16 October 2012

Readers' Top 10 Wedding Gowns: #3. Princess Máxima of the Netherlands

Some of the designers represented on our countdown were new to the royal world when they were selected to design a royal wedding gown, and others (like Norman Hartnell) were veterans of the royal stage. Valentino is one such veteran, and his design for the wedding of an ebullient South American and a future Dutch king shows what a master can do when allowed to put his experience to work.
The gown for Máxima Zorreguieta’s February 2, 2002 wedding to the Prince of Orange was a high cowl neck with three-quarter sleeves and a flared skirt. The high neck was modest and appropriate for a royal wedding, but the decision to refrain from a full-length sleeve kept the top half of the dress from feeling too stifling.
The fabric was silk Mikado, a heavier silk which warmed the bride for the outside portions of her winter wedding and allowed her to survive a wedding with a lot of movement (travel to the civil ceremony, a venue change to the religious wedding, then another move for the reception, plus all the sitting and standing involved in all of that) and remain blissfully wrinkle free. Adding interest during all that movement were panels of embroidered lace in the skirt that revealed themselves as she walked.
Capitalizing on the grand scale of the wedding venues and the overhead camera placement, Valentino included a lengthy five meter (just over 16 foot) train. The veil, silk covered in magnificent floral hand embroidery, rested over the train and provided both interest for those with only a back view of the bride and that luxurious heirloom quality one might expect from a royal wedding gown. In fact, I’ve often seen people mistake Máxima’s veil for one of the heirloom lace veils used by many royal brides – it’s not, it was part of the ensemble created by Valentino, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if it becomes one in the future?
(I feel here, after discussion of the mismanagement of Princess Charlene’s double train affair during her wedding movements, that we must pay a momentary tribute to Princess Máxima’s adult bridesmaids. They kept her looking neat and tidy through the whole affair, taking enormous care to properly line her veil up with her train at all times, and looked quite elegant themselves in their maroon gowns.)
The court jeweler created a new tiara from an old one for Máxima by removing the buttons from the Pearl Button Tiara and temporarily adding diamond stars that had once belonged to Queen Emma in their place. It suited the bride’s personality and stood up to the ornate veil behind without being too large or presumptuous for a beginner princess.
Valentino’s well planned creation claims the #3 spot on your countdown, and I quite agree with you: the whole thing, every aspect, it just screams royal wedding to me. I can’t imagine any bit of it at a “regular” wedding, and I don’t want to. And sometimes that’s exactly the charm of a royal wedding gown.

What puts this gown in the Top 10 for you? 

Photos: ANP/Huffington Post/Het Koninklijk Huis