Sometimes a dress comes along that has exceptional staying power and transcends the usual celeb desire to wear something never seen before in public.
This dress is The Falconetti, designed by Susie Cave – wife of rock star Nick Cave – aka The Vampire’s Wife.
To prove it, it was worn by actress Rachel Weisz on a publicity tour for her new series, Dead Ringers. She and the dress looked as good as ever.
The pretty fabric in florals, faded metallics, and silk satin was perfect for the bright light of New York spring, though since its launch in 2017, the dress has appeared in corduroy, velvet, chiffon, and sequins on actresses, royalty, musicians, and most importantly, a plethora of ‘women’. The real ones too.
Overall, a high-profile dress like this one has a very clear selling history in terms of fashionability. Its drawing power may last for two seasons, maybe two, but then it’s transferred to the pen of fashion, and it stays there for years until it’s a classic piece of cool.
Actress Rachel Weisz wore The Falconetti in New York last week for a publicity tour for her new series, Dead Ringers.
Falconetti also received royal approval after the Princess of Wales wore the beloved dress in Dublin in March 2020
When an item like The Falconetti is revealed, that spin on the carousel could take a decade. But this £1,595 dress and its sister design, The Cinderella (a longer version with a deeper layered hem for £850) has defied the trend. It continues to be worn by women who can appear in any dress they wish, by any designer in the world.
So what is this dress? What makes it so attractive that the Princess of Wales has worn it twice? Both times she opted for the sparkling emerald version – for a 2020 trip to Dublin and for the first official joint photo of herself and William as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. (A similar pink dress was also worn by the Vampire Wife on their royal visit to Belize.)
How she won over various personalities such as model Alexa Chung, singer Florence Welch, Princess Beatrice, actresses Keira Knightley, Jennifer Aniston and even Tilda Swinton, whose wardrobe is usually more eclectic and unpredictable.
They all happily posed in front of the cameras at The Vampire’s Wife, which is a small British indie brand that certainly doesn’t have the PR budget to purchase such a huge product placement.
No, it’s the same dress that women love. It achieves the difficult combination of being demure and sexy all at once.
Although the cut is high-necked (no sneaky cleavage shown), unlike many of the prairie-primary styles that became popular around the time Falconetti debuted, it enhances the wearer’s figure, tossing above the hips with an emphasis on a slight rise at the waist. . While it flatters most women, it cannot be said that the shape works well with large breasts, but few dresses suit absolutely everyone.
Due to the array of gorgeous fabrics that the dress comes in, it can be worn on the red carpet, to dinners with friends, and even to the most serious of occasions. Just look at Carrie Johnson’s hired black floral version worn to salute the late Queen at the G7 reception in 2021.
Three-quarter-length sleeves cover any upper-arm concerns, while a high-shoulder, sublimated shape gives the wearer a dignified rigor, as does a fitted bodice. (It’s still available to rent from By Rotation for £121.)
Actress Keira Knightley wore what might be the sexiest dress in the world in November 2017
American actresses Leighton Meester (pictured left in 2018) and Jennifer Aniston (right in 2018) also wore the famous dress.
This is a dress that declares that you are not afraid of being noticed. No one lingers on the sidelines in it, though there’s nothing vulgar or overtly sexual — unlike the slashed thighs, side-slit dresses we see on the red carpet nowadays.
The wearer is an adult player, Falconetti says, and that’s a key component of their enduring appeal. Although there are cute mini versions of the dress, the most popular longlines are loved by voluptuous women who don’t need to flaunt their bodies to get attention.
While young actresses like Daisy Edgar-Jones and Jodie Comer love the brand, its core success is part of a welcome shift toward celebrating older women. Nobody, after all, would suggest that 53-year-old Rachel Weisz is invisible or not at the peak of her career.
The reason for this is that it was headed up by 56-year-old designer Susie Cave, a mom, designer, endlessly interesting inventive style, and a languid mystic. Like all of the most successful female designers, she is the embodiment of her work.
Coco Chanel designed boleros jackets, fancy jewelry and wide-legged pants to fit her own lifestyle. Donna Karan always wore the slimming black drape that characterizes most of her collections. Diane von Furstenberg created the iconic wrap dress as a response to her life as a young working woman in the sexually liberated 1970s.
The wearer is an adult player, Falconetti says, and that’s a key component of their enduring appeal. Pictured: Carrie Johnson (left) and Holly Willoughby (right)
Maggie Gyllenhaal is also a fan of The Falconetti, as she wore it to an event in New York in December 2017.
Susie Hardy-Beck (as she was then), a successful supermodel in the late ’80s and ’90s, always had a spare and cool look, with her ebony-black hair, ivory skin and long Modigliani face.
The first time I saw her was in the early ’90s, in a collection of punk schoolgirl looks by British designer Bella Freud. It was Freud, now 62, who introduced Susie to Nick Cave, a fan of the Vampire Wife label. Freud is godmother to the couple’s 22-year-old son, Earl.
Earl’s twin brother, Arthur, died from a cliff fall on the south coast near their home when he was 15 years old. And after this unimaginable tragedy, Susie’s work gained the strength it has now.
After a period of shattering withdrawal from the world, she returns with a need for work that prompts her vision of the sign of the vampire’s wife. If you visit thevampireswife.com, you’ll find a page for Susie’s inspirations and general musings – when you buy the dress, you’re obviously also buying this woman’s personal style.
It all suggests that even if The Falconetti fades gracefully into the distance, The Vampire’s Wife will continue to dress celebrities and non-celebrities alike in the future for weddings, parties, christenings – well, almost anything really.