Last Sunday we were given an envy-inducing glimpse into how the other half live when the most indulgently glamorous awards ceremony of them all took place, followed by all those glitzy showbiz after-parties. I spent the morning after the night before feverishly poring over the news coverage online – the tear-filled speeches, the gossip, and most crucially, what the stars were wearing!
I’m sure I’m not the only girl to get all obsessed over those fabulous dresses gracing the red carpet… I fell in love with media darling of the moment Lupita Nyong’o’s dreamy, baby blue ball-gown (reminiscent of Disney’s Cinderella dress), and just adored Kate Hudson’s understated elegance, but for me the Oscar for best-dressed went to Sandra Bullock – her sweeping, midnight blue silk gown simply exuded Hollywood sophistication. And I salivated over the actors in their tuxes too – Zac Efron in particular looked pretty damn fine. Jared Leto’s standout red bowtie was a little too quirky for me, while Jennifer Lawrence’s glaring red number made me want to put on sunglasses… Personally, I prefer it when Hollywood stars drip old-school, classic glamour – I like to get lost in the sparkling fairy-tale of it all, the dream of being escorted to a glittering event on the arm of a tuxedo-clad charmer whilst clad in jewels and a jaw-dropping gown.
At Mills & Boon, transporting readers from their everyday reality into dazzling, escapist fantasy is one of the things we do best! And fashion, and the characters’ wardrobe, is essential to the creation of a vividly imagined romantic world. Would a Regency gentleman be the same without his tight breeches and stiff cravat? Or a billionaire without a sharp designer suit straining over those hot muscles underneath? Or a sexy surgeon without his stethoscope and scrubs?
One of the really fun aspects of my job is briefing the art for the book covers, and often, the clothing used in the cover photos reflects something important about a character, or conveys a strong story theme. In two wonderful Mills & Boon romances out in April, the outfits take centre-stage. Louise Allen’s ‘Unlacing Lady Thea’ (April, Historical) follows the story of a fashion obsessed, Regency shopaholic. The cover shows this elegant lady being unlaced from her gorgeous corset – symbolic of her sexual awakening over the course of the story. The cover of ‘200 Harley Street: Surgeon in a Tux’ (April, Medical) portrays the hero in his signature tuxedo and shows that the life of a dishy doctor can be glamorous too – if he happens to work on Harley Street! Of all Mills & Boon series, Modern and Historical are the most likely to encapsulate that ‘fantasy’ element in the covers. Modern draws on red carpet fashion for inspiration, while Historical is perhaps the most challenging to brief – as well as being breathtakingly beautiful the costumes must accurately reflect the period. For both series, the attire of the cover stars must be stunning enough to make you catch your breath.
There’s so much more to a Mills & Boon romance of course than glittering fantasy – after all, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and the heart of a romance is that depth of emotion between two strong, complex characters that we can sympathise with, regardless of the package they come in! But what they like to wear can be a route into their story, and the beginning of an understanding for readers about who they really are…
So… what were your favourite red-carpet dresses at the Oscars? And does fashion really matter in the world of a Mills & Boon romance? Let me know what you think…!