Welcome to Defense of the Dress, where we debate the merits of royal dresses that were divisive at first, second, or third look.
One of our friends here at The Handbag suggested Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau as a subject. That opened the door to many, many options. For those of you unfamiliar with the Dutch royals, Princess Mabel is the widow of the second son of Princess Beatrix, Prince Friso. Mabel does not shy away from sartorial controversy. On the contrary, she embraces it.
All of the wives of Orange-Nassau have distinct styles, and Princess Mabel is the most distinct of the distinct. Today we’ll take on her big debut, her wedding gown appearance.
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Viktor & Rolf designed the wedding gown, and they delivered a fitted silhouette, double-faced duchesse satin dress, with a bateau neckline, long, slim sleeves, and a slightly flared skirt. The train is attached at the waist, and is about 10 feet long. All of this sounds very nice and very conservative until you consider that they included a few bows, if by few you mean 248.
The breakdown? Skirt, 128; bodice, 85; train, 35. Each and every one is made by hand of crepe georgette, and attached to a trellis pattern that covers the garment entirely, making it look seamless. The bows increase in size from top to bottom, until, at the bottom edge of the train, you are looking at some serious bow-age.
She wore a full, short veil and a diamond sunray tiara, which used large diamonds from the Dutch Sapphire tiara.
The Case for the Dress
The Handbag: There is no denying it’s a lot of dress; there is also no denying that it is unforgettable. I love the slim fit of the bodice and the shape of the skirt. I love the short veil, which I find an inspired choice with such a complicated design on the gown. The same for the simple hairstyle and the choice of jewels, which at first glance seem rather scattered but work as a whole. As for the bows, they are pure Mabel. An inspired and unusual design for a bride with an unusual style.
OC: I’m in. It took me a few years, but I’m in. It is perfect for her figure and suitably more for a royal wedding. Still can’t help but wish the bows didn’t get quite as large towards the end, but I get it. Girl needed to power up and her go-to designers made her shine.
The Case Against the Dress
LG: First off, I love Mabel, I really do (honestly go follow her on social media, she is definitely a force for good in the world). I don’t love this gown though (or many of her clothes…). I do like the dress under all of those bows, and I even like most of the bows, but when you get to the gigantic bows on the skirt you lose me. From the neck up, she is perfection!
LIL: I love Mabel so I really want to love this. But nope. Can’t do it. Too much everything. But like LG said, she looks great from the neck up. In fact, I’ll even go as far as to say she looks great from the waist up. And if the bows had stopped after the waistband in favor of a plain skirt and train? I’d love it hands down.