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House of Versace poised to dress the royal bride on big day

Feb 11 2005

Western Mail


The Western Mail's WM Editor Sarah Drew Jones says Camilla will follow Zeta

SHE'S at her happiest wearing jodhpurs and a red riding jacket while out with the Beaufort Hunt, but Camilla Parker Bowles has had to polish up her wardrobe since her relationship with the future King became public knowledge.

After all, Diana, Princess of Wales, was a hard act to follow, and Camilla's had to move up a gear in the past few years, gradually ditching the traditional clothes of an aristocratic English country woman of a certain age (tweeds, Barbours, headscarves, flat driving shoes, and frumpy floral sundresses) for a closet packed with couture, hats from Philip Treacy and jewellery worth thousands.

Now though, with a wedding gown to plan for April 8, she must be wondering where to turn.

As David Emanuel, the cocreator of the Princess of Wales' bridal gown, agreed yesterday, Camilla "doesn't have a great dress sense, isn't interested in clothes and doesn't seem to have any one favourite designer."

So who will design the dress for her long-awaited big day? Though a British designer might seem an obvious choice, there's evidence that Camilla may be already looking further afield. Italy to be exact, and the House of Versace.

The first time Camilla appeared at Prince Charles's side at a semi-official function - a Prince's Trust dinner in June 2000 - she chose to face the world's media wearing a pretty pale pink floor-length gown ... created not by a UK name but Versace, the favourite of the Hollywood A-list

... and Wales' own showbiz royalty, Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Like Zeta, who chooses Versace gowns for nearly every red carpet appearance, Camilla fell in love with the plunging necklines, hidden-corsetry and clever tailoring cut to flatter the female shape. Versace, after all, is the label "real" women with curves turn to for help, when nothing less than a show-stopping outfit will do.

A Versace gown is not out of the question for Camilla's wedding day, especially if Donatella Versace (whom Camilla has met several times and gets on well with) could agree to tone down her signature glitz and produce a gown fit for a civil ceremony, albeit a royal one.

But could Camilla secretly be a much bigger fashion fan than Mr Emanuel, and the rest of the nation, suspect?

She's been photographed wearing gowns by such fashion legends as Valentino and Oscar de la Renta, which not only cost several thousand pounds but which grace the world's most style-savvy stars, from Julia Roberts to Sarah Jessica Parker. Either Mrs Parker-Bowles aspires to fashion greatness, or she's being advised by someone very much in the know.


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