Welcome our Royal Wedding Gown summer series, where we look at royal gowns from a different perspective. Today we’ll talk about how the venue of royal weddings can influence the design of the dress. In the previous entry to this series, we discussed how heirloom lace can transform an ordinary gown to a royal gown.
Most royals are not getting married on the beach or in a village church, but in historic and royal spaces. In some cases, very grand spaces. The dress designer is often tasked with providing a dress to stand up to such surroundings. Let’s take a look at three brides and how their dresses reflected the venue of their weddings.
Bride: Marie Chantal Miller
Dress Designer: Valentino
Venue: St. Sophia Cathedral, London
(Photo of St. Sophia: by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0″)
(Photo of Marie Chantal by Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44115827)
St Sophia is a Greek Orthodox Church built in a Byzantine Revival design. The interior is an explosion of color and intricate design. When Valentino was tapped for the design, he probably looked around at the venue, rolled up his sleeves, and set to designing a dress to stand up to the mosaics and intricate tiling. The designer delivered a heavy ivory silk dress with rose appliques, a lace bodice – with twelve different kinds of lace – and sleeves decorated with floral motifs. The bride borrowed the Antique Corsage Tiara from Queen Anne-Marie to attach her 4 and 1/2 meter long Chantilly lace veil. The veil was finished with a scalloped edge and butterfly embroidery. It is a very complicated bridal ensemble, and some say it overwhelms the delicate bride, but it holds up to the intricately designed interior of the church.
Bride: Lady Helen Taylor
Dress Designer: Catherine Walker
Venue: St. George’s Chapel, Windsor
St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle is designed in the high-medieval Gothic style. Catherine Walker was inspired by the soaring arches in the chapel, and created a dress for Lady Helen that reflects the architecture in its wide neckline and sleeves. The cathedral length train and the full skirt filled some of the wide aisle space in the chapel. Helen chose some dramatic jewelry that also gave a nod to the venue: a diamond and pearl necklace, matching earrings, and a modified fringe tiara of diamonds and pearls. The designer added the embroidery to the dress after learning of the bride’s jewelry choices. Altogether, the ensemble is unique, and a gorgeous reflection of the environment.
Bride: Princess Madeleine of Sweden
Dress Designer: Valentino
Venue: Royal Chapel, Stockholm Palace, Sweden
(Royal Chapel By Holger.Ellgaard – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14663353) (Princess Madeleine and Chris O’Neill Photo credit: Ewa-Marie Rundquist, Swedish Royal Court
The Royal Chapel’s design was completed in the mid 1700s. The sculptures, statues and ceiling paintings were produced by the foremost craftsmen of the period. The predominant feel of the chapel is ornate, but filled with light. The primary color is white, with gold accents. Valentino, a practiced purveyor of royal gowns at this point, designed a dress for Madeleine that reflected the light and romantic overtones of the chapel. The gown was made of silk organza with ivory-colored Chantilly lace. The a wide skirt, rimmed with a deep ruffle, flowed a four-meter train. Her veil was also silk organza, edged with tulle and small lace orange blossoms. Princess Madeleine chose to wear the Modern Fringe Tiara, but I believe that traditional Cameo Tiara might have tied this look to the venue event even more strongly. Still, the hyper-feminine effect melded beautifully with the summer day in the light filled chapel.