a royal wedding; the evolution of the dress
So, it’s #RoyalWedding Saturday, everyone!
The day when Prince Harry – everyone’s favorite royal bad boy – weds American actress, Meghan Markle, has finally arrived.
And after much speculation about many of the wedding details – from guests in attendance, to [probably the most important] who and what will Ms. Markle wear to walk down the aisle?
Now, I’m sure most of your timelines are flooded with images and opinions of the dress and many of the fabulously dressed attendees – Amal Clooney wins #BestDressed from me – I’m going to talk about the SYMBOLISM of the dress.
The Royal Family is so important to not only the British people, but also members of the Commonwealth – as a link between the past and present, a symbol of continuity and fortitude, and as a social barometer of sorts.
And as you can imagine, this family is no stranger to being in the public eye…and as a result, I’m quite positive that a lot of thought goes into most, if not every, of the fashion choices that they make.
Case in point!
Queen E. chose to wear a shocking lime green outfit today, accented with purples and lemons and grays.
Random? Not so much….
Bright green is viewed as a symbol of growth and rebirth and is often an indicator of respect and intention for the future.
Of course, many analysts see this as a sign of approval toward her grandson’s new wife!
She similarly wore a pale yellow outfit to the 2011 wedding of William and Kate Middleton – yellow a sign of celebration, optimism, and gaiety.
But I digress….
Shall we talk dress?
So in 1940, a 20-year old Queen Victoria chose to wear white for her marriage to Prince Albert.
At the time, white was not a popular color choice for brides-to-be, but at the insistence of her advisors, she chose to highlight the handmade lace that adorned her dress.
In fact, Queen Victoria can also be credited for the “rule” that guests shouldn’t wear white to a wedding, as she was so excited to marry the man of her dreams that she forbid those attending from wearing white to the ceremony so as to not detract from her.
Queen Elizabeth, was wed in 1947, right at the end of the Second World War.
As a sign of austerity and because clothing was still paid for with rations, her dress was actually paid for with wartime coupons – the queen saving for the big day, with a gift of 200 extra from the government.
Her cream-colored dress, designed by British designer, Sir Norman Hartnell, combined 10,000 seed pearls, ornate silk, and a 15-ft veil, and was inspired by Botticelli’s “Primavera” which was meant to invoke a spirit of rebirth after the Great War.
Diana’s 1981 dress, on the other hand, was excessively extravagant – haha is that redundant?? That is to tell you just how lavish this gown was.
A symbol of sexuality and grandiosity, the gown was also covered in 10,000 pearls, hand embroidery, sequins, and lace which had belonged to Queen Mary.
Designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel, the dress was meant to be dramatic, make an impression and was intended to go down in history. And that it did!
Regarded as one of the most closely guarded secrets, the designers had to install special blinds at their studio as due to Diana’s growing public influence, paparazzi surrounded the studio, and went as far as rifling through the trash to gain any clues to what the Princess might wear.
In fact, Diana had a spare dress commissioned in case her dress’ design was revealed before the day! Talk about excessive!
Kate Middleton’s 2011 dress was also eagerly anticipated!
The pressure was on, as all eyes were on Kate, the soon-to-be Duchess of Cambridge who would eventually be the Queen.
Would it be an extravagant gown à la Diana? Or more on the conservative side?
Designed by Sarah Burton from British label, Alexander McQueen, Kate opted for a traditional silhouette with modern elegance, a symbol of her entry into the family, and maybe insight into her values as would-be Queen?
Comparisons were drawn between her dress and those before her, in that it combined the color of Queen Victoria’s, the skirt silhouette and pleats of Queen Elizabeth’s, placement of lace and veil of Grace Kelly, and the overall silhouette and train of Princess Margaret’s.
Also, in homage to Diana, she had a blue ribbon sewn into her dress – much like Diana did when she married Prince Charles.
And finally, Meghan Markle’s.
With many speculating that she this mixed-race, once divorced, American actress would shake up a stoic and traditional family, Ms. Markle wore a classically clean gown – which has been interpreted as a sign of respect to the traditions and pomp and circumstance into which she has now married.
Of course, there are no nods to the past here as Ms. Markle carves her own place not only in the Royal Family but also in the history books.
Now, didn’t I tell you lots of thought goes into this??
Anyway, we wish the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex all the best as they continue into married life!