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Memories of a dressing down

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Memories of a dressing down

Sami Muirhead pays homage to a celebrated fashion garment forever linked to some home truths about her early style faux pas.

The joy of a dress is not to be underestimated. It is the 50th anniversary of the wrap dress, first designed by living legend and real-life princess, Diane von Furstenberg.

The experts say a wrap dress is kind of like mashed potato: it never lets you down. Well, what they say is that it is the most flattering of all cuts as the V-neck is kind to the bustline, while the wrap-around waist and A-line skirt slims over the hips.

When I read that von Furstenberg’s design was turning 50 this year, I had quite a bad memory come flooding back. Fifteen years ago, the Trinny and Susannah media personality duo rolled into Carindale Shopping Centre to offer advice and film it for their fashion show What Not To Wear.

I was sent to interview the intimidating British superstars. They dragged me to the car park so they could have a drag of their ciggies and they began to tell me I was wearing a hideous sack of a blouse that did not show off my assets, while they pawed at my waist and badly cut clothing. I took up smoking in that very second because I did not know what else to do.

They told me my synthetic and cheap pants were rubbish and I should only wear wrap dresses. It was said in the way I would declare it is bedtime for my kids: not to be debated. Then they went back to smoking and looking impeccable in the car park as thousands of fans waited to see them.

I never took their advice but perhaps to celebrate the von Furstenberg milestone, I will buy a wrap dress. She is the daughter of a holocaust survivor; she was taught that fear is never an option. The Belgian-born designer began crafting clothes in 1970 and has not looked back. Her legendary garment was seen as a symbol of liberation, thanks to its inclusive fit and flattering style.

Some dresses have made their stamp on history. Coco Chanel revolutionised fashion with her ‘little black dress’. And when it comes to movies, who can forget Julia Roberts’ red gown in Pretty Woman? Or Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy birthday, Mr President” dress. Some of us are of an age to remember the pop-culture bombshell when Bjork wore a dress that looked like a swan with thousands of feathers was draped around her neck.

Dresses are more than just fabric. They help us tell our tales. And that is a wrap.

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Sami Muirhead is a radio announcer, blogger and commentator. For more from Sami tune into Mix FM.

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