2014 > OCTOBER 22 | MALIBU | CAFE HABANA
2014 > OCTOBER 24 | LONDON | ARRIVAL
2014 > OCTOBER 26 | DEPARTING FOR DANESFIELD HOUSE
ADVERTISEMENTS > OTHER CAMPAIGNS > FILM LAND 2014
MISC ALBUMS > HOMES – MARITAL HOME – SONNING, BERKSHIRE
MISC – AMAL > PHOTOSHOOT | PHOTOGRAPHER: LORENTZ GULLACHSEN
MAGAZINES > V – Z > VOGUE – OCT 2014
AMAL > 2014 OCTOBER 16 | LONDON | ARRIVAL
AMAL > 2014 OCTOBER 16 | ATHENS GREECE | HOTEL GRANDE BRETAGNE
AMAL > 2014 OCTOBER 15 | ATHENS GREECE | VILLA OF MRS DANIOLOU
AMAL > 2014 OCTOBER 15 | ATHENS GREECE | HOTEL PLAZA
AMAL > 2014 OCTOBER 15 | ATHENS GREECE
AMAL > 2014 OCTOBER 14 | ATHENS GREECE
AMAL > 2014 OCTOBER 13 | LONDON | DEPARTURE
AMAL > 2014 OCTOBER 13 | ATHENS GREECE | ARRIVAL
CHLOE MALLEANNIE LEIBOVITZ
For human-rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin’s fairy-tale wedding to George Clooney, only a dream dress would do. Enter Oscar de la Renta.
“He is the man every woman wants to hug!” Amal Alamuddin says happily. Surprisingly, the British-Lebanese human-rights barrister is not referring to George Clooney, her groom come September, but rather to the equally debonair Oscar de la Renta, who is designing her wedding dress. “George and I wanted a wedding that was romantic and elegant, and I can’t imagine anyone more able than Oscar to capture this mood in a dress,” she says. “Meeting him made the design process all the more magical, as he is so warm and such a gentleman.”
Indeed, on a warm Wednesday in late July, 36-year-old Alamuddin gambols blithely into de la Renta’s Bryant Park offices on towering wedge sandals, eager to greet the designer with a double kiss. She wears a floral-printed day dress, also by de la Renta. A sand suede Balenciaga motorcycle bag dangles from her forearm. Her long jet-black hair is blown out with just enough volume around the temples to softly frame her minimally made-up face. Following her into the showroom are her mother, Baria, who lives in London, and sister, Tala, who has come all the way from Singapore for the fitting.
Soon after the trio arrives, Alamuddin is whisked away into a changing room to be outfitted in the almighty dress for her final appointment with de la Renta and head tailor Raffaele Ilardo, armed with a pincushion and a tape measure draped around his neck. Several minutes later, she emerges with a swishing sound. The dress is an exquisite mille-feuille of ivory tulle appliquéd with fourteen yards of Chantilly lace, its bodice hand embroidered with beading and crystals.
“Be careful, guys,” de la Renta calls to Ilardo and his team. “Don’t let the dress touch the floor!” Like a conductor Ilardo raises and then dips one hand, and in unison he and two helpers bend and pick up the skirt of the dress in one coordinated swoop. As Alamuddin arrives in front of her audience, Tala’s eyes well up immediately. Her mother’s eventually do as well, though she is temporarily distracted by the desire to add additional layers of tulle to the skirt. This is voted against by committee, one reason being that the role of train shepherd is already deemed too much for Tala’s twelve-year-old daughter, Mia, who is Alamuddin’s only flower girl. “That won’t be enough,” says de la Renta confidently. “You will need a grown-up to help as well—your sister.” He nods toward Tala, who is happy to take on the task.
Alamuddin twirls slowly toward the designer, careful not to upset the lower layers of the skirt. She, too, wipes the corner of her espresso-brown eyes as she stands resplendent in her dress. It is agreed by all that de la Renta was right about everything: the cut, the volume, the minimal beading, the subtle ivory hue. He smiles, satisfied. “Look at the color of the paper on the floor; that color is true white, so you can see the dress is cream.” Indeed, the floor has been carefully covered with crisp white butcher paper to protect the pristine hem.
“It’s the most important dress in the life of a woman,” de la Renta says. “Any girl from any walk of life dreams of that special dress, and I try to make that dream a reality for her. Amal and I looked at a lot of evening dresses and wedding dresses together, and we discussed what she liked. That gave me the idea of what she wanted.” The Oxford and New York University law school graduate’s daunting legal résumé—she has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in his fight against extradition, as well as Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and acts as counsel to the United Nations’ inquiry into drone strikes—does not preclude her from having strong opinions on fashion and the minute details of her wedding day. As Ilardo pins a fold of lace at the small of her back, she asks de la Renta whether he thinks it is necessary to have a second, shorter veil for the wedding dinner.
“No, I think after the wedding you take off the veil altogether; you don’t need it anymore,” he replies. “Once you are married, you are married.” Alamuddin smiles. Like the dress, the cathedral veil is adorned with Chantilly lace and bead-and-crystal embroidery; it descends all the way down the back of the dress almost to the floor.
The topic of hairstyle is broached, and it is agreed that hair down but tucked behind the shoulders is the best solution so as not to compete with the neckline of the dress and the embellishment on the veil. The hair and makeup by Orlando Pita and Alice Lane for Alamuddin’s Vogue photo shoot will act as a wedding-day trial run.
The most envied bride-to-be since Catherine Middleton became the Duchess of Cambridge, Alamuddin runs her fingers across the dress’s bateau neckline, exposing the seven-carat, ethically mined emerald-cut diamond that hovers like a Chiclet-size spaceship over the fourth finger of her left hand. She asks Ilardo about the neckline, cut off the shoulder to highlight Alamuddin’s Parmagianino neck and poitrine, and wonders if it will remain unfinished. He nods vigorously in agreement. “Oui, madame, it will be a raw edge. Un peu impur.” She discusses the details of the tailoring with Ilardo in French before replying to her mother’s questions in Arabic and proceeding to implore de la Renta, in English, to join their wedding festivities in order to see the dresses in action. Dresses, plural, includes the festive, Gatsby-style party frock that de la Renta is supplying as the second act of the evening.
This she slips into after the wedding dress has been carefully removed. Her entrance is preceded by a soft clicking sound, like the chicest swarm of cicadas, the all-over silver and pearl beading and beaded fringe hem snapping together with each step. The dress is from de la Renta’s fall 2014 collection, and Alamuddin’s reedlike frame fits effortlessly into the runway sample. It has been shortened from ankle to mid-thigh, the better to show off her endless legs and to make it a true dancing dress.
De la Renta studies the outfit and then issues a soft command to one of his deputies. Suddenly a pair of hand-embroidered beaded silver pumps emerges from a hidden closet. These Baroque marvels are the runway shoes for de la Renta’s upcoming spring 2015 show. The ensemble is complete. De la Renta looks on proudly, the elegant Dominican fairy godfather.
“You look hot!” he declares.
The room erupts into giggles.