Monday, November 21, 2005

Royal Wedding Dresses

As I mentioned in my article on Royal weddings, the dress is the centerpiece of the day. I covered some history regarding the dress, however I did not go into details regarding some of the specific dreses. There have been some lovely bridal gowns. Royal wedding gowns have set trends, influenced bridal fashion. Much speculation goes into the making of these dresses, with the various designers having to take extreme measures to protect it, from white washing the windows, guarding it, locking the seamstress in a room to work on it, to burning any extra scraps of material. The dresses of Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah, Duchess of York, have been reported in great detail, so this article covers some of the lesser known ones. These are just a few of the spectacular dresses worn in the last century:

The Queen Mother's dress - 1923 - At the time, her dress was described as 'the simplest ever made for a royal wedding to date'. It was made of chiffon moire, dyed to match the colour of the point de Flanders lace veil lent by Queen Mary. It was made by the court dressmakers, Mme Handley Seymour. Almost medieval in its style, the dress had two trains, the first one attached at the waist, and extended 10 inches beyond the hem and spread 80 inches wide. The second one, made of tulle, which was fastened from the shoulders. Vogue described it as 'a medieval Italian gown". The veil was secured by a simple wreath of white heather, myrtle leaves, with knots of white roses - the emblem of the County of York - appropriate for the new Duchess of York.

Princess Elizabeth's dress - 1947. At the time the dress was made the war had just ended, but coupon rationing was still in effect. Concerned that the Princess would not have enough to make her dress, women across the country sent their coupons in; which was illegal. This dress was made by Norman Hartnell, whose design house was to make the majority of the Queen's clothing. Although he had been given less than three months to make the dress, it did not disappoint. Hartnell found his inspiration for the dress in an image of Primavera by Bottacelli. The dress was made of satin, in the princess style and the silk came from China, since using Japanese and Italian silkworms would have been unpratriotic so soon after the war. At the shoulder there were three covered loops to attach the 15 foot full court train to the shoulders. This dress had exquisite embroidery, which embodied some royal or patriotic significance.

Princess Margaret's dress - 1960- was very different from any dress that had been created before and it was stunning in it's simplicity. It was also designed by Norman Hartnell. It was made of silk organza and instead of a separate court train, the dress itself was trained. Later on, in 1999, when her son, David Linley married Serena Stanhope, her new daughter-in-law paid her a compliment by choosing a dress similar to the one worn in 1960.

Princess Anne - 1973 - Her dress was in a medieval, Tudor style, made of white silk, highnecked and pintucked to show off her tiny waist. Princess Anne conceived the design herself, wanting to get away from more traditional gowns that would have been expected of her. The dress was made by Maureen Baker, chief designer for Susan Small and remained a closely guarded secret until the wedding. The 15 girls who worked on the dress were each given one small piece to make and had no idea what the finished dress would look like. The main feature of the dress was the huge trumpet sleeves, tucked into the elbow and flared out over fine chiffon. Sleeves were a big feature of the seventies, but comparing this dress to current bridal fashion, these sleeves give the dress a somewhat dated look. The neckline and shoulders were embroidered with pearls, and pearls of silver thread picked out a design of flowers on the long, pure silk gauze train.

Avoiding comparison with other royal brides, Sophie Rhys-Jones wore a sleek panelled long dress-coat. and an ivory silk train. It was made from hand-dyed silk organza and hand-dyed silk crepe, embroidered with a total of 325,000 cut-glass and pearl beads. It was designed by Samantha Shaw, previously unknown up to that point. The dress has a medieval feel and it is V-necked and corseted. The veil was also sewn with beads, and was longer than the train itself.

Camilla is the only royal bride, at least in recent history, to wear two dresses on her wedding day. Both dressses were designed by Robinson Valentine.

Her first dress for the civil ceremony was an elegant, oyster silk embroidered coat, over a chiffon dress of the same color, embroidered, stylish and very age appropriate. Unlike other royal brides, Camilla wore a hat to her ceremony.

To the blessing, she wore a full length porcelain blue silk dress with a hand painted designs, and embroidered with gold thread work. Her headdress consisted of gold leafed feathers tipped with Swarovski Diamonds

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.


Dawno said...

What a lovely post! I could stare at those dresses all day. You have a great blog, full of fun details and well written. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

you label it diana but, she isnt represented in the post?

Marilyn Braun said...

Well, she is mentioned in both this post and the Royal Weddings post! :)

youblog said...

Look out Kate!

LoRo said...

I really enjoyed learning about all of the previous royal wedding dresses! I think Kate surpassed all other royal brides. I'm not usually a fan of sleeves but the lace was gorgeous. Also I thought the veil was stunning. Although Kate looked great, I thought Pippa Middleton's dress stole the show. Kate was so nice to let her sister where this dress, because I would never want anyone to outshine me on my big day!