We are back to Old School Designer Diaries this week with a look at a beloved Norwegian institution. Make sure to scroll through to the comments to see Baguette Sar’s contribution about Princess Ragnhild’s gown!
Molstad & Co (1883-1980) was Norway’s large and most exclusive department store, employing trained Scandinavian artisans and designers. For a hundred years, they supplied Norway’s wealthy women with the latest in ladies’ fashion. Molstad artisans would often create licensed copies of designs from famous Parisian design houses, but the company also employed Norwegian designers.
First located in Karl Johans Gate 22, the company grew rapidly and eventually moved to a larger building in Kongens Gate 22. Starting with Crown Princess Martha, Norwegian royal women turned to Molstad when they wanted a Norwegian design. Many of these designs have been archived in Nasjonalmuseet.
The largest collection of royal dresses from Molstad is from Queen Sonja. The most famous of them is her bridal gown, which is typically Scandinavian – and typically sixties – in its simplicity. What strikes me the most about the evening gowns are the clean lines and the very deep, pure colors.
Crown Princess Märtha
The gown below was designed by Molstad for Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha’s silver wedding anniversary, scheduled to be celebrated on March 21, 1954. The Crown Princess, who had been suffering from poor health for a long time, was instead hospitalized at Rikshospitalet. Märtha died a few weeks later, on April 5, 1954. You can read more about this poignant story here.
The beautiful gown silk gown, with embroidery added in Paris, can be seen at the National Museum.
The Princess served as the “first lady of Norway” for many years between her father, King Olav’s, succession in 1957 to then-Prince Harald’s marriage to Sonja Haraldsen in 1968. The Princess wore many Molstad creations, some of which have found their way to the National Museum. She loved her point d’esprit and silver-embroidered lace wedding gown so much that she re-purposed and re-wore it!
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