02 July 2010

Flashback Friday: Princess Marie-Chantal's Wedding Dress

Yesterday, July 1, was the 15th wedding anniversary of Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and Marie-Chantal Miller.  Because I can't believe it's been that long, and because it's just under 2 months until the next Greek royal wedding (yay!), let's reminisce about a gown that might just be one of the most expensive wedding dresses ever produced.
Of course, it's no surprise that the Miller family would go all out.  They are rich, Rich, RICH, and clearly pride themselves on their 3 daughters making excellent marriages: M-C here married a royal (obviously), Pia married a Getty (and then divorced one), and Alexandra married a von Furstenberg, which gave her both the title of Princess AND immediate access to the designs of the fabulous Diane von Furstenberg (she's divorced now too, losing the Princess but keeping the DVF connection).  Straight out of an Edith Wharton novel, this family.
Accordingly, Valentino was called in for the couture job.  The ivory silk gown was studded with rose appliques and finished with a lace bodice and sleeves decorated with more floral motifs.  Twenty five seamstresses worked on it, and twelve different kinds of lace were used.  On top of it all, the Antique Corsage Tiara borrowed from Queen Anne-Marie anchored a Chantilly lace veil featuring a scalloped edge and butterfly embroidery that was four and a half meters long.  Rumor has it, this confection cost £150,000.
I remember the first time I saw this dress.   There was a television special about royal weddings that I taped (VCR, old school - this was the late 1990s, maybe?), and it included footage of their Greek Orthodox ceremony in London's St. Sophia Cathedral.  Oh my God, I watched that thing over and over again until the tape ran wonky.  I don't have it anymore, but I spend a shameful amount of time wishing I did.  I'm still holding out for someone to put it on YouTube.
Anyways, my point is - back in the day, I loved this.  It seemed perfectly princessy and prim, Grace Kelly-esque in its use of lace.  But the passing of time hasn't been kind; these days, the enchantment factor is lost to me.  Now, all I see is a gown that's swallowing its bride whole.   Marie-Chantal is a tiny lady, and this is just too much.  Too stiff and too high, and too much embellishment on the dress itself; rather than seeing a radiant bride, all I see is the lace bodice competing with the lace veil for my attention.
It also looks a whole lot like Máxima's gown to me - which of course was also by Valentino.  Now, perhaps Máxima is the unoriginal one since she was married 7 years after Pavlos and Marie-Chantal, but I like hers better.  She's not so petite, so her figure can stand up to a formidable dress, and the simplicity of her gown works better with her veil.  Or perhaps Máxima's thousand watt smile just does a better job of overriding what could possibly be too much dress.

What do you think - too much dress, or is this one of your favorites?

Photos:  Lichfield/Getty Images/Corbis/Hello/Tim Graham/Andrew Winning/AFP