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  • some women dream about their wedding day. It is the one time you can sartorially put all your eggs in one basket without in any way being accused of overdressing.


    My own Princess/Madame Bovary moment? It was in the 1970s, on the day of the school play: I serendipitously got to wear a dress I had just been bought for my 14th birthday – a white broderie anglaise maxi with a high collar and short sleeves from Laura Ashley – because I was playing the ghost. It was lucky that I got to wear it then, because there weren't many occasions that called for it afterwards. But that is the point of the perfect Princess Moment dress. It is like the bride's dress at the end of a designer's show. You may not be getting married, but yes, it is special. It does require real jewelry and a proper entrance. And no, you can't wear it on public transport.

    To put it another way, you want the image of yourself in it preserved in eternal aspic. As did poor old Emma Bovary, who woke

    up every morning after that fairy-
    tale ball thinking, "A week ago... a fortnight ago... three weeks ago, I was there!"

    Making-an-occasion-of-it
    dressing, being a fairy-tale
    princess for a night, is our sex's birthright, but it does require confidence. The antithesis to an LBD, you can't slink into an event
    in it hoping to blend in, because almost by definition it should elicit comment. A prime example is the incredible pink taffeta and gauze confection from Valentino that Laura Bailey wore to the premiere
    of Les Misérables in 2012. Full length, with a big wedding-cake bow and not a touch of flesh on show, it looked good enough to eat. Ditto the full-length, coconut-ice-pink frock from Alessandra Rich which my friend, stylist Martha Ward,


    “A PRINCESS dress is
    the antithesis to an LBD; by definition it should elicit COMMENT”

    was wearing the other night: all ruffles and trims and lace, with an Edwardian high collar and bib. Honestly, the sorrow I felt at not having a daughter in tow to swoon over them both...

    Other go-to designers for a princess look? Chloé, Jason Wu and Simone Rocha, for all that winter white. For cocktail, I'm thinking a "black swan" dress by Erdem, adorned with marabou and tassel earrings from Oscar de la Renta and very, very red lips.

    But a princess piece doesn't have to be a dress: as I write this, I am looking at a jacket by Oscar de la Renta with delicate pleated layers of light-as-air white chiffon, which will work perfectly with a black pencil skirt or slim pants. I'm also liking the idea of a white cashmere sweater, diamonds at the neck and a cinched-waist skirt, possibly lined in tulle (from Alice + Olivia, perhaps). Oh, and a mad clutch, like the exquisite Swan Vesta one Anya Hindmarch did for SS14.

    All I need now is an event to make my entrance dressed thus. Any invitations? Do pass them on.

    How to do

    the princess moment

    spellbinding gowns and SPARKLING accessories fit for a ball

    ELEGANT GOWNS

    Best worn with confidence and grace.

    ALL WHITE

    Pale separates
    are perfect for winter drama.

    DELICATE DETAILS

    Just add pin-thin heels and a red lip.

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