Britain · Monaco · Spain

Royal Wedding Gowns – Fatigue-Defying Lace

Welcome our Royal Wedding Gown series, where we look at royal gowns from a different perspective. Today we are tackling everyone’s favorite subject, lace fatigue, and defying it with gowns that do lace right.

Previous entries in this series can be found in the Recurring Feature section, Weddings, found under “Find that Post!” in the header bar.

Bride: Beatrice Borromeo
Designer: Giorgio Armani Privé

Yes, Beatrice Borromeo had five wedding dresses and heaven knows how many other changes of clothes over her wedding weekend. The one we are focusing on is the religious ceremony wedding dress, a dreamy, flowing vision of a lace gown.

The wedding between Beatrice Borromeo and Pierre Casiraghi is best described as aristocratic and royal adjacent, not truly royal, but one thing really lept out at me. The groom was besotted with his bride, and who can blame him? Just look at her in that dress. She is a lace fever dream. The ivory Armani Privé dress sported a flared silhouette in Chantilly lace and layers of silk chiffon, which flowed and moved with the bride as she walked. The open neckline dropped to a deep-V in the back, and was fastened with a row of buttons. She finished the look with a delicate silk tulle veil attached with sparkly hair ornaments.

Bride: Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark
Designer: Jean Dessès

The wedding of Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark and Prince Juan Carlos of Spain was truly royal, uniting two European houses (although Spain had yet to return to a monarchy). Many of the European royal houses represented in the bridal party, so the whole shebang was quite the occasion. The dress itself had to represent royalty with a capital R.

Princess Sofia requested that her gown be sewn by Greek seamstresses, and they delivered a beautifully constructed dress of tulle and lace on a silver-white lamé base. The open neckline, 3/4 length sleeves and split skirt add design interest without overwhelming the bride. It’s a lace extravaganza, imperfectly rendered in the period photographs.

Fortunately, the dress has been on display in the Museum of Palace Life in Aranjuez. We can get a better look at the back of the gown in particular, with that spectacular train that extended from her shoulders for 20 (!) feet. It, too, was covered with tulle, and more lace. She anchored her veil with the Prussian Diamond tiara on loan from her mother, Queen Frederica.

Bride: Catherine Middleton
Designer: Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen

This dress worn by Catherine Middleton at her wedding to Prince William needs no introduction or explanation. It has been widely photographed and extensively discussed. It would be no exaggeration to say it was one of the most, if not the most, anticipated royal wedding gowns of the last twenty years.

Embed from Getty Images

As lacey as the dress appeared on first viewing, much of the lace detail was not that apparent on the television screen, particularly the appliques on the skirt, underskirt and bodice. The bodice incorporated floral motifs cut from machine-made lace,  in a style influenced by traditional Carrickmacross lace. The entire dress was fabricated from white satin gazar. The impeccably tailored bodice opened into a full skirt with padded hips and a bustle, flowing into a 270 cm train. She attached her chapel length veil with the Cartier Halo tiara.

Bride: Grace Kelly
Designer: Helen Rose

Embed from Getty Images

I debated even including this one because it’s almost beyond discussing at this point. Since everyone knows it very well, I’ll hit the high points. Point 1: The dress was a gift from MGM, and designed by a Hollywood costume designer. This makes it more of a set piece rather than a wedding dress, but it served its purpose to such a degree it’s become iconic. Point 2: It’s not a dress at all. Skirt, train, bodice and cummerbund are all separate pieces. The whole thing is supported by a corset and two petticoats. Point 3: The dress materials included “twenty-five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk net, peau de soie, tulle, and 125 year old Brussels lace”.

Which is your favorite Royal lace wedding gown?