11 February 2011

Flashback Friday: Grand Duchess Maria Teresa's Wedding Dress

Look who's celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary next week:
On February 14, 1981, Henri (then the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg) married Cuban-born María Teresa Mestre y Batista-Falla after meeting her while both were studying at the University of Geneva. Naturally, we must mark this occasion by flashing back to the best part of any wedding (well, as far as this blog's concerned, at least): the dress.
It's a couture design from Balmain, and like most good couture, the craft is in the details. The whole dress is intricately patterned, but you can hardly tell in photographs. Oh, how I would kill to see it in person so I could fully appreciate everything that's going on here.
Really, though, the lack of detail from far away is one of the things that makes this dress work. Maria Teresa's never been the tall, willowy sort, and bathing her in a sea of ruffles or sequins would have been a disaster. This is simple and clean, even with the fur trim.
I am fundamentally opposed to fur trim on wedding gowns (it's a tad too Evil Snow Queen for me), but this is subtle. And it was February, a full-on winter gown is appropriate.
Another thing this dress has going for it: a good train/veil length. Long enough for the occasion, but not so long as to swallow her whole. Interesting detail: part of the train extends directly from her shoulders, cape-style.
She covered her face with a front veil when entering the cathedral on the arm of her father. Maria Teresa's tiara was one of the few royal wedding tiaras that could actually accommodate a front veil easily. The Congo Diamond Tiara was a gift from the Belgian colony of Congo to then-Belgian Princess Josephine-Charlotte (Henri's mother) when she married, and she wore it at her wedding. After Maria Teresa, both of Henri's sisters wore it for their respective weddings.These days, Maria Teresa occasionally wears it in necklace form.
Speaking of Princesses Marie-Astrid and Margaretha, their wedding gowns bring me to another point of consideration when looking back on Maria Teresa's gown: the ability of the design to age well over time.
Marie-Astrid (left) was married a year after her brother, in February of 1982, and Margaretha (right) was married in March of 1982. Lovely though these two ladies are, I think the volume and ruffle-age on their gowns shows the pay off of the relative restraint of Maria Teresa's design over time.

I confess I didn't like this one at first, but it really has grown on me. Then again, Maria Teresa's also become one of my favorite royals, so I won't claim an unbiased viewpoint. I hope they have a very happy 30th wedding anniversary, and a quiet one as Henri is on the mend from his recent heart troubles.

What's your verdict: is this gown a win? And where do you stand on the fur-on-wedding-gown issue?