Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Royal Wedding Gowns: A Look Back Through The Years!

Wedding Couture

In honor of Friday's Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine "Kate" Middleton, I have decided to do a posting on all the wonderful Royal Weddings of the past and, of course, what they wore! I hope you enjoy seeing all the wonderful ensembles as much as I I included a little Couture Dish!

Grace of Monaco: Helen Rose

Prince Rainer and Grace of Monaco
--in a Helen Rose (an MGM Costume Designer) gown. Edith Head--Hollywood Costume Designer for the A-List of the time (and of Kelly) was reportedly saddened to not have been picked, for this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. COUTURE DISH: The gown was worked on by six seamstress at MGM and 30 million people around the world watched it. The gown has remained THE SYMBOL--and ruler-- of what a "Royal Wedding Gown" should be. Elegant, timeless, classic, serene, and above all, royal. Guests of the wedding included actresses Gloria Swanson and Eva Gardner, the Agha Khan, and many others.

Princess Caroline: Christian Dior Haute Couture by Marc Bohan

Their eldest daughter, Princess Caroline wore Christian Dior Haute Couture by then House Designer, Marc Bohan, when she married Commoner--and French Playboy--Philipe Junot, in 1978. The gown featured a high neck, scalloped edge embroidered gown, bishop sleeves and blouson top. I especially remember (I was VERY YOUNG!) how modern she looked with ringlets of flowers--a la Princess Leia--in her hair--as opposed to wearing a tiara or crown.

Queen Elizabeth: Norman Hartnell

Queen Elizabeth
(then Princess Elizabeth of York) and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh (then Prince of Greece and Denmark--he's actually German and Danish but born in Greece). Her wedding gown was designed by British designer Norman Hartnell. COUTURE DISH: The Queen Mother had specifically asked that Hartnell should use an unusually rich, lustrous stiff satin which was made at Lullington Castle. The satin was ideal for the train, but Hartnell thought that the dress required a more supple material of a similar tone. He ordered the similar fabric from the Scottish firm of Winterthur. Difficulties arose when rivals put about the rumor that the Scottish satin was made from "enemy silk worms", either from Italy or possibly Japan. A telephone call to the town where Winterthur was based, settled the scandal. Mr. Hartnell was assured the silk worms were from Nationalist China and were not "enemy silk worms". Good to know...

Princess Diana: Elizabeth Emanuel

Continuing with the Brits: Prince Charles and Diana
in 1981: Her gown was designed by British designer Elizabeth Emanuel is iconic, of course, especially for its infamous 25 foot (wrinkled) silk taffeta train. COUTURE DISH: The entire gown--including the train and veil--were comprised of (wait for it), 275 total yards. The gown epitomized the excess that were to be the 80's.

Princess Anne: Maureen Baker

Another gown I loved was the one Princess Anne (only daughter of Queen Elizabeth) wore when she wed then-Lieutenant Mark Phillips (he was soooo handsome!!) in 1973. The gown was inspired from the Medieval and Tudor styles. It was very "Lady Macbeth Gets Married".

The gown--designed by Maureen Baker, head designer for Susan Small--featured Trumpet sleeves that hid inner Bishop Sleeves (FIERCE!), as you can see above. COUTURE DISH: Fifteen women worked on the dress and each worked on a different section, and they didn't know what the final outcome would look like--this was done for fear that the design would be "leaked" to the press by one of these girls.

Wallis Simpson: Mainbocher

Of course, when speaking of Wedding Couture, we can't leave out the Mainbocher gown worn by Wallis Simpson when she married Edward, Duke of Windsor (also Prince Edward, King Edward XIII of course) in 1937. This pale blue gown and hat--have gone down in history as the epitome of understated chic. The groom wore a Morning Suit, of course. There were only sixteen guests, not one a member of the royal family.

Princess Margaret: Norman Hartnell

Then , there was the Fashionista and "Party Girl" Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (Queen Elizabeth's sister) and her wedding to Anthony Armstrong-Jones. Her gown was designed and created by the house of Norman Hartnell--same designer who created her sister's wedding gown.This was also the first royal wedding ever televised, and was watched by over 300 million viewers worldwide!Empress/Shahbanu Soraya of Iran: Christian Dior by Yves Saint Laurent

I also absolutely LOVE the wedding gown worn by Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari (of German-Persian descent) , who would become Empress and Shahbanu Soraya of Iran when she married the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (his second marriage) in 1951. She wore a a custom gown designed by Yves Saint Laurent for the House of Christian Dior.

