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Madonna Interview : Vogue

It was McCartney who created Madonna’s 2000 wedding dress. “You wanna see it?” she asks conspiratorially, struggling with a vast ivory vellum tome filled with the pictures the world’s media didn’t get to see: “No one’s seen these pictures except my closest friends.” For the record, McCartney produced a remarkably classical dress of ivory duchesse satin, with an hourglass eighteenth-century corset bodice (“a real boob squisher!” laughs Madonna) and an acreage of crinoline skirts dramatically billowing into an endless train. The nineteenth-century lace veil was found in an antiques market and secured with Grace Kelly’s Cartier tiara. Mr. Ritchie wore a kilt. “You can’t get married in Scotland and not wear a kilt,” says Madonna, who later put kilted pipers in her show. “It’s like, ‘Don’t show me things – you never know what’s gonna show up in one of my shows!'” laughs Madonna. “But I love to work that way.”

Madonna - Vogue / August 2005

Since her marriage brought her here, Madonna has become England’s latest national treasure; the nation even has its own pet name for her – Madge – a parallel honor to the satirical weekly Private Eye’s anointing Queen Elizabeth “Brenda.” “I did hate it when they first started calling me that,” Madonna confides, “and then a friend told me that it was short for ‘Your Majesty,’ so I was ‘OK. I like it!’ Well, anyway,” she adds, “they’re stuck with me!”

It was not always a love affair. Madonna’s first trip to London in 1982, with her friend, dancer Martin Burgoyne, was financed by their bartending jobs at New York’s East Village bar Lucky Strike. “We used to rob the cash register blind!” she says matter-of-factly. When they had saved enough to hit London, “we went out to some nightclubs, and I met Boy George in the [Vivienne Westwood] World’s End stuff. He was just this force to be reckoned with, and I was very intimidated,” Madonna remembers. “He was really mean to me… he’s still mean to me!” Nevertheless, Madonna “found the whole thing quite heady. I couldn’t believe how seriously everybody took their looks and fashion and stuff – it was all very exciting and, yes, influential to a certain extent.”

But by the time Madonna returned a year later, she was riding the crest of her first success, and her relationship with the country unraveled. “Once I became famous I couldn’t stand London, because the press was so horrible to me,” she explains. “I didn’t understand the whole mentality of the tabloids; I thought, God, they’re so vicious. And this place was really different 20 years ago. Everything was closed up. The streets were dead on Sundays. There were no good restaurants. It was a very, very, very different place, and I had absolutely no inkling that I would have the life I have here [now].”

Since she met Guy Ritchie, the “scope of my world has changed,” she continues. “At the time, I didn’t see the funny side of it, but now I love England and want to be here and not in America. I see England as my home. And I now know how to ride. I know how to shoot. I know how to fish. I could be a connoisseur of ales if I wanted to – I never used to like the stuff, but when you’re married to Guy Ritchie you spend a lot of time in pubs, and I learned to like it!” Of her marriage she says, “The whole point of being in a relationship and having children is that you learn to love… unconditionally. That’s the best contribution to making the world a better place. It’s so nice sometimes just to go into my children’s bedrooms and listen to them breathe. It has forced me to get out of myself.”

It was Trudie Styler who played cupid when Madonna was invited for tea to her Jacobean mansion in Wiltshire. Here she remembers the “long, sweeping staircase… [where] all of her children were lined up – like the von Trapp family! I went down the line meeting them all, and then at the end of the line was Guy.” Madonna was stopped dead in her tracks by the strapping 30-year-old auteur of the nouvelle vague gangster movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, an eye-popping directorial debut. (This, together with his sometime Mockney accent – think Michael Caine in Alfie – belies a respectably patrician past. Ritchie cherishes fond boyhood memories of Loton Park, his stepfather Sir Michael Leighton’s estate, on the Welsh borders, where he developed his passion for hunting and fishing.) Of this first electric meeting Madonna admits simply, “My whole life flashed before me. It did.”