Royal watchers who have obsessively followed the preparations for the royal wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales and the commoner Catherine Middleton know that several days ago, the royal florist, Shane Connolly oversaw the placement of an avenue of field maples alongside the main aisle of Westminster Abbey. Those well versed in the Victorian language of flowers immediately noted that field maples represent “modesty.” This should have been the first clue to the fashion world as to what the bride would wear. These particular trees will be planted on the grounds of Highgrove, the residence of the groom’s father, HRH the Prince of Wales, a great advocate of environmental conservation.
Miss Middleton was quoted worldwide as identifying Her Serene Highness, the Princess of Monaco AKA Princess Grace as her inspiration for royal wedding attire. The fashion historians among you will recall that Miss Kelly was an Academy Award winning actress under contract with MGM Studios and thus had at her disposal Helen Rose – and the entire costume design department of the studio – who created the “ashes of roses” lace suit for the civil ceremony and the more widely publicized cathedral gown. Miss Kelly arrived at the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas for the cathedral service wearing a “rosepoint” lace bodice over a strapless underbodice. The skirt featured a high cummerbund of ivory silk faille and the high curve bell shape was in the style popularized at the time by the Spaniard Cristobal Balenciaga. Monaco being a petite Principality, even the national Cathedral is a bit diminutive and thus the bride’s gown featured a “chapel’ length train. The bride glowed radiantly through a fingertip length veil trimmed in rosepoint lace that cascaded to cathedral length in the back.
Last night, the fashion world was set a-Twitter by numerous tweets that Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen had checked into the Goring hotel where the family of the priness-in-waiting were staying. This morning, Miss Middleton emerged from the hotel in what is surely the most hotly anticipated dress of the year for what has been billed as the “wedding of the century.” Indeed, the bride wore Sarah Burton. In fact, the palace revealed that Miss Middleton had worked very closely with Miss Burton on the design of the dress which features a white French Chantilly lace on ivory silk tulle bodice over a silk satin gazar strapless underbodice – very similar to that worn by Princess Grace. As expected by those well versed in royal protocol, the dress provided near full coverage from the neck to the wrists. See what I mean about the field maples?
Lest any of you be shocked that an English bride, let alone the future Queen of England be married in French lace, let me assure you that French Chantilly is a “type” of lace. This particular lace was made specifically for the bride by the Royal School of Needlework based at Hampton Court Palace of Tudor fame. Workers there washed their hands every 30 minutes to keep the threads and resulting lace pristine for the wedding day. Miss Burton’s seamstresses hand cut individual flowers from the lace and hand engineered them onto the silk tulle bodice affixing them with stab stitches every 2-3 mm.
The full skirt in ivory silk satin gazar was designed to evoke an opening flower, slightly padded at the hips in the Victorian style with deep pleats that cascade down into a trompe l’oeil effect of overlapping flower petals in the 2 meters 70 centimeters (roughly 6 feet) “cathedral” length train. The entire skirt is covered in individually hand appliquéd lace flowers. The late Diana, Princess of Wales’ 25 foot train had reset the fashion world’s idea of a cathedral train, but the true standard is 6 feet. Bravo to Miss Middleton for bringing back the original “modest” standard for her wedding in perhaps the grandest of England’s largest churches.
The bride appeared smiled radiantly through her single thickness of ivory silk tulle veil, trimmed in individual hand sewn lace flowers. The veil was elbow length in the front and held in place by the Cartier halo tiara lent to her by Her Majesty the Queen. This particular tiara was a gift from the late Duke of York (Later King George VI) to the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother) in 1936. The Queen Mother presented it to the then Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of her 18th birthday in 1944.
The bride carried a well proportioned bouquet of Myrtle, Hyacinth, Lilly of the Valley, and Sweet William. Isn’t that precious? Shane Connolly, the royal florist, designed the hand wired shield shaped bouquet.
Photo: Zak Hussein/WENN.com
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Tags: Alexander McQueen, and Sweet William, Cartier tiara, Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, Catherine Middleton, French lace, halo, Hyacinth, Joseph Ungoco, Lilly of the Valley, Myrtle, Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother, Sarah Burton, Shane Connolly