15 October 2012

Readers' Top 10 Wedding Gowns: #4. Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway

Earlier in this countdown, we talked about the challenge presented to Robinson Valentine when designing the wedding attire for the Duchess of Cornwall – it was a wedding many thought they’d never see, and she didn’t exactly fit the royal bride stereotype. In many ways, I think Ove Harder Finseth had a similar challenge when asked to design a wedding gown for Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby for her August 25, 2001 wedding to Crown Prince Haakon of Norway.
Mette-Marit was also not the expected royal bride candidate. She was a single mother who made a tearful apology for her questionable past in a pre-wedding press conference; she was young and lovely, but the glamour and polish were yet to come. To start on this dress for a most modern royal bride, the bride and her designer turned to a most traditional royal fashionista: Queen Maud.
Queen Maud's coronation gown, in a typical silhouette for her which seems to have been the start of inspiration for Mette-Marit's gown.
Queen Maud, born Princess Maud of Wales, daughter of the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, was the first queen consort of this monarchy in an independent Norway. Her husband, Prince Carl of Denmark, took the name King Haakon VII (and Mette-Marit, of course, was marrying a future King Haakon). Maud was quite the fashionable lady; some of her wardrobe has been preserved, and there was a special exhibit at the V&A devoted to her style in 2005.
The outcome is, as I wrote in my original post on this gown, a dreamlike and hypnotic interpretation of a traditional silhouette. The fitted bodice and sleeves give way to a beautifully draped skirt; the skirt’s extension into a two meter train creates the effect of a bride floating down the aisle on her own personal cloud.
Her veil was longer than the train – much longer, actually, trailing along for six meters (nearly 20 feet). The ensemble is made of silk crepe specially dyed an ecru color, and a staggering 125 meters (about 410 feet) of silk tulle.
It would have been easy to overdo it with the wedding gown – to throw lace and sparkles at her in an overreaching attempt to transform her into a fairytale character – but that’s not what Ove Harder Finseth, together with seamstress Anna Bratland, did. The lack of embellishment and lace means the dress doesn’t compete with the bride’s minimalistic look, her small Diamond Daisy Tiara, or her unique bouquet, but it’s not a plain or boring dress either.
The tulle effect cleverly creates a gown that leaves Mette-Marit to be herself but still adds that dream effect, turning into her own sort of princess. It’s a gown you don’t forget, and it’s earned itself the #4 spot on your countdown.

What puts this gown in the Top 10 for you?

Photos: Kongehuset/Scanpix/Aftenposten/VG/Silkehuset/V&A