COUTURE DISH: The gown was a silver lame gown studded with pearls and marabou stork feathers (!). To finish the gown, there was a cropped shawl-collar jacket AND a full-length white mink cape which she removed for "let-me-sit-down-and-breathe" photos. Poor Soraya (who was rumored to always have been the Shah's love of his life) soon discovered she could not give him a male heir (she was infertile) and therefore, divorced seven years after their wedding, but was left with a nice you-can-live-forever-in-style bank account.

Queen Sofia of Spain: Jean Dessès

Next of note was Queen Sofia's (then Princess Sophia of Greece) Wedding Gown--designed by Egyptian-born of Greek descent fashion designer Jean Dessès--when she married the future King of Spain Juan Carlos in Athens Greece to much fanfare.

Marie Chantal of Greece: Valentino Haute Couture

Speaking of Greeks, here's Crown Prince Pavlos and his bride, Marie Chantal Miller. Marie Chantal is of US-Ecuadorian ancestry and Pavlos, the son of the exiled King of the Hellenes (Greece), Constantine II, is well, of Danish-German (and not so much Greek) descent. Constantine II is Queen Sofia's (see previous wedding gown pic) brother--yes, keep up!! By the way, the Bride's gown was from Valentino Haute Couture. Don't mess with them darlings!

Maria y Carmen Martinez-Bordiu: Cristobal Balenciaga

Now onto another fabulous Royal Wedding Gown of note. This gown is from Maria y Carmen Martinez-Bordiu y Franco when she wed Alfonso, Duke of Anjou and Cadiz and Grandson of King Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1972. General Franco made him Duke of Anjou and making him a Royal Highness, thereby making her a Princess: Can you say "At-a Girl!" in Spanish?? Momma didn't raise a fool!
COUTURE DISH: Her gown was designed by Cristobal Balenciaga. The Spanish Couturier ended his business in 1968 but came out of "retirement" to design her gown. It featured 14 meters of Abraham silk, 20 silk thread spools, 10,000 pearls, and over 5,000 sequins. It also had the Bourbon "Fleur-de-lis" embroidered into the front of this one-of-a-kind Haute Couture hand-made gown.

The future Queen Noor of Jordan's wedding dress is notable for it's elegant simplicity. It was a blouson gown, with no crinoline, no petticoat, no tulle. This is how you do "restrained" and unfussy, but still beautiful.

Queen Rania of Jordan: Bruce Oldfield

At the opposite end, was Queen Rania of Jordan's wedding gown to King Abdullah II. Her gown was designed by British designer Bruce Oldfield (a name that has been thrown around as a possible candidate for Catherine Middleton's wedding dress designer) and not by a Middle Eastern designer, which was odd.

Princess Maxima of the Netherlands: Valentino Haute Couture

Moving on to the New Generation of Royals--and their Wedding COUTURE: A gorgeous Valentino Haute Couture creation can be seen on Princes Maxima of the Netherlands when she wed Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, and heir apparent to the throne of the Netherlands. Maxima is from Argentina darlings, in case you weren't aware. South American girl done did good, as they say...The Netherlands will have an South American-born Queen sometime in the future.

Princess Mette-Marit of Norway: Ove Harder Finseth

Staying in Scandinavia: There was the wedding gown of Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. Ove Harder Finseth was the designer. I loved this gown for its elegant simplicity. The shape was perfect for Mette-Marit's lean figure and again, as one of the "Next Generation Royals", I love that she chose to do without the Disneyland Princess Crinoline-and-Petticoat Ball Gown "Princes Diana" silhouette. Norwegians know how to give you "Directional Modern Brides" for sure!

Princess Letizia of Spain: Manuel Pertegaz

I also LOVED Princess Letizia of Spain's wedding gown when she married Crown Prince Felipe in 2004. It was designed by 93-year old (yes, 93!!) Spanish Designer Manuel Pertegaz. I'm sure his "staff" had a lot to do with this and he probably sat there and said "Si!" and "No!". Letizia’s beige Valencia silk wedding dress was graceful and Medieval in its silhouette. It featured long sleeves, a decorative stand-away collar, veil and skirt embroidered with flower-de-luce and ears of wheat. Her wedding dress was 4.6 meters long!!

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden: Par Engsheden

And last but not least in my Royal Wedding Couture Nick Verreos Hall of Fame, I have to include the gorgeous gown worn by Victoria Crown Princess of Sweden. The silk fit-and-flare gown was designed by Swedish designer Par Engsheden. Simple. Elegant. Sublime. The stunning crown and lace veil finish it off. THAT is a future Queen ladies and gentlemen.

Now....Which one was your FAVORITE Royal Wedding Gown???

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