Renting The Vampire’s Wife: The A-list frock that everyone can rock

Kate, Carrie and co can’t get enough of this showstopper dress. And now, says Laura Craik, thanks to the trend for renting clothes, we can all dazzle in a design by The Vampire’s Wife for a fraction of the price.

Kate Middleton portrait
Kate chose a Vampire’s wife dress for her first official painted portrait with William by award-winning artist Jamie Coreth. Image: Camera Press

Every so often, a dress comes along that captures women’s imaginations so completely that you begin to see it everywhere. The Vampire’s Wife’s dress is one such creation. Svelte of body, fluted of sleeve and in myriad prints, fabrics and hues, the only off-putting thing about it is the lofty price tag. A cotton iteration starts at £750, rising to £2,250 for a midi-length version in metallic silk lamé.

Kate Middleton
The stars dazzling in The Vampire’s Wife designs: The Duchess of Cambridge. Image: Stephen Lock/REX/Shutterstock
Natalie portman
The stars dazzling in The Vampire’s Wife designs: Natalie Portman. Image: Raymond Haaa/GC Images

Happily for the budget-conscious, these prices are no longer prohibitive. For a more modest sum, fans can still wear the dress, albeit for only a weekend. For if 1967 was the Summer of Love, 2022 is the Summer of Dress Rental. A variety of sites have sprung up to offer affordable lending services to the increasing numbers of women looking for a sustainable answer to the perennial question of ‘what to wear’ to the events in their diaries.

keeley hawes
The stars dazzling in The Vampire’s Wife designs: Keeley Hawes. Image: Vianney Le Caer/REX/Shutterstock
Holly Willoughby
The stars dazzling in The Vampire’s Wife designs: Holly Willoughby. Image: Holly Willoughby/Instagram

The must-rent of the season? A Vampire’s Wife dress. Rental site By Rotation reports that its size six green lamé version alone has been rented more than 25 times this summer, with strong demand for all 217 designs across the site. The popularity of the dress can partly be explained by its celebrity fans, who include Sienna Miller, Salma Hayek, Natalie Portman, Thandiwe Newton, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holly Willoughby, Kylie Minogue, Alexa Chung and Florences Pugh and Welch. The Duchess of Cambridge also chose the brand’s Falconetti design for her and Prince William’s first official joint portrait.

Elizabeth Reaser
The stars dazzling in The Vampire’s Wife designs: Elizabeth Reaser. Image: Image Press Agency/REX/Shut​terstock
Rachel Weisz
The stars dazzling in The Vampire’s Wife designs: Rachel Weisz. Image: Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

It’s incredibly flattering on most body shapes. Last summer, Carrie Johnson rented the satin floral dress from My Wardrobe HQ for the G7 dinner at the Eden Project in Cornwall. This summer, lots more women have chosen it for special occasions of their own. Did they bump into ten other women wearing it? Did they love it enough to make it their own? Let’s find out…

Suranne jones
The stars dazzling in The Vampire’s Wife designs: Suranne Jones. Image: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock
carrie johnson
The stars dazzling in The Vampire’s Wife designs: Carrie Johnson. Image: Jack Hill/Getty Images

The gold star

Megan Murray, 30, rented her Falconetti dress from hurrcollective.com for a wedding in Sussex.
Cost to rent: £120 for three days
Cost to buy: £1,595

Megan Murray

I’ve always adored The Vampire’s Wife dresses ‒ there’s something so special about the cut, the detailing and the delicate material. They feel feminine and mystical. Coincidentally, founder Susie Cave recently moved to the medieval town where I live in Sussex, and created a scented candle inspired by the area’s history. This engaged me more.

I’ve dreamed of wearing one of these dresses for years, but would never be able to afford to buy one. I was due to go to a wedding on the Jubilee bank holiday weekend and the dress I’d bought didn’t arrive in time. I went to Selfridges to buy something else and noticed a pop-up for the fashion rental site Hurr. It was my boyfriend who spotted the gold, shimmering sleeve of the Falconetti design. He pulled the dress out, asking if this was that designer I liked. Instantly, it made sense: why spend £100 on something I didn’t feel special in and might not wear again, when I could spend a similar amount and have memories of a dress I truly loved?

The shape was flattering, and the colour was perfect. I received lots of compliments on the day ‒ everyone loved it.

The flower wower

Ali Belamant, 35, rented her Belle No11 Botanical Print dress from byrotation.com for a wedding in the Peak District.
Cost to rent: £90 for three days
Cost to buy: £995

Ali belamant

I always rent clothes for special occasions and holidays: it’s better for the planet and my bank balance. As a clumsy person, I do get nervous about spilling things on them, but nothing disastrous has happened yet. I’d loved The Vampire’s Wife dresses for years, and a spring wedding felt like the perfect opportunity to wear one. It seems like every celebrity from the Duchess of Cambridge to Natalie Portman has been seen wearing the label, but I hadn’t spotted anyone in the exact style I went for, which was a long-sleeved midi in a floral print. It was the right choice: the ceremony was very traditional, and it was appropriate for the setting. I paired it with chandelier pearl earrings and silver strappy heels from & Other Stories.

Fortunately, no one at the wedding was wearing the same dress and the Belle design was a great ice-breaker, with quite a few guests asking me how the rental process worked. As fabulous as I felt, I wouldn’t buy it. I’m the kind of person who wants to try another dress for my next event. Playing dress-up in designer dresses is too much fun to commit to just one.

The fairytale frock

Kelly Stone, 40, rented her Cinderella dress from hurrcollective.com for her 40th birthday in South London.
Cost to rent: £121.66 for four days
Cost to buy: £895

kelly stone

I wanted something special for my party – and a dress by The Vampire’s Wife had been on my radar for a while. I had been to pretty much every high-street store and couldn’t find anything that I felt great in or that was special enough. The idea of hiring a design came to me late in the day, but when it did, I had my heart set on a dress by this label. The one I ended up wearing wasn’t the style I was originally looking for, as you’re limited by what’s available in your size when renting. I hadn’t seen this specific design before ‒ initially I wanted the shorter Falconetti dress seen on all the celebs ‒ but I ended up loving it. Given its popularity, I’m thankful I was the only one wearing it!

I would consider renting again. It opens up so many options, particularly for high-end items that you might not want to splurge on for a one-off event. I also like the idea that it is a more sustainable way of dressing. Would I ever buy a Vampire’s Wife dress? As much as I loved it, I wouldn’t wear it enough to justify the price. However, I will definitely rent one again ‒ I just need an occasion.

The glittery gown

Flo van der Spek, 30, rented her Festival dress from byrotation.com for her 30th birthday dinner in London.
Cost to rent: £128 for three days
Cost to buy: £1,765

flo van der spek

I’d already rented a black Falconetti for Christmas, but for my 30th I wanted something really special. I spotted the sparkly pink Festival dress and fell in love. I’d organised a fancy sit-down dinner and wanted something chic and playful, and it fitted the bill. I wore it with some purple Terry De Havilland heels I’ve had since I was 18, and a black vintage Accessorize bag.

I often rent clothes and also rent out my own clothes: I’ve made over £500 in the past month alone. Renting is a fun way to experiment without committing to buying. If it’s for a big party, I’d rent items that couldn’t be easily damaged, but if the worst happened, I’d be open with the lender.

I love the community aspect of renting. The By Rotation app lets you see the person who owns it, and how she styles it. The owner of the dress I rented also had photos of other women who’ve borrowed it, so I could see how it looked. The dress had loads of positive reviews, which encouraged me. I loved borrowing it. Luckily, no one else was wearing anything similar – but lots of people wanted to rent it after seeing mine.