A very British scandal: tune in when it comes to sex, scandal and high fashion

She was the woman who once – literally – stopped traffic when crowds gathered to see her wedding dress. Thirty years later, in 1963, her sex life dominated the headlines when she endured 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 process and the accompanying media circus. Claire Foy plays the Duchess, Paul Bettany her Duke, and while they both do outstanding performances, their incredible costumes almost overshadow them.

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 imitate Margaret’s outfits. Instead, he says, he was looking for the “essence” of her, which is evident in the tailored silhouettes, the few animal prints and the precious fabrics made of silk and Venetian wool. “I always kept the silhouette very figure-hugging because the point was that it was strengthened in its sexuality,” says Fulcher. If that sounds very modern, it’s because this story is one for our time.

Margaret Duchess of Argyll in her wedding dress

Margaret in the wedding dress that stopped the traffic

The climax of the drama is when the Duke of Argyll initiates divorce proceedings against his wife after stealing her diaries, letters, and some explicit photos, including one in which she had sex with an unknown man. This led to a national scandal that has been predictably dominated by sexist attitudes towards female sexuality – attitudes that have not entirely disappeared from today’s society. This case is often viewed as one of the very earliest examples of revenge porn, something that is gaining traction in society – last year the UK revenge porn helpline had its busiest year on record, and the number of pictures it has taken busy increased by up to 60%.

Claire Foy in a very British scandal

Claire Foy as Duchess of Argyll

“You could go from the most beautiful woman stopping traffic to a penniless death in a nursing home and people will still call you the blow-job duchess,” says Sarah Phelps, the show’s writer. “Women are held by different standards all the time. But I’ve also thought a lot about Meghan Markle, especially in light of how much the modern press addresses her all the time and compares her to Kate Middleton. Why are [these women] considered fair game just because they are in public? ‘

Claire Foy in a very British scandal

The Duchess’s defiance in the face of such a scandal is very much reflected in her clothes. It is consistently clear that her clothing – from her high-waisted trousers to gorgeous silk blouses to her impeccably tailored suits – is her armor that protects her from the external forces she fights so hard against.

Margaret, Duchess of Argyll in 1955

Margaret, Duchess of Argyll in 1955

During the six-week shoot, there were 85 costume changes for Claire Foy alone, according to Fulcher, all of which were custom-made for her except for the knitwear, which was discovered in vintage stores. “She sticks out two fingers,” says Fulcher. “She’s sexy and she’s looked down on at times. But why? We should accept sex. ‘

Nina Gabbana Vintage

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The source of Rihanna’s blue Dior by John Galliano pearl necklace, Nina Gabbana Vintage, is run by Marie Laboucarié from her Paris apartment. She mainly sells pieces from the 90s and 00s by designers such as Dolce and Gabbana, Dior, Gucci, Fendi and others. Well, if it’s good enough for Rihanna …

Mai de Vere Vintage

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If you are looking for a show stopper for an outfit that no one else has seen before, May de Vere is your answer. There are glittering sequins, party dresses with puff sleeves and wonderfully exaggerated, foamy creations with oversized bow details. There are more understated options too, but it’s nearly impossible to resist the flourishes and flourishes on offer. Each piece is unique and can be purchased via Instagram.

ASOS Marketplace

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While you might not consider ASOS to be the most obvious choice when shopping for vintage, there are actually a number of brilliant sellers in the brand’s marketplace. It’s one of the best places to look for popular designer pieces, some of which are very affordable. While many of the boutiques are worth checking out regularly, keep an eye out for The Rare Edit, a limited curated collection of rare designer vintage pieces. Follow @asosmarketplace on Instagram to keep an eye on when the next drop will take place.

Darling & Vintage

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Cassie started Darling & Vintage as a shop on Etsy, where she still sells everything from embroidered 1950s jackets to sun dresses to 70s maxis. It is definitely worth following on Instagram, however, where she announces new items for sale. Given the speed at which most of them are selling, it’s best to keep a close eye on their posts!

Bonjour Vintage

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A relatively new venture from influencer Rachael Clifton. This is a great Instagram account to follow if you are looking for some standout pieces to wear every day. Think of excellent accessories and statement jackets, all of which can be bought with DM.

A virtual vintage market

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Not only will you find live markets to follow via Instagram (a very welcome way to spend another day in lockdown) you can also find information on independent sellers around the world who have plenty of options for you. One of the founders also founded Peony vintagewith which you Shop pieces directly from the website.

Rokit vintage

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A vintage star in London, Rokit is a treasure trove of everything from perfect party dresses to knitwear, shoes, belts and bags. If you can’t find what you love here, you may not be looking carefully enough. And best of all: there is something for every budget.

Imparfaite Paris

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Imparfaite has a curated selection of popular clothing and accessories from France’s most popular vintage stores. From Gucci bags to Levi’s shorts, this is sure to be the place to find pieces that will garner compliments and become your favorite pieces of clothing in your closet.



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