Keira Knightley’s Juliet is probably one of – if not the - most maligned characters in Love Actually. Maybe it’s her ‘terrible taste in pie’ (in case you haven’t seen the film at least 5,375 times since its release in 2003, she favours banoffee); maybe it’s her pre-disposition to say things like ‘I look quite pretty, don’t I?’ while watching a video of herself - whatever the reason, she’d hardly come close to topping a list of the film’s most endearing characters (Emma Thompson's Karen would, of course, be victorious in said list).
But like her or loathe her, it can’t be denied that the opening scene in which Juliet marries Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character, Peter – and the musical flash mob that accompanies their walk back down the aisle – is one of Love Actually’s most memorable, most Richard Curtis moments. Her slightly sheer wedding dress, too, is certainly fashion forward, and couldn't be further from the meringues worn by the brides in that other Brit rom-com staple, Four Weddings and a Funeral. According to the film's costume designer, though, Juliet's bridal gown could have been a lot more... dramatic.
Joanna Johnston, the Oscar-nominated designer who has most recently outfitted Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in Forties fashions for the much-discussed wartime drama Allied, told Grazia that ‘Richard Curtis wanted [Keira's] character to be kind of sexy, even as a bride. He wanted her to be dressed ready for the end of the scene where they’re partying, so he had this idea of a crop top, with a bare tummy.’ It all sounds rather reminiscent of the actual outfit Keira wore for the premiere of Bend It Like Beckham a few years earlier, no?
Johnston's sensible response, however, was to reign things in a little, keeping the length and lines of the dress form-fitting but a little less in-your-face than Curtis' original idea would have it.
'I told Richard, "You don't want a bare tummy going into church!"' she said, 'so I went for a sheer, layered style instead with petal details underneath; gauzy and multi-layered.' The result? One of the most memorable on-screen wedding dresses of recent years. We think it's time for our annual Love Actually re-watch...
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