Inspired by the horrific mishap suffered by Madonna during what was supposed to be her triumphant return to the BRITS stage after twenty years, this week I am looking into the first world problem that is The Wardrobe Malfunction.
We’ve all been there and for once this isn’t an issue confined to womankind alone. For every skirt tucked in knickers story, there’s a willy caught in zipper one. Who could forget poor old Judy Finnigan standing up at that awards ceremony only for the top half of her dress to fall off revealing a huge unsightly flesh coloured bra? Almost as infamous but far more entertaining than Judy, is an old school friend of mine who in his role as best man at our mate’s wedding, posed for the bridal party photos shortly after returning from the loo. A blob of wee on the front of his trousers is clearly visible in every single picture.
Have I shared my broken heel story? It starts with an inauspicious walk of shame from north to south London one Tuesday morning shortly before my dreaded 30th birthday. Dressed in nightclub black from head to foot and with last night’s make-up blotted onto my face, I hadn’t got much further than the end of Abbey Road (I’ve put the address in to make it all sound a bit more cool) when my spike heel simply broke off.
Call a cab? No, too expensive.
Bus to Oxford Street and buy a cheap pair of flats? No, too early.
Style it out and bank on the fact that if you walk as if you have a stiletto on each foot then that is what people will assume?
Shortlived bloke with whom I’d been out the night before wasn’t ever going to come to my rescue (no room for feminism here), he laughed at the spike heel in my hand, exclaimed, “I thought that only happened in films!” and hotfooted it off down the escalator to catch the tube to his Berkley Square office. He couldn’t get away from me fast enough and when I discovered he had a girlfriend, I realised why.
So the third option is what I plumped for, to style it out being the cheapest and quickest solution. The bird’s nest which when I left the house twelve hours before had been my carefully straightened hair style, helpfully distracted attention away from my feet. I spent three years in drama school and it wasn’t all wasted apparently because my little improvisation worked like a charm. That is to say, no strangers approached me saying, “Excuse me, you have one stiletto heel missing and yet you don’t appear to have noticed?”
I think Madonna has actually come off rather well from the Brits incident. She recovered magnificently from what must have been a really painful fall and her performance, which by the way was sung live, was largely unaffected. And there was absolutely no question that it was an unfortunate accident. Unlike the 2004 Superbowl when Janet Jackson supposedly suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction which saw her right breast come face to face with Justin Timberlake. The immediate backlash that followed questioned why, if this was a genuine mistake, did she have such a bizarre and unnecessary piece of jewellery attached to her nipple? No publicity is bad publicity folks. And that right boob must have really needed the publicity badly.
So-called wardrobe malfunctions make front pages and are really nothing new. Remember the picture of an innocent Lady Diana Spencer posing with two toddlers in a nursery garden?Photographers don’t miss a trick and while I’m sure the Queen was none too pleased, it earned Lady Di a few supporters and had newspaper editors rubbing their hands with glee. In later years, Princess Diana certainly used her wardrobe to her advantage and although she would be careful not to be caught out again, it wouldn’t be the last time she showed off her legs to ensure media coverage.
I’m a die-hard Madonna fan so I’m pleased that she’s fine and has ultimately gained respect for her ‘show must go on’ attitude because whatever you think of her, she didn’t deserve to be pulled backwards by the neck down steps. It’s all too easy to appear quite by choice in a transparent dress without any underwear as Rhianna did last year (pfft, Madonna’s been there and done that) but in the end it’s your recovery and dignity in the face of potential humiliation which is most revealing.
As for me, despite the ungallant behaviour of my date I made it safely back to my flat in Clapham Junction with just the one heel, and aside from one sore calf muscle, I was just fine. Shoes and date went in the bin shortly afterwards.