Why Vanessa Redgrave Wore White to Natasha's Funeral

Why Vanessa Redgrave Wore White to Natasha's Funeral-photo

Of the countless images the world has seen from Natasha Richardson's Sunday funeral, one of the most striking is that of her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, clad in a brilliant white pantsuit and paisley scarf.

While fashion would seem an unlikely concern for Redgrave at present, such a bold contrast to the rest of Richardson's black-clad family is no coincidence.

What could the motives be for such an unusual look at such a bleak time?

"This is clearly a statement on her daughter's life, not her daughter's death," says expert Dr. David Kessler, coauthor of On Grief and Grieving, with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

"She may have wanted everyone to remember the brightness of Natasha."

Redgrave buried her daughter, 45, less than a week after a skiing accident in Canada resulted in fatal trauma to Richardson's brain. Since Sunday's service Kessler's website has been inundated with questions about Redgrave's suit.

"It's more questioning than criticism. People have been saying, 'Is this OK? We haven't seen this,'" Kessler tells Celebuzz.

Moreso, is it acceptable?

"People forget that our grief is unique, like a fingerprint," he says. "Celebrating life versus mourning the death? That could be her style."

And regardless of public opinion, Redgrave as an icon could influence funeral garb moving forward.

"Public figures have always influenced how we grieve. When Jackie Kennedy had her stiff upper lip...at JFK's funeral, the world said, 'That's how we grieve. We hold it in," Kessler says.

"Years later, there was a shot of Nancy Regan touching [President Ronald Regan's] casket and crying. After that, we saw people doing it because they felt permission."

Just today, it was revealed that Redgrave has postponed a scheduled NYC performance of Joan Didion's play The Year of Magical Thinking, about a woman who loses her husband and daughter.

"We grieve in character, and that applies even more to an actress," says Kessler.

 

Discuss

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  • lisajean
    lisajean

    I thought it was a wonderful tribute to her beloved daughter. She looked beautiful.

  • Sarah
    Sarah

    I think that's totally fine, she shouldn't feel guilty, you can celebrate a life as much as you can mourn a death. I do feel sad about her death though, because it could have been so easily prevented if she had gotten proper medical treatment early...

  • lisa
    lisa

    Are you serious? Who cares what anyone wears to a funeral........Oh my lord, is this what the world has become..............Sad, very sad.

  • Jean
    Jean

    Good for Vanessa! I love the shawl! People need to remember that a release from the physical body is an experience of extreme love and joy for that soul that crossed over. Natasha doesn't want somberness in her memory. She wants joy. I knew a woman who wore a bright orange scarf to her mother's memorial because her English mother told her as a child, "You don't wear black to a funeral. You wear orange. It's to celebrate their life with joy." So this daughter had to wear a bright orange dress to West Minster Abbey when she was a child. The memory made her laugh joyfully out loud -- Natasha would laugh. I totally agree...She was very beautiful and I assume a wonderful person also...celebrate her life. The black is how the family feels however because of the sadness of loss...I know, just lost my father and we feel black and blue. Also, her mother will be joining her soon anyway.

  • Donna
    Donna

    Oh, well that explains a lot. I thought she was still trying to claim she's a virgin. What a tacky and rude comment!

  • Annabelle
    Annabelle

    I have instructions for my funeral - bright colours to be worn please!! None of this drab, dreary stuff thank you very much. Why are they still doing this?? Let us realise to celebrate life, there is no disrespect by not wearing black.

  • speak da truth
    speak da truth

    people have been wearing white to funerals for years. my family has worn white to family funerals for the past 20 years as a sign of celebration not only of the life, but to signify our joy in their passing from this life to the next...just because we havent's seen celebs do it, doesn't mean it's not out there.

  • alisonwalker
    alisonwalker

    I just wrote on another article about the stupidity of judging someone's facial expression and their choice of clothing. My mother and father passed away unexpectedly, one year apart. I felt "black" and was grieving horribly but I knew in my heart that both of them would want a celebration of their lives, not a "pity party for death." Liam is Irish and the Redgraves are British...that in itself might lend one to understand their body language and grief. But you have only to see the photograph of Vanessa and Liam up close, leaving the cemetery to understand the sheer grief that family is feeling. BTW, I have read everything by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to try to understand death and the woman (and Dr. David Kessler) and what they've studied and written were an amazing source of help to me. God bless them and may God's Grace be with the Neeson/Redgrave families and friends.

