Royal bride wears the crown of style, for a day

Parker Bowles fashions a classic look for wedding

April 10, 2005|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Camilla Parker Bowles married her longtime love Prince Charles yesterday in a regal affair, despite a veil of distaste that shrouded the union.

And though some still might question the propriety of the marriage, it's doubtful that anyone will have much to criticize about the new Duchess of Cornwall's choice of wedding attire.

Not generally known for her fashion sense, Parker Bowles, 57, faced international scrutiny yesterday and pulled off a tasteful, appropriate and elegant bridal look.

At the morning's low-key civil ceremony, she wore a simple cream-colored dress and jacket, with a matching hat. The shift was business length, with a dainty scalloping at the hem, and the jacket was pretty in its plainness.

For the more formal church blessing at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle - in front of 800 guests and countless television cameras - she changed into a silver celadon-colored long dress and embellished coat with a modest train.

The coat, clearly the affair's showpiece, had just enough gilded embroidery on the belled sleeves and bodice to be appropriately glitzy, but not gauche.

"She was in the most difficult position. Everyone was trying to criticize her," said Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. "I think she went classic; she went simple; she went elegant; she went appropriate. I think that she hit kind of the right balance, because there was so much pressure on her, being the next wife after Diana."

Princess Diana, Prince Charles' late wife, was beloved in England and around the world for her charisma, beauty and style.

Parker Bowles, on the other hand, has been universally slammed for fashion choices.

"Camilla's always been known for a very carefree kind of dressing," said Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor at Harper's Bazaar magazine. "She comes from a section of the English country set, which has no attention to clothing. It's very much a hunting, shooting, fishing, riding kind of community."

When Parker Bowles once tried to wear a pale pink Versace creation, "she herself admitted that she had tried a bit too hard and, quite frankly, was more at home in her country tweed and wellies," said wedding expert Joyce Scardina Becker of San Francisco-based Events of Distinction.

For her wedding to Prince Charles, however, she took a safer fashion route.

She chose as her dress designers the Kensington-based team of Antonia Robinson and Anna Valentine, considered the "smart label of choice for the younger country set," Graham said. Their classic, couture designs are often likened to those of Vera Wang.

And for her glamorous head covering - an absolute must at an aristocrat's wedding, Graham said - Parker Bowles selected England's hottest milliner, Philip Treacy, who is known for his extraordinary, often feathery creations.

Some television commentators knocked the blond-hued straw-like headpiece, but being a style-setter often means doing something unexpected.

And, after all, however criticized, it was her wedding to the love of her life. Unlike other brides, she simply could not do the long white gown with a cascading veil and fields of flowers and doves.

At least her hat could stand out.

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