On May 4 in Fashion History…

(A random smattering of neat things that happened On This Day In Fashion…)

…in 1938, Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna weds Prince Louis Ferdinand in three ceremonies and three dresses. Elsa Schiaparelli created “the bulk” of the bride’s trousseau, including an evening wedding dress of heavy lamé in frosted silver, cut low in the back and high in the front with a richly encrusted and embroidered bodice, and a two-piece “getaway” ensemble (the princess drove the couple’s car) of heavy brown silk with flecked stripes in red, blue and yellow, and a primrose-yellow tweed topcoat. (The Schiaparelli dress was worn on May 2 for the civil ceremony and probably for the evening Orthodox ceremony on the same day.) Bridesmaids wore white tulle dresses embroidered with silver-and-diamond rose motifs over silver lamé sheaths with matching silver lamé boleroes with leg o’ mutton sleeves. It is unknown whether the bride changed into her custom-made Coco Chanel for the Orthodox ceremony that same day (all reports have her wearing Schiaparelli), but the famed French couturier had created a white satin floor-length tunic dress with long sleeves and a four-and-a-half yard long train, all bordered with silver, pearl and diamond embroidery. The Chanel pièce de résistance: A white enamel flower diadem holding an unusual double scarf of white tulle that fell on either side of the bride’s face. For the Lutheran ceremony on this day in 1938 that made the royal union official, the bride wore her grandmother the Duchess of Coburg’s nearly century-old wedding gown of heavy silver brocade, an antique lace veil held by a diadem and an “imposing” necklace presented to her by her father-in-law, and carried a bouquet of orchids. The pictures (above and below) are of Kira’s grandmother’s dress. Read More »

A Very Royal Wedding Party with Kelley Moore at the Fairmont Olympic

A busy weekend prevented me from writing a post about the very fun Royal Wedding Viewing Party Rachel Chambers and I attended early Friday morning at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle. The unstoppable Kelley Moore—event planner, lifestyle expert, author—hosted a midnight-to-7:30 a.m. High Tea, where about 25 guests were treated as decadently as those attending the actual ceremony in London.  A mix of local ladies and a few gents arrived at the hotel’s glittering Georgian Room between midnight and 1 a.m. dressed for—what else?—a British wedding, in fancy cocktail attire and hats, natch. Given that this is a city so perennially chilled and water-logged that fashion is often an Read More »

Wedding Week! A Single Wedding Launches “the Dress” of the 1980s

We continue Wedding Week with a look back at some of our favorite most fashionable weddings in history. So naturally we have to home in on last century’s royal “wedding of the century:” That of this Friday’s groom’s mum and da: Lady Di and Prince Charles, who wed in London on July 29, 1981. From Rachel Chambers’ Story Behind the Style about how Diana’s dress created a bridal style craze that lasted the better part of the 1980s: “Beneath the veil, onto which tens of thousands of miniscule sequins were hand-tied to give her an ethereal shimmer, the bride wore her family’s gold and diamond “Spencer Tiara,” which served as a front-and-center reminder of her new royal role. Her brother, Charles, later revealed that the new princess had trouble bearing the weight of the headpiece, and spent the day with a “cracking headache.” In retrospect, the gown’s overwrought style seems incongruent with Diana’s later years as a classic fashion icon. But for a teenage bride marrying at the dawn of the age of excess that was the 1980s, the dress was perfect.” Read the full story—including every detail about the Dress that you could ever possibly want to know—and see a slideshow from the Big Day here.

The Royal Wedding: A Movie Star Becomes a Princess

Everyone knows the fairy tale about a girl swept away by a handsome prince. On this day in 1956, the bar was raised even higher when beloved, beautiful actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in what was dubbed “The Wedding of the Century.” As with another certain royal wedding, the media hype had been unrelenting since the couple announced their engagement a few months earlier. The fervor was fueled by the announcement that MGM’s Academy Award–winning costume designer Helen Rose would design the wedding dress. It didn’t help matters that Rose remained tight-lipped about Kelly’s look. When the big day arrived on April 19, 1956, more than 30 million people turned on their newfangled television sets just to see the dress the movie star–turned-princess was wearing.

The courtship had begun a year earlier after Kelly posed in a brief photo shoot with Prince Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi at the Canne Film Festival. Apparently, the couple clicked, because Read More »

“Shy Di” Gets a New Moniker: “Daring Di”

Lately, things are feeling very similar to March of 1981. The media is buzzing about a royal wedding, and their paparazzi are documenting the bride-to-be’s every outfit in order to analyze what each one might say about The Dress—you know, the royal wedding gown we commoners will base our bridal ensembles on for the next decade (at least). Thirty years ago the fiancée in the spotlight was not pretty Kate Middleton, of course, a woman who has demonstrated her ease with wearing high design and cultivating personal style throughout her eight-year courtship with Prince William (he first saw her modeling a transparent dress on a catwalk, after all). Will’s mother, publicity-shy Lady Diana Spencer, was to marry Prince Charles later that year, and since their engagement announcement on February 24, photographers had documented her every move and sharply criticized her every outfit. They were disappointed, apparently, to find that the preschool teacher dressed, well, like a preschool teacher. But when Diana and Charles made their first official appearance as an engaged couple on this day in 1981, the world saw a new side of Di: Risk-taking fashion plate. The event was the usual royal calendar fare, a charity benefit. But when Diana stepped out of her car to enter London’s Goldsmiths’ Hall, she treated the media to the best assets of her strapless taffeta gown. The ruffly black dress isn’t especially revealing by today’s standards, but according to Time she “left the island gasping.” One observer said, “I thought she was going to take a deep breath and fall Read More »

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