  • kiki123
    kiki123

    I wore white to my father's funeral. Why are people questioning it? When I think about heaven, the first thing that comes to mind is "white". She wanted to celebrate her daughter, not grieve for her. That was my reasoning anyway.

  • Rids
    Rids

    In Hinduism, white is the color to wear to a funeral. It represents purity and the innocence of a soul leaving out body. So there is nothing wrong with Richardson's mother wearing white. And in the large scale of things, does color really even matter?

  • pinlilac
    pinlilac

    chinese people wear white from head to toe during burial

  • Ruth Cook
    Ruth Cook

    White...for angels, heaven, purity.

  • summer
    summer

    When my 95 year old granny died, the priest offered not a funeral mass but a mass of celebration for a life well lived. Death can take care of its self: we need to celebrate life.

  • Colleen
    Colleen

    Her daughter just died. She can wear whatever the hell she wants. I would much rather people wear color at my funeral than just black. I want my life to stay in people's minds more than my death.

  • hispanicatthedisco
    hispanicatthedisco

    Oh, well that explains a lot. I thought she was still trying to claim she's a virgin.

  • Halle
    Halle

    I respect Vanessa even more now, because she has the right idea about things. Death should not be so sad as so many people make it out to be. It is a part of life. It is something that must occur at some point. Instead of wearing all-black and mourning over the death of someone, you should dress colorful to represent this person's wonderful personality and life, and you should celebrate this person's life and their inspirational touch that they left on the world. Natasha is someone that will not be forgotten, and I'm sure she wouldn't want people to be sad about her death. She would much rather have people look back on the good times and laugh, and smile, and be happy for the time they spent with her. This is how people should be when people pass away. It is a part of life, and instead of mourning you should try and celebrate the deceased's great, inspirational life.

  • Halle
    Halle

    I like much better the idea of celebrating someone's beautiful, inspiring life rather than mourning over the end of it. Death is a part of life, it's moving on, and this is exactly how it should be treated. People should be content at a funeral, and celebrate the good times of the past with the deceased person, they should celebrate the inspiring touch that they left on the world... catch my drift? I respect Vanessa for being so courageous and calm as to accept what has happened, and remember Natasha as the bright, pure woman she was. My prayers go to Natasha's family and friends.

  • mdonnelly
    mdonnelly

    Well said, Angela. I think Vanessa is radiant. I imagine the white helps her cope with the immense loss of one of her children, while at the same time honoring those she touched.

  • Angela
    Angela

    I wore yellow shorts to my dads funeral and his brothers their kilts, its nothing new to be bright at a funeral.. there are too many times we are sad when someone we love passes away, the important thing is to remember their light and love and what better day to do that than their funeral, a true celebration of their life, where people they loved come together to think of and remember them. We are not sad every minute of everyday when someone dies, thank goodness, its totally normal to smile and brighten as you think of them. Lots of girls ask for people to wera pink at their funeral and its very common at children's funerals for bright colours and balloons to be part of their rememberance... Regarding Natasha, a bright light, wife, mummy, daughter sister and friend ... seemingly a life well lived and an excellent role model ... :)

  • Dee
    Dee

    Good for Vanessa! I love the shawl! People need to remember that a release from the physical body is an experience of extreme love and joy for that soul that crossed over. Natasha doesn't want somberness in her memory. She wants joy. I knew a woman who wore a bright orange scarf to her mother's memorial because her English mother told her as a child, "You don't wear black to a funeral. You wear orange. It's to celebrate their life with joy." So this daughter had to wear a bright orange dress to West Minster Abbey when she was a child. The memory made her laugh joyfully out loud -- Natasha would laugh.

  • Ann
    Ann

    White is a color of mourning in certain cultures

  • iheartcelebs
    iheartcelebs

    go vanessa!!! good for her!!