11 March 2011

Flashback Friday: Camilla's Transformation

Much like Mette-Marit's commoner-to-Princess transformation, this week we deal with another bride many found unsuitable, and how she began to make a royal name for herself.
For the record, glamour was always in the realm of possibility for Camilla here:
But she's a lady that genuinely prefers the garden or the stable to the ballroom, and that just made it all the easier for us to form the frumpy picture that was once our only impression of Camilla Parker Bowles. Truthfully, in the days of Diana, it wouldn't have mattered if Camilla gussied herself up every night. The media had a story to tell, and attractive pictures of her had no place in the battle of the beautiful and beloved Princess vs. the frumpy and unappealing mistress.
Even after Diana's death, after the storm had calmed and Prince Charles's office had begun their campaign for public Camilla acceptance, her appearances by Charles's side were rough around the edges. Finding just the right angle for her look was proving difficult.
The major turning point? The wedding. Camilla's two bridal ensembles made #3 on my list of Top 10 Royal Wedding Gowns. After so many years of her looks being the butt of the joke, there was audible shock that she could turn up looking...well, good.
She kept it up after the wedding, too. With the help of a dresser, makeup artists, hairdressers and colorists, rumored teeth whitening (and whispers of other cosmetic procedures), and couture by designers like Robinson Valentine, Camilla turned from a dirt-caked country lady to a Duchess that packed a 40-outfit wardrobe for her 2005 trip to the United States.

She opted for simple day wear in well-cut patterns and lines designed to structure and flatter her figure, rather than hide it. Major hats factored in as well: maybe it's a result of carrying that huge trademark hairdo for so many decades, but this is a lady that can carry off some wild millinery.
In the evenings, she took the same flattering day principles and added in lush fabrics like velvet and intriguing designers like Vivienne Westwood.
And of course it doesn't hurt at all that she turns out to be a woman that can handle some substantial bling.
Sure enough, after the wedding, articles began to appear touting the Duchess's enviable style. This once-frumpy lady hit all the right notes: not trying too hard, but looking good enough to play her royal part. And I'll liken her to Mette-Marit again here: she also proved to be a cheery worker, and a good counterpart to her husband (who seems to be happier than ever). Her strategy worked on me, I've become a Camilla fan (as well as a Diana fan, for the record - these things do not have to be mutually exclusive). But then again, any lady that can have her looks so mercilessly made fun of for so many years and still keep her smile on and her sense of humor in tact is bound to get a vote from me some day.

These days, I've noticed a bit of a regression in Camilla's style. She still turns out the polished appearances, but she's repeating outfits a lot more than she used to, and she has more days when her look isn't entirely flattering. So I wonder: is she more comfortable now? More secure in returning to her solid but unsophisticated sartorial roots? Or, having proven that she can bring the glamour when she needs to, is she finding that she'll win more people over by a return to her down-to-earth ways and wardrobe?
What do you make of Camilla's transformation?

Photos: Belga/Getty Images