21 September 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Crown Princess Mary's Gown

 HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson
May 14, 2004
Copenhagen, Denmark

As the weddings were just a week apart, so shall their gowns be on this site. Here's a dress that draws equal parts love and loathe; naturally, I can't wait to hear what you lot think.
Denmark went all out in 2004 to celebrate their Crown Prince and new Crown Princess, an Australian girl he met at a bar during the Sydney Olympics. Events leading up to the wedding included a boat race, a rock and roll concert, receptions, and two tiara events. The wedding itself featured yet another tiara-filled dress code for the guests. Naturally, this is an event that I look back upon with great fondness.
Mary's dress was a creation of Danish designer Uffe Frank, who used ivory duchess satin with a mother-of-pearl sheen, fully lined with silk organza. The scoop neckline just touched on the shoulders before descending into sleeves that wrapped the arm like a lily (dubbed calasleeves by Frank) and a slim-fit bodice. The waist itself is very simple, but with a sentimental touch on the inside: Mary reportedly had her mother's wedding ring stitched in near her heart. (Her mother died in 1997.) Her bouquet, which included eucalyptus to honor her Aussie roots, was taken to Scotland to rest on the grave of her mother and grandparents by an aunt after the wedding.
The most unique feature of the dress was to be found in the skirt, where panels of the satin opened from her hip to reveal 8 meters of heirloom lace. The Irish lace was another sentimental touch, this time honoring Frederik's family. It was part of the original wedding gift to Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden (Fred's great-grandmother) which included the famous family veil. The two pieces of lace from that gift have also been passed down and used on various wedding gowns in the family. The satin covering the lace was loosely attached and moved in the wind.
The back of the skirt keeps its fullness thanks to 31 meters of tulle edged in French Chantilly lace underneath. The back also features a detachable train (which seems to attach via a strip all the way up Mary's back, tucked into the collar). Another 23.5 meters of satin were used to create the 6 meter long train. The whole affair was stiffened with heavy organza.
The back of her dress is also the best place to see the biggest heirloom of the day: Crown Princess Margaret's veil, passed down through the family by Queen Ingrid. Mary is the only in-law to wear it to date. She anchored it with her wedding tiara, a gift from the Queen and Prince Henrik, and wore new earrings of brilliant-cut diamonds set in platinum with South Sea Island pearls created by Marianne Dulong (a jeweler that has proved to be a firm favorite in the years since).
She wore matching shoes with ribbon ties and had a handkerchief that was handmade by a Danish lace-making teacher.
As I said, this dress inspires both love and hate, from those that would put it at the top of their favorite royal gown list to those that think she looked like a milkmaid with an apron on. Personally, I'm in the middle with a slight lean towards the unfavorable side. I love the bodice; the neckline and the waist is just perfect elegance. I could live with the skirt, even though the train does have a bit of that "long fabric slapped on" look. But I can't handle the hair. It's just too big; the veil has a very obvious fold, and that tiara just plain disappears. Give it a bigger tiara, and we'll talk; take the hair down several inches, and we're in business.

As you know, seeing these gowns in motion can often sway an opinion, so do waste some time reliving it on YouTube. Frederik arrives in Part 1, Mary arrives in Part 2, and the show really gets started with Part 3:

Are you a fan of Mary's wedding dress?

Photos: AFP/smh/Ian Waldie/Getty Images/Zimbio/Daily Telegraph/Hello