Melanie Morris: It's Dannii vs Cheryl in the X Factor Fashion wars
JUST one week into the live finals of X Factor and already the style war between Cheryl and Dannii has heated up to scorching with more tweets, forum posts and blogs being written about the two judges' appearance than the fate of the contestants it seems.
The two divas are having their every inch examined, debated and discussed as they try to outdo each other. Experts are called on to comment on how the girls looked almost every day.
So, who's tops? Well, right now, Dannii is -- and it boils down to one simple factor: fake tan.
Cheryl appeared on stage on Saturday surrounded by an orange, almost radioactive halo. She'd been properly Tango'd and it totally distracted from her perfect hair, pretty face and lovely Daniel Vosovic frock. Dannii meanwhile, was paler, in a white lace J'Aton Couture dress, loose hair and a slash of red lipstick.
But it's a long ball game, as the footballer's wife will tell you. There's a whole season of designer frocks, Hollywood hairdos, make-up and statement jewellery to get through and already, the statistics are astonishing.
Cheryl's budget for wardrobe and grooming tops €170,000 for the season. Her team includes a stylist, hairdresser and two make-up artists. Dannii spends less, approximately €2,300 per show on clothes, no stylist, but hair and make-up.
Dannii wears Aussie designers as a rule, and borrows lots of incredible gob-stopper rings from Annoushka (available to the rest of us in Brown Thomas). This year, Dannii's got an additional weapon in her style arsenal with her own fashion label, Project D, and wore a black prom dress from the collection last Sunday. Ker-ching!
In comparison, Cheryl looked dated on Saturday, and WAG-ish -- a look she's tried to distance herself from since the his 'n' hers white suits of the UK lottery ads with her then new beau, Ashley.
Cheryl may be the higher spender, but when she chooses to be sprayed Dorito orange, it doesn't mean a thing.
She did rally with a beautiful Zuhair Murad lace mini-dress on Sunday, but I thought she looked tired. And in clocking Cheryl's auburn skin, I suddenly realised how dated she looked. How fake tans are truly things of the early Noughties; along with new cars, bottles of Crystal and 100pc mortgages. The trend for paler skin has latched to the zeitgeist.
Perhaps Dannii lulled Cheryl into a false sense of security. A new mum, Dannii claims not to have been near a gym since the birth and was reported last week to have said she had nothing prepared for her X Factor appearances.
To me, that sounds like the sly class swot who claims never to have done any study before exams, only to romp home with straight As, or -- in Dannii's case at the moment -- a pair of fine DDs.
I don't think even Princess Diana underwent such scrutiny in her heyday, and it'll all start afresh next week again, when the two ladies appear on stage.
And it's this tension and excitement that I -- and most women I know -- look forward to on a Saturday and Sunday night. Forget the singers, the groups and the girls (except Mary Byrne of course -- Go Mary!) -- we want to see how the judges fare, searching online for instant recognition of who's in what.
Dannii, Cheryl . . . it's time to face the music.
Melanie Morris is editor of IMAGE Magazine.