Soap operas aren’t my thing. I simply don’t have the temperament required for the drawn-out scenes that characterize the genre.
But, on two occasions, I gorged on soap operas both of which ran for several years. I religiously watched Downton Abbey (from the first to the last episode) and Revenge (I stopped after the heroine’s dead father miraculously came back to life). The reason I watched them? Fashion. Clothes and jewelry. Every episode was a feast to the eyes.
It’s for the same reason that I started watching the Spanish soap opera, Velvet, on Netflix.
Set in the 1950’s, Velvet is the story of a haute couture fashion house heir, Alberto, who fell in love with one of the seamstresses, Ana. Yep, the usual ill-fated romance. Rich boy and poor girl torn apart by social class and economic hardship.
When Alberto inherited Velvet, it was deeply in debt. His scheming stepmother (of course, there’s always the equivalent of a witch!) made sure that no bank would extend him credit. Then, a long-time family friend offered to loan him the money to keep the store afloat on the condition that he married his daughter, Cristina. Knowing that Alberto would never consider marrying another, Ana broke their engagement to give Alberto the freedom to marry Cristina, save Velvet and avoid its employees’ loss of livelihood.
Oh, yes, soap opera to the hilt. But, oh boy, you can forgive the corny story if you just focus on the clothes. And what is it about these Spanish actresses? Do they drink blood to make them look so youthful? The actresses that play Ana and Cristina are in their 40’s but they look like they’re in their early 30’s. Late 20’s, even. And all the women in the show, including the matrons, have gorgeous legs.
But, anyway, about the wedding dress. Toward the end of Season 1, Alberto and Cristina were to be married but, by some misfortune, Cristina’s bridal dress was lost on the day before the wedding. The designer and seamstresses of Velvet worked overnight to create a new one which was described as similar to Grace Kelly’s except for the cleavage.
Are the two dresses really similar?
Let’s compare. Both have fitted lace bodice and puffy glossy skirt.
The bodice of Grace Kelly’s dress was made with heavier antique Brussels lace while the lace on Cristina’s dress was lighter and more transparent in places.
And while the skirt of Cristina’s dress appears to be made of satin, Grace Kelly’s was made of ivory faille (a kind of taffeta).
And then, there’s the matter of the shape of the skirt. Grace Kelly’s dress had a bell-shaped skirt while Cristina’s was a pleated circle skirt.
Can we really say that Cristina’s dress was inspired by Grace Kelly’s?
Nah, they share some similarities but, overall, they are not really all that similar.
While the reference to Grace Kelly in Velvet makes some sense because she was, after all, a fashion icon of the era, the claim that the wedding dress was Grace Kelly-inspired was a bit of a stretch.
The thing is, the show’s creators and producers took such pain to make the “looks” historically accurate — it reputedly cost 500,000 euros per episode to create authentic-looking costumes, architecture and interior design — and then an unnecessary boo-boo with the wedding dress. They could have taken out the reference to Grace Kelly’s wedding dress without detracting from the inherent merits of Cristina’s beautiful wedding ensemble.