A very British scandal: listening to sex, scandal and the challenges of haute couture

She was the woman who once stopped traffic – literally – as crowds gathered just to get a glimpse of her wedding dress. Thirty years later, in 1963, it was her sex life that made the headlines as she underwent a very public (and scandalous) divorce lawsuit. Now Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, is the subject of BBC One’s Boxing Day drama, A very British scandal, which revolves around the said trial and the media circus that accompanied it. Claire Foy plays the Duchess, Paul Bettany his Duke and although they both give stellar performances, they are almost eclipsed by their incredible costumes.

Paul Bettany and Claire Foy in A Very British Scandal

For Ian Fulcher, the show’s costume designer, it was never his intention to simply replicate Margaret’s outfits. Instead, he says he was looking for the “essence” of her, visible in the fitted figures, the few animal prints, and the sumptuous fabrics of Venetian silk and wool. “I always kept the figure very close to the body because it was about empowering him in his sexuality,” says Fulcher. If it sounds very modern, it’s because this story is a story for our time.

margaret duchess of argyll in wedding dress

Margaret in the wedding dress that stopped traffic

The climax of the drama involves the Duke of Argyll starting divorce proceedings against his wife after stealing her diaries, letters and explicit photographs, including one in which she had sex with an unknown man. This led to a national scandal, predictably dominated by sexist attitudes towards female sexuality – attitudes that have not entirely disappeared from contemporary society. This case is often regarded as one of the earliest examples of pornographic revenge, something that is becoming more and more prevalent in society – last year the UK pornographic revenge helpline announced had its busiest year, with the amount of images it processes increasing by up to 60%.

claire foy in a very british scandal

Claire Foy: The Duchess of Argyll

“You could go from being the most beautiful woman who stops traffic to dying penniless in a nursing home and people will always call you the Duchess of Blowjob,” says Sarah Phelps, the show’s screenwriter. “Women are subject to different standards all the time. But I also thought about Meghan Markle a lot, just for what the modern press gives her all the time and compares her to Kate Middleton. Why are [these women] considered fair play just because they are in the public eye? “

claire foy in a very british scandal

The Duchess’s challenge in the face of such a scandal is reflected a lot in what she wears. Throughout, it’s clear that her clothes – from her high waisted pants worn with beautiful silk blouses to her immaculately cut suits – are her armor, protecting her from the outside forces she fights so hard to control.

Margaret, Duchess of Argyll in 1955

Margaret, Duchess of Argyll in 1955

During the six weeks of filming, Fulcher says there were 85 costume changes just for Claire Foy, all of which were made especially for her except for the knits, which were discovered in vintage stores. . “She stuck two fingers in the world,” says Fulcher. “She’s sexy, and sometimes it’s looked down upon. But why? We should embrace sex.

Nina Gabbana Vintage

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The source of Rihanna’s Dior by John Galliano blue beaded choker, Nina Gabbana Vintage is managed by Marie Laboucarié from her apartment in Paris. She mainly sells pieces from the 90s and 2000s from designers such as Dolce and Gabbana, Dior, Gucci, Fendi and more. Well, if that’s good enough for Rihanna …

Mai de Vere Vintage

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If you’re looking for an outfit that no one else will have seen, May de Vere is your answer. There are sparkly sequined pieces, puff-sleeve evening dresses, and wonderfully over-the-top frothy concoctions with oversized bow detailing. There are also more understated options, but it’s almost impossible to resist the frills and frills on offer. Each piece is unique and can be purchased via Instagram.

ASOS Market

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While you might not think of ASOS as the most obvious choice when it comes to buying vintage, there are actually a number of brilliant sellers in the brand’s marketplace. This is one of the best places to look for pre-loved designer pieces, some of which are very affordable. While there are plenty of shops worth checking out frequently, also look out for The Rare Edit, a limited collection of rare designer vintage pieces. To follow @asosmarketplace on Instagram to keep tabs on the next delivery.

Darling & Vintage

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Cassie started Darling & Vintage as a store on Etsy, where she still sells everything from 50s embroidered jackets to 70s sundresses and maxis. It’s definitely worth following her. on Instagram, however, where she advertises new items for sale. Considering how fast most of them tend to sell, you better watch your posts closely!

Hello Vintage

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A relatively new venture from influencer Rachael Clifton, this is a great Instagram account to follow if you’re looking for some standout pieces that you could wear every day. Think of some great accessories and trendy jackets, all of which can be purchased through DM.

A virtual vintage market

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Not only will you find live markets that you can follow via Instagram (a very welcome way to spend another day in lockdown), you’ll also find information on independent sellers around the world, giving you plenty of options. One of the founders also created Vintage Peony, which allows you to buy parts directly from the website.

Vintage Rokit

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A mainstay of vintage in London, Rokit is a treasure trove filled with everything from perfect evening dresses to knits, shoes, belts and bags. If you can’t find something you like here, you might not be looking for enough. Best of all, there’s something for every budget.

Imperfect Paris

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Imparfaite offers a selection of second-hand clothes and accessories from the most popular vintage boutiques in France. From Gucci bags to Levi’s shorts, this is definitely the place to find pieces that will garner compliments and become some of your favorite clothes in your wardrobe.

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