Sarah Ferguson and HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York
July 23, 1986
I can't say I've seen every outfit that Sarah Ferguson wore during her tenure as Prince Andrew's wife (or afterward, too, for that matter), but I've seen enough to make this declaration: Sarah never looked better than she did on her wedding day. In fact, it may have been her sole fashion triumph.
Despite a wedding that took place in the midst of high 1980's fashion, this dress managed to eschew most trends in favor of an extremely flattering, classic design. Of all of the dress's elements, the only item that has fallen prey to the passing of time is the slight shoulder pouf of the sleeves.
Designer Lindka Cierach didn't have an enviable task, working with Sarah Ferguson. The bride had a particular fondness for whimsical motifs, most especially bows. (If you don't think taming a bow-happy bride is a design feat in and of itself, then you my friend have not seen the wonder that is Princess Mabel's wedding dress.) Cierach managed to take everything that could have been hokey and sculpt it into an elegant dress that still reflected the bride's personality.
The ivory duchesse satin gown featured a scoop neckline and a bodice detailed with intricate embroidery and bugle beads. The structure of the top and the gradual flare out into a full skirt gave Sarah (a lady that would soon be taunted by the press for her weight troubles) a positively teeny-tiny waistline.
A 17 foot long train flowed out behind the dress from a bow-adorned bustle (you have to give the bride something, right?). Here the bride's highly personal taste for ornamentation was incorporated: bumble bees, anchors, thistles, flowers, and a large "A" for Andrew were among the motifs embroidered into the satin train.
Sarah wore her red locks down and curly underneath her veil. She began the ceremony wearing a floral headdress atop her front veil, and it was only after the signing of the register (when she was officially HRH The Duchess of York) that she revealed the tiara underneath. The diamond diadem - one of the best tiara designs around, I think - was selected by Sarah herself and purchased from Garrard's by the Queen.
Making sure the bride looks her absolute best has to be the prime goal of any wedding dress, royal or not. For being the best royal example around, this dress warrants a spot in the top 10.
See the dress in action:
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Photos: Corbis/Sygma/Fotomarktplz.de/Tim Graham/Getty Images/Abaca Press