That's one way to move on from a billionaire
Vogue Australia has scored something of a coup for its November 2013 issue - a cover story starring Erica Packer, the recently-estranged wife of Crown Limited chairman James Packer, Australia's third richest man.
In what is a case of quite incredible timing for new editor Edwina McCann, the photoshoot was done in Paris in July, prior to last month's news of the couple's separation. Due to the developments, the scheduled interview was subsequently postponed, but eventually proceeded - just prior to the issue going to press.
The issue's only cover line is "The Vogue interview: motherhood & moving on".
The issue is out tomorrow and a spokeswoman has confirmed that the cover that was released today on the Vogue website and other news outlets operated by licensee News Corp Australia, is the actual newsstand cover (as opposed to a subscriber cover or simply another image from Packer's photoshoot within the magazine).
Brilliant get, of course.
But the choice of cover is even more interesting. And since Packer has flown in to meet and greet the media at a special launch in Sydney tomorrow night to promote the issue, one assumes the title had her explicit permission before proceeding with same.
Shot by Steven Chee and styled by Vogue's senior fashion editor Christine Centenera, the cover features the 36 year-old former model in a gown from Christian Dior's Fall 2013 haute couture collection, which was presented in Paris in July - reportedly attended by Packer, with her three young children Indigo, Jackson and Emmanuelle. And reportedly also hand-chosen by her for the cover.
The full-length violet gown is completely transparent and on the runway was presented by the company's new creative director Raf Simons on Dutch model Marte Mei van Haaster with just a pair of high-waisted black knickers underneath.
According to Vogue sources, the dress was styled and shot for the cover exactly per the show look - which is, Frockwriter is told, a requirement of the house of Dior when shooting its haute couture collections.
It is extremely difficult to imagine any of Dior's cashed-up couture clients wearing this dress in real life without some form of slip or coverup underneath - certainly on the top portion.
And yet here is a hotpant-clad Packer, not in a surreptitious "side boob" shot taken by a paparazzo at a red carpet event, but in a carefully art-directed Vogue cover photograph, covering the nipple of her clearly-visible left breast with one arm.
UPDATE 20/10/13 12:14: According to this news.com.au version of the Packer/Vogue cover story, Packer in fact purchased the dress from Dior and plans to wear it to tomorrow night's launch.
Here is the dress on Dior's runway in July:
The choice of Dior couture for the cover seems fairly significant in fact.
As revealed by WWD in the week lead up to the Packers' lavish 2007 wedding on the French Côte d'Azur, the then Erica Baxter wore a magnificent Flamenco-inspired gown from Dior's haute couture Spring 2007 collection, designed by former creative director John Galliano. The gown was originally presented on the runway in chartreuse on Brazilian Raquel Zimmermann. Here is the original version:
Haute couture represents the absolute top end of the fashion business - as practised by just 14 officially-accredited fashion houses, with an additional 14 invited/associated members permitted to participate in the bi-annual show schedule by by the Paris-based Chambre Syndicale de la haute couture.
With prices starting at US$10,000 for daywear and reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the heavily-embellished eveningwear that often requires hundreds of hours of craftsmanship, it is no surprise that the client base is limited. Current estimates put the client base at a maximum of 2000.
There is no shortage of super rich in the world and what better way to differentiate yourself from the masses than with an ultra-exclusive, hand-made gown tailored to your exact measurements and which costs as much as a Lamborghini?
With her divorce settlement looming Packer might not have to curb her couture appetite.
James Packer boasts an estimated net worth of $6billion, placing him 198th on the Forbes' Billionaires list and the settlement - estimated by BRW to be potentially worth $100million - promises to make Erica one of Australia's wealthiest under-40's.
COVER PHOTO BY STEVEN CHEE. HIGHRES SUPPLIED BY VOGUE AUSTRALIA