Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not your ordinary bride.

What does it take to make a wedding dress for a future queen? Well, if you are the future Queen Elizabeth II, it took Norman Hartnell. And he designed dresses for just about every woman who had a part in the 1947 wedding, too.

He designed the dress in less than three months, finding his inspiration in a Botticelli painting. He aspired to create a pearly garden, going so far as to send his manager to the U.S for the pearls. When returning to his homeland, customs asked if he had anything to declare. Imagine being there when he raised his collar, "bent forward mysteriously and answered in a lowered tone: 'Yes, ten thousand pearls, for the wedding dress of Princess Elizabeth.'" I'd imagine the customs agent was taken somewhat aback whilst collecting duty on them.

And then there was the near scandal of the worms. The entire dress, almost came into question at one point. Mr. Hartnell wasn't able to use silk from the Queen's choice of silk, but when he chose another source, questions arose as to the origins of the silkworms. An outcry arose when some fine citizens said that the silkworms were (gasp) Italian, or even worse, Japanese. Imagine the scandal in post WWII England, with the thought of this. A genealogy of the worms ensued, at which point it was ascertained that they were, indeed, Chinese worms, and were thus found to be acceptable. The monarchy was saved.

Mr Hartnell also designed the bridesmaids' dresses, cutting them out on the floor of his workshop, as well as the dress for Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother). They covered the windows of the workshop, first with whitewash, then with muslin, to try to keep anyone from seeing the design and copying it before the wedding.

On the day of the wedding, the Princess' bouquet briefly went missing, but in the end, the wedding took place, and history was made. Want to see more photos of the wedding trousseau? Click here. For other royal wedding eye candy from years past, click here.

Next? The coronation dress.

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