Welcome our Royal Wedding Gown summer series, where we look at royal gowns from a different perspective. Today we’ll talk about the use of sparkle and reflective material in royal gowns. After all, when a girl is married in a massive venue in front of lots of folks straining to see her, she’s gotta glow, you know?
Previous entries in this series include: Danish Heirloom Lace , Royal Wedding Venues, Venue Size and Scale, Historical and Artistic References, Orange Blossoms, and British Embroidery.
Bride: Princess Charlotte of Wales
Designer: Lost to History
The British “It Girl” of the 1810s was the wildly popular heir to the throne, Princess Charlotte of Wales. On May 2, 1816, she married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld , who later became King of the Belgians. Weddings, even royal weddings, were far smaller and more private than today. This ceremony followed the custom of a typical private, quiet Regency affair (although the groom was set upon by a happy mob on the journey there), but the Princess’ dress was anything but simple.
The empire style gown with a wide, open neckline had short sleeves and a small train. The dress was elaborately constructed and consisted of a white and silver slip, which was worn under a transparent dress completely embellished with shells and bouquets, embroidered in silver lamé. To increase her royal glow, the Princess wore a diamond necklace, bracelet, earrings and diamond rosebuds in her hair. Yes, you read that last part correctly. I am not sure I can think of a more royal sparkle fest.
Bride: Katharine Mary Worsley
Designer: John Cavanagh
It’s amazing to look back and realize what an insanely big deal the marriage of Katharine Worsley and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent was at the time. Granted, the groom was the grandson of a King, but this wedding was also a social event outside the British royal circle. Noel Coward and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. were among the guests, as were members of the British, Greek, Danish, Norwegian, Yugoslavian, Romanian and Spanish royal families. The marriage took place on June 8, 1961, at York Minster, which hadn’t seen a royal wedding in 633 years.
The bride responded by wearing a gown that truly lit up the place. The fabric was “patterned and pearlized” so that it would glow softly. It was also a lot of glow, since 237 yards of diaphanous French white silk gauze were used in the very large skirt and train. The bodice was fitted to make the silhouette less overwhelming. The entire effect must have shone in the interior of the very large wedding venue, making the bride a very royal focus in the proceedings.
Bride: Countess Stephanie de Lannoy
Designer: Elie Saab
We joke about crusty Saabs here, but truly, what contemporary designer packs more sparkle into their design? When Stephanie de Lannoy married Prince Guillaume in October of 2012, she stepped out in front of the cathedral twinkling and sparkling like a star from above.
This dress was loaded with lace, crystal, beads, and tulle. The numbers tell it all. 50 meters of Chantilly lace. 40 meters of Calais lace. 50,000 pearls. 80,000 crystals. 10,000 meters of silver embroidery thread. 200 pieces of transparent glitter. All on a dress that was massive: the skirt fell into a 2.5-meter train, and a 4-meter train flowed from the waist. Add to that the tulle veil that extended over the longest train. This was a true commitment to sparkle, loaded on a dress that was fit for a royal walking down the aisle of a major cathedral. I don’t expect to see this ever topped, although maybe someone will take it as a challenge ; ).