Kate Middleton, Mamamia // 20 April 2011

My piece on today’s Mamamia…

I grew up with Kate Middleton, what’s your celebrity claim to fame?

It’s just your average little village in your average country valley in your average chunk of English commuter belt. It’s got a butcher, a pub, a surgery, a council estate, a load of twee cottages and a beautiful tree-lined avenue called, um, The Avenue. Oh, and it happens to count a future princess as a resident.

Welcome to Chapel Row, Bucklebury. My family home until precisely seven months before the royal engagement was announced. Ouch – how’s that for timing, no sooner had my parents bubble-wrapped the last Beatrix Potter figurine, when house prices started nudging up as a national, no, a global spotlight turned onto little old Bucklebury. To add insult to injury, the Daily Mail chose to run a feature about property in the area using OUR cottage above all others as a shining example of what’s on the market, with none other than Kate and Carole, all smiles, superimposed onto our front lawn! Oh the unwelcome muddle of pride and pain!

We walked past her – always perky and pretty – on muddy lanes in our wellies. We sat next to her after she bustled into the Remembrance Day church service a full five minutes late (tut, tut). We queued behind her as she paid for for milk at the  supermarket: it may not sound like it, but the truth is we got used to seeing our famous Kate around. But when Will came to visit – that’s when tongue-wagging went stellar and village knees went all a-quiver. I remember my mum breathlessly rushing in from the post office and, barely able to get the words out, telling me how she’d JUST. SEEN. PRINCE. WILLIAM.

But just because we’re no longer in prime situ doesn’t mean we aren’t as wrapped up in wedding day hysteria as the next kind-of-once-sort-of-knew-Kate-a-bit-ish family. Oh, no. Thanks to the all-encompassing gossip network that pervades Berkshire countryside like an overzealous boxing day fox hunt, yes, even in Sydney, I am exposed to fallout from The Wedding Guestlist. And the stories of my ex-neighbours knock the socks off my claim to fame.

Half the village will be inside Westminster Cathedral on the 29th. I happen to know that in addition to Ryan the postman (undisputed heavyweight king of Bucklebury gossip), Martin the butcher and Hash the Spar shop proprietor, a host of other highly reputable local service delivery agents and family friends are all invited to THE big day. From stories of frantic dieting to frenzied frock buying, the local grapevine, it’s fair to say, is going into meltdown.

Ryan and co. – who get to see the Queen, witness “I do” and sing along to the hymns for heaven’s sakes! – leave us mere mortals to get our wedding fix via TV and twitter, along with the rest of the predicted 3 billion global congregation. Gulp, that’s going to be a long walk up the aisle for our Kate.

Lucky invitees will dine out on the juices of the matrimonial experience forever more.

So, my miniscule smidgen of a connection with future Princesses aside, what are your brushes with celebrity?

Calling all claims to fame – did you share a slurpee with Kylie, have you danced the conga with a President, is your yearbook signed by a future Spicegirl? Hell, are YOU also invited to the wedding of the decade?