In defence of Holly Willoughby's 'totally inappropriate' Dancing on Ice dress

Bethan Holt
·3-min read
Holly Willoughby wearing a gown by Dany Atrache - ITV/ Shutterstock
Holly Willoughby wearing a gown by Dany Atrache - ITV/ Shutterstock

In some ways, it’s quite comforting that amidst all the things out there to get vexed about right now, some have chosen to direct their efforts at… Holly Willoughby in a frothy pink ballgown.

‘Gosh, it feels good to put a sequin on,’ the ITV presenter wrote on Instagram as she posted a photo of herself twirling in the feather bedecked Dany Atrache dress, looking like a midcentury Hollywood starlet complete with Marcel waves and shimmery make-up, on Sunday.

When I scrolled past the image last night, I thought nothing more than how lovely it was that someone has a chance to get all dressed up right now and that she had embraced it so wholeheartedly with what appeared to be the prettiest frock she - and new stylist Danielle Whiteman - could find.

Groundbreakingly fashion-forward it may not have been, but a salve to eyes starved of glamour it most certainly was.

As Dancing on Ice was broadcast, however, some viewers had other opinions to proffer. Views ranged from the dress being declared ‘totally inappropriate’ especially ‘for a family show’ to Willoughby being told that she was ‘dressed as a toilet roll holder’.

While there’s no denying that the Atrache gown has a deep v-neckline to the naval, where cleavage ended and dress began was really barely perceptible thanks to the peachy-pink tone of both the dress and Willoughby’s skin.

As for the toilet roll holder accusation, I’d prefer maximalist, decorative and delightfully OTT but no matter which words you chose, a little frivolity on a dark winter’s Sunday evening in lockdown can only be a good thing.

Watch: Here are all the BEST moments from the first episode of Dancing On Ice 2021

Holly Willoughby on Dancing on Ice - Shutterstock
Holly Willoughby on Dancing on Ice - Shutterstock

Willoughby’s fashion decisions have divided opinion before (Ofcom has received complaints about previous outfits) and perhaps that is why there is such comfort to be taken not only in her Dancing on Ice glamour, but also in the storm it has apparently evoked.

For every person making a snide comment, there is another oo-ing and ah-ing over the rare sight of someone in a party dress when most of us are existing in duvet coats and joggers. For those taking offence, it is possibly soothing to have something as inconsequential to get annoyed about as a TV presenter’s dress.

Besides, it is Willoughby and Whiteman getting the last laugh here. Their partnership began when Whiteman assisted Willoughby's former stylist, Angie Smith, who helped to elevate the presenter into a fashion influencer, with the pieces she wears on This Morning frequently selling out. Whiteman is continuing that trend, but there have been forays into new fashion territory too, with designer looks sourced from rental sites being mixed in with high street brands.

No matter how much pearl clutching this first look of the series has attracted, it has made the show more discussed than it would otherwise have been and has only enhanced Willoughby’s reputation for somehow being at once a risk taker and a great everywoman of TV style. To find a gown which some can call too frumpy and others can label too sexy is quite the achievement.

'I'm so looking forward to what's to come,' wrote Willoughby recently showing off a tulle gown chosen for a Dancing on Ice trailer. With weeks more of lockdown and a whole series stretching ahead, Willoughby's Sunday night dress-ups will be one thing to look forward to. Right now, I cannot think of anything more 'appropriate' than that.

Watch: Dancing On Ice skater injured in 'FREAK ACCIDENT'