16 March 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Princess Anne's Gown

Princess Anne married her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, on November 14, 1973.We've already discussed the tiara she wore (on loan from her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother), so why not finish it up by going over the dress? Plus, this is another good wedding to review if you're trying to get in the mood for a Westminster Abbey wedding.

Listen: I love this dress. Seriously, I do. It's totally unique, and completely Princess Anne. Can you imagine her getting married in anything else? (Anything other than her attire for her second wedding, of course - which coincidentally is also totally and completely Princess Anne.) Apparently, it was the 23-year-old bride herself that came up with the idea for this Tudor creation.

Maureen Baker of Susan Small designed the dress, based off of court dress from the era of Elizabeth I. The whole thing was kept top-secret until the wedding day, when Princess Anne stepped out of the carriage to reveal the striking white silk creation.
The high collar and long sleeves of the gown were appropriate both for the required modesty of a royal wedding gown and for the chilly November weather. What makes it successful, though, is that despite the full coverage the gown still made the most of the princess's figure: the pin-tucked bodice hugged her tiny waist closely.
The dramatic trumpet sleeves are by far the most memorable part of the gown. They were edged in pearls and draped over pleated chiffon cuffs to create their shape. The chiffon, by the way, is the only part of the gown I take issue with: when she waves and the sleeves come back it looks as though we're seeing an undergarment, like a design flaw has been created, when in reality I think they were meant to be seen.
When compared to other dresses from the past few decades of royal weddings, this one also stands out because the train only measured into the seven foot range. The pure silk flowed beautifully, and I imagine any more length would have weighed it down. Besides, she didn't want a cavalry of bridesmaids and attendants with her on the big day: she opted only for her brother Prince Edward and her cousin Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, and the two of them couldn't have dealt with a major train affair.

Though simple in appearance, the gown did have some significant ornamentation: the neck and top featured rows of pearls and the back and train of the gown featured orange blossom embroidery in pearls and silver thread.
I like this gown best in movement, so I highly recommend checking out this video (some screen caps of the back of the gown are above). You can also appreciate the full glory of Anne's 1970's hairstyle in video. I love how her veil floats up above the high hair - it almost looks as though she had a front veil from the side, there's so much volume (she didn't). And it was light indeed:
This picture cracks me up, by the way. An animal skin? Really?

I know this is one of those gowns that probably has a place on many people's lists of Worst Royal Wedding Gowns. You could make a good case that the design, particularly the sleeves (and the hair), hasn't aged well. But I love it. I love the way it moves, I love that it's modest yet flattering, and I love that it is 100% Princess Anne.

Now, your turn: love it or hate it? (And before you go there with the Princess Leia comparisons, note this: Princess Anne was married in 1973, the first Star Wars movie didn't come out until 1977. Another case of Hollywood taking some inspiration from real-life royalty, perhaps?)

Photos: Polfoto/Corbis