18 July 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Lady Helen Taylor's Gown

 Lady Helen Windsor and Timothy Taylor
July 18, 1992
Windsor, England

In her autobiography, designer Catherine Walker wrote of this gown: "When Lady Helen Windsor walked down the aisle I knew I had given her my best." She's not alone in that sentiment; the unique features of this gown have given it enough fame it's often a top bullet among the listed highlights of of Walker's career. And when the very top bullet is being a well-known couturier for Diana, Princess of Wales, that's saying something.
Walker was riding high on the Diana wave when Helen, the Duke and Duchess of Kent's daughter and reformed royal wild child, commissioned her to design the gown for her wedding to art dealer Tim Taylor. The venue was set for St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, and the ornate architecture inspired the designer who drew from the arches in the creation of the unique wide neckline and sleeves. Those arches are the defining characteristic of the dress, and a large part of what makes it memorable. The embroidery was chosen after investigating the diamond and pearl tiara the bride was to wear.
The creation of the dress, assembled from 10 full length panels, was technically complicated - so much so, that Walker writes that she nearly had to bribe her talented team to work on it. Getting the right fit was key to the success of the dress shape, and Walker even decided to re-cut the bodice frighteningly near the wedding after the bride had lost a bit of weight and it wasn't sitting just right. (This occurred unbeknownst to Lady Helen.)
The bodice flared out to a full skirt with a cathedral-length train and tulle veil to match. Helen accessorized with a diamond and pearl necklace and matching earrings. She also sported a modified fringe tiara of diamonds and pearls which will be our topic tomorrow.
Helen and Tim have four kids: two sons, Columbus and Cassius, and two daughters, Eloise and Estella. The girls were born after Tim successfully fought cancer. Though they live a largely private life, we see them at major royal events and out and about on the London social scene.

Where does Helen's gown rank on your list of favorite royal wedding gowns?

Photos: Getty Images/Hello/Catherine Walker