Dream royal gowns fit for a princess
EVERY BRIDE FEELS THE PRESSURE OF CHOOSING A DRESS THAT WILL STAND UP TO MOTHER-IN-LAW LEVEL SCRUTINY. BUT WHEN YOUR CHOICE COULD ALTER THE COURSE OF FASHION AROUND THE WORLD THE STAKES ARE A LITTLE HIGHER. KERRY PARNELL TAKES A LOOK AT THE ROYAL WEDDING
VICTORIA’S WHITE WEDDING
Queen Victoria made white dresses fashionable when she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840. Until then, brides had picked bright colours, especially gold. Victoria chose white, not to reflect purity but to show off the lace on the dress, helping the British lace industry. She also decreed nobody else could wear it at the wedding. Ever since, brides have usually worn white and guests have not.
QUEEN MOTHER’S FLAPPER STYLE
Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon’s directional dress made fashion history when she wed Prince Albert, Duke of York in 1923. Her loose-fitting frock by Madame Handley-Seymour and simple Juliette-cap veil was considered the height of fashion.
THE QUEEN’S RATIONED FROCK
Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten in 1947, when post-war rationing was in force, so her dress, for which she used coupons, was modest. Designed by Norman Hartnell, the long-sleeved gown did however include 10,000 pearls and a 3.9 metre train which set royal wedding trends for decades.
WALLIS SIMPSON’S BLUES
When Wallis Simpson married Edward, Duke of Windsor, in 1937, she wore a stunning crepe silk Mainbocher gown in duck egg blue, a shade specially dyed to match her eyes and titled ‘Wallis Blue’. Although an unpopular woman, she topped the best dressed lists for the rest of her life.
GRACE KELLY’S MASTERPIECE
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco’s wedding in 1956 was the stuff of fairytales, her dress included. She wore a gown by MGM costumer Helen Rose, and the lace bodice and taffeta skirt became the most famous wedding dress of its time, inspiring brides for years, including Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
MARY MAKES HER MARK
Australia’s own princess, Mary Donaldson, married Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, in 2004 and her ivory satin scoop-neck gown with dramatic sleeves was designed by Uffe Frank. Simple but elegant, it marked a trend for the return to sleeves.
QUEEN FABIOLA’S FASHION MOMENT
Although not a royal many have heard of, Fabiola de Mora y Aragón’s Balenciaga dress for her 1960 wedding to King Baudouin of Belgium is regarded as a masterpiece. It had a high neck, long sleeves, a seven-metre train and was trimmed in ermine. The dress was so heavy, she almost fainted during the ceremony.
PRINCESS DIANA’S DRAMATIC DRESS
When Diana Spencer married Prince Charles in 1981 she wanted to make a statement and her dress certainly did. Her enormous Emanuel taffeta frock, famously crushed by the coach ride, had giant puff-sleeves and frills of antique lace, with a 7.6 metre train embroidered with 10,000 pearls and sequins. For the rest of the 1980s, brides would sport puff-sleeved gowns.
PRINCESS MARGARET’S SIMPLE STATEMENT
When Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960, her subtle silk organza dress, designed by Norman Hartnell, was dubbed “the simplest royal wedding gown in history” by Life Magazine. The princess-silhouette and tiara, however, were adored by other brides-to-be.
The world’s eyes were on Kate Middleton when she married Prince William in 2011 and her dress did not disappoint. Like Mary, she chose long-sleeves, which completely killed off the fashion for strapless gowns. And like Grace Kelly, she embraced lace with a design by Alexander McQueen. Unlike Diana, she went for a modest 2.7 metre train.