From Royal Rebel to vision in ivory silk: Liz Jones on Zara's rather surprising dress

By Liz Jones

Royal vision: Zara Phillips dazzled in her silk gown at her wedding to Mike Tindall and has changed since her days when she sported a tongue piercing

There was no tongue stud, thank goodness. No upstaging strumpet of a maid of honour. No horses, ceremonial or otherwise.

But the big shock was that Zara the rebel, the ordinary working girl (she has a job, and a difficult one at that; there is no more dangerous sport than eventing) has finally been tamed.

She didn’t just look pretty and romantic, when we have all become used to her wearing jeans stuffed into kinky boots and a stained rugby shirt covered in green slobber; she was wearing a gown designed by her granny’s favourite designer!

Veiled: Zara Phillips and her father Mark arrive at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh

The ivory silk faille and duchess satin gown was made by Stewart Parvin, the Royal couturier who dresses not only the Queen – she wore his peachy pink coat and matching dress yesterday – but also Princess Anne from his atelier in Motcomb Street, in London’s Belgravia.

Parvin studied fashion at Edinburgh College of Art, then worked for society couturier Donald Campbell.

His trademark is not just simple, elegant bridalwear with few flounces, but an ability to dress rather thick-waisted matrons, covering up the bits of their bodies they’d rather keep hidden.

He has never sent a model down the catwalk wearing a bondage mask, or called a collection Highland Rape. Unlike Alexander McQueen, the late designer whose label made Kate Middleton’s gown for that other Royal Wedding, Parvin is not cerebral or dangerous or cutting edge. And amen to that.

Elegant: Sculptured bodice is giiven relief by the silk tulle concertinaed shoulder straps. Mike Tindall and Zara Phillips leave the church after their marriage

Although Kate Middleton’s wedding gown, by McQueen’s successor Sarah Burton, was dramatic, with its teardrop train, this dress, which cost about £7,000, a fifth of the price of a McQueen, is far softer and prettier.

A corset gave Zara a small waist, while her rather wide shoulders were softened by the almost sheer silk tulle concertina straps with raw edges; I’m so glad she didn’t go strapless, a style that can make athletes look a little hulking.

Because this ceremony was not in a cathedral, Zara was able to expose those rather wonderful arms, honed by all those warm-blooded steeds

The cathedral-length veil (it falls beyond the gown) was a little too bouffant, but otherwise everything was perfect.

Because this ceremony was not in a cathedral, Zara was able to expose those rather wonderful arms, honed by all those warm-blooded steeds.

Her blonde hair was in a sleek knot, and she was wearing her mother’s Greek tiara (a wedding gift to Queen Elizabeth from her mother-in-law, it was given to Princess Anne in 1972; I’m wondering whether the Greeks want it back), and carrying a rather large bouquet by London florist Paul Thomas.

Romantic: Veil and tiara complement Zara's sleek blonde hair

All in all, I’m rather glad Zara eschewed going ‘designer’, having decided to leave promoting the British fashion business to Kate, who at the moment doesn’t have much else to do. I like that Zara is going straight back into training, isn’t changing her name (it would confuse the horses), and surely won’t contemplate getting pregnant until after the Olympics.

This out-of-character, rather safe choice of couturier for her big day (I’d sort of imagined her in a draped, dramatic, over-the-top gown by Vivienne Westwood, with a tartan sash) shows a new air of maturity and confidence.

Finally, she has decided that being part of the Royal Family is not so bad, after all.

Parvin’s order book will now be full for months if not years to come – American fashion websites are already going crazy, while I’ve just been called by a buyer from Barney’s, desperate for Parvin’s mobile number – not just because of this latest Royal patronage, but because, best of all, his dress did not upstage the bride . . .

Now for my verdict on the guests...

Beatrice (left) looks relatively sane in this turquoise outfit by Angela Kelly. Meanwhile, the Countess of Wessex (right) has become a bit of a fashion plate, outclassing Helen Windsor. I love the soft pale pink, but would have swapped nude platforms for something a bit more vibrant

The Duchess of Cambridge (left) looked fabulous in a cream coat we've seen before. I don't think this outfit suits the Princess Royal's (right) personality; the jacket is too busy and curtain like, the concertina skirt too flighty. and where on earth is the hat, in among all that hair?

Liz Jones's verdict: Camilla, with Charles, predictably chose pale pistachio Anna Valentine, with very pretty pleating

That hat could pick up Radio One, Bea!

Kate's (left) floral hat is wonderfully over the top. Only a beauty can pull this off. Eugenie (right) had a lovely mix of brown and cream - but this hat could put out an eye

Beatrice (left), still smarting from the reception of her 'giant pretzel' Philip Treacy creation in April, reminds me only of a satellite dish. The Countess of Wessex (right) has bloomed into a goddess: this hat is splendid

Camilla's (left) hat is like an explosion of gypsophila, the sort of flower sold in garages. The cloche shape has always been the Queen's (right) favourite: she knows the crowd wants to see her face, so a floppy hat won't do

Olympic skeleton skier Amy Williams (left) wore a ruched dress. LIZ JONES VERDICT: She should know that the rule with nude is not to wear it top to toe, otherwise you look, well, nude! This Burberry dress is a touch too short, too. Coronation Street actress Katherine Kelly (right) - a school friend of the groom - was a ray of sunshine in her dramatic orange hat and matching clutch bag, teamed with a floaty pink dress. LIZ JONES VERDICT: This pale hanky dress is in a very 'now' length, midi, and while I like the orange picture hat, I think bare shoulders in church is a little disrespectful. Here again are the nude shoes, this time in a slingback

TV presenter Natalie Pinkham (left) stood out in a red, backless dress. LIZ JONES VERDICT: Oh Natalie, a prime example of lamb dressed as mutton. Mumsy dress, granny hat and those ubiquitous nude courts. Kirsty Gallagher (right) chose a brightly patterned dress by Joseph finishing just above the knee. LIZ JONES VERDICT: The patterned tea dress has a sexy shape but the nude (again!) accessories don't really go, while the hat is simply too small

Motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart, with wife Helen hidden under her hat, not only wore a kilt in Stewart Black tartan, but matching tie and socks too. LIZ JONES VERDICT: Oh dear, Helen. Beige, boxy linen. And why carry a blanket, and a clashing bag? What can I say? The cloche hat is a pretty pale pink

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