Having delved into some of the UK’s most impressive closets thanks to our
Best Wardrobes in Britain franchise, I think I can confidently say that Pippa Vosper has one of the best dress collections in the country. I haven’t had the pleasure of exploring her wardrobe (yet!) but it’s plain to see from her Instagram feed: 75.4k followers (of which I am one) are treated to whimsical, dreamy, dress-centric imagery on a very regular basis, and we can’t get enough of it. So alluring are her choices—white scalloped clouds of Cecilie Bahnsen, swathes of vintage cerise silk-satin—that I’m certain she could make the most hardened tracksuit wearer feel like slipping into something fancy for a low-key coffee run. “I can feel my energy go up a level when I put a beautiful dress on,” says Vosper, explaining that they are, for her, an “immediate mood lifter”. “It makes me stand taller, which of course has everything to do with confidence in that moment. I definitely stand in a different way when wearing a dress as opposed to jeans and a blazer—more elegant, more composed.”
Starting her fashion career as a stylist, Vosper now divides her time between presenting, hosting, organising events and writing—she’s particularly adept at telling personal stories you drink up until the very last drop. We share a mutual passion for a fantastic frock, so I thought it high time to combine her two skills and have the gown guru tell us the tales and memories tied to her most significant dresses.
The dress-related recollections go way back, and Vosper recalls her first important frock moment when she was around 10 years old. “Chelsea Girl was the one place all the older girls I knew in my neighbourhood (I grew up just off of the King’s Road in Chelsea) shopped. I remember my mother taking me to the store one Saturday morning and buying me a deep green angora mini dress. After buying the dress, we went to the hair salon and I had my hair cut into a (what I considered to be) a very grown up bob. It was a moment!” she says, noting that it wasn’t until her teens that dresses started to play a more important part in building her personal style and confidence. “I was self-conscious about my body (as most of us are at that age) and I found that dresses covered the parts I was most unsure of. I felt more confident in dresses and soon worked out how to dress for my body shape (athletic/boyish), then it became a discovery of shapes, patterns and fabrics I loved,” she explains. Nowadays she has the selection process down to a fine art, and I hereby anoint Vosper as London’s Dress Queen, a nomenclature she finds amusing but fathomable: “That’s so funny, and lovely to hear,” she says. “I think I am seen as a lover of dresses as that’s mostly all I wear in my Instagram photographs. It’s true, I do have an extensive collection of dresses as that’s the item of clothing I always feel most confident in. There are the little black dresses, summer dresses (of which they are many!) and then more conceptual pieces by Haider Ackermann, Sacai and Junya Watanabe. I actually love the more abstract, predominantly black dresses, but never seem to show these on my Instagram account.” Keep scrolling to see Vosper’s favourite dresses of all time, discover the stories behind them and maintain the optimistic viewpoint that we too shall create some more magical fashion moments over the coming months… Our beloved dresses deserve it.
“This was during the shows in Paris. It seems so long ago that we could travel, let alone attend fashion shows! My friend, the designer Gül Hürgel, was showing her collection and I had loaned this dress from her to wear to the shows that day. It was such a special piece and on returning to London, I found that Gül had kindly sent it to me as a gift. It’s one of those dresses that will be worn to events over the coming years and will always have such great memories attached to it.”
“This is a story of love and loss and eventual joy! I had asked an emerging designer to create my wedding dress. We had finalised the design, I had chosen fabrics and was three months away from the big day. On New Year’s Eve, he chose to tell me via email that his business was packing up and that he could no longer design my dress. I was three months away from my wedding and no other designer would make a bespoke dress in time. I had known for years that if I had £50K for a bespoke Giambattista Valli, I would have asked him to design my dress. The next best thing would be to see if I could loan one of his creations. I worked in fashion at the time and knew the PR Director for the house. Giambattista agreed immediately, and I was invited to his absolutely breathtaking atelier in Paris for fittings. On arrival, a rail of incredible dresses from his couture shows past and present had been hung on a rail for me to select from. Not being couture model size, the dress I chose was a little small, so Giambattista and those that work with him offered to alter the dress for me as a wedding gift. It was shipped to London in time for my wedding. It was quite possibly one of the most wonderful things I could imagine happening at that time. Such kindness and generosity in saving my wedding dress disaster. I did have to ship it back to Paris, but the memory will always be with me.”
“The style and fabric of this dress make you feel as though you have been transported to a bygone era. I wore this dress when visiting Lake Como for the first time. I had always wanted to stay at Villa d’Este and my husband and I booked to stay on our wedding anniversary. It was one of the most beautiful places I have stayed and the dress was the perfect fit for our anniversary dinner on the terrace, overlooking the water. I pack this dress each time I travel to Italy, it’s such a perfect piece for evenings spent drinking wine in the Italian sun.”
“I bought this incredible vintage dress for my husband’s birthday party at Babington House. The event was scheduled for 40 of our friends at Babington House in July 2020. Due to the pandemic, the party was of course postponed, and postponed again in September. The party is now taking place this summer (I hope) and this piece will be the ultimate ‘back to life’ dress! It’s quite dramatic and that’s certainly the look I’m going for—it will be the first time I will have dressed up for an event in over a year, so it has to be utterly worth it.”
“I love all the Cecilie Bahnsen collections, the shapes she creates and the fabrics are divine. This is such a talking point whenever I wear it, people always comment on the dress. It’s so beautiful. This image was taken last summer in Notting Hill. It was one of the last times that meeting friends was possible, so my girlfriends and I ensured we dressed up as we knew a major lockdown was coming. I stayed at the Portobello Hotel alone as a treat to myself and had planned to pamper myself while watching a film. Instead, I drank far too many cocktails in the early evening and fell straight to sleep as soon as I hit the bed. When hotels reopen I shall be booking myself back in and not going out beforehand!”
Next up, the spring dress trends we’re falling for.