Monday, May 31, 2010

Royal Focus: Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York's wedding dress

When asked about her wedding dress in 1986, Sarah Ferguson said "there will never be a dress to match it." And to date she has been correct. 

Her dress was designed by Lindka Cierach and was made from heavy ivory duchess satin, which was manufactured at Britain's only silk farm, Lullingstone near Sherborne in Dorset.The fabric was chosen because, according to Sarah 'it is the creamiest material in the world. It never creases. It is as smooth as glass and hangs beautifully.'

The champagne color of the dress flattered the bride's hair and skin tone. The design had a renaissance silhouette and the fitted, boned bodice had a dropped waist coming into a point at the front and a lower 'V' at the back. The neckline was gently curved and edged with pearls. The sleeves were full, coming into a simple pearl-edged point just below the elbow. 

The skirt was flat in front, widening on the sides and full at the back. The 17 1/2 foot train flowed from beneath a fan shaped bow and the underskirt was bordered by a silk scalloped lace flounce billowing out the heavy sheen of the satin skirt. The designer's hallmark - heavy beading - was most strikingly evident on the train and was based on Sarah's Coat-of-Arms.  Worked in seed pearls and diamante, the train was embroidered with thistles, bees and hearts and in a nod to Prince Andrew's naval career, anchors, and waves. Rising in a scale at the bottom of the train, a heraldic 'A' led into a double 'S'.  The pure silk tulle veil had scalloped edging and was embroidered with true lover's knots and shimmered with sequins. The total number of bugle beads, sequins, crystals pearls and stones on the wedding dress amounted to 155,000.

The satin shoes were designed by Manolo Blahnik and beaded with bees and ribbons in pearls and diamonds. She wore a necklace of cultured pearls intertwined with 18 carat gold and a diamond pearl pendant. She wore a headdress off fresh flowers - roses, lily petals , gardenias (Andrew's favorite flower) and lilies-of-the-valley. At the end of the ceremony the headdress was removed to reveal a diamond tiara, symbolic of her metamorphosis from commoner to royal. As Sarah recalled 'I had stepped up as the country girl; I would walk back as a princess.'

In her hands Sarah carried an "S' shaped spray of cream lilies, palest yellow roses, gardenias, lilies of the valley and the traditional sprig of myrtle.  

© Marilyn Braun 2010

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