July 24, 2014

{Family & National Treasures}

Dear Bride-to-Be:
Historically, wedding gowns had a special place in a family’s remembrances, and those bridal costumes designed to be worn only once were “often carefully preserved as a family heirloom, sometimes passed down from generation to generation” along with anecdotal stories and tenderly held mementoes.

But royal wedding dresses—and many connected to royalty—and their precious accessories are donated to a museum or historical collection for safekeeping with an occasional display to the public. Even months before her glittering wedding in the spring of 1956, Grace Kelly announced that she would give her antique lace and silk gown to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in her hometown. And within the year, she and her prince visited the exhibition in a flurry of press coverage.

Concerned her pale blue wedding ensemble by couturier Mainbocher would not be accepted by a British museum after scandalously marrying a former king in 1937, Wallis Warfield Simpson donated it to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. And there it resides to this day.

The Duchess of Cambridge’s regal couture gown went on temporary display at Buckingham Palace soon after her wedding in the spring of 2011. Following a private visit by Kate and her grandmother-in-law (the Queen!) over a half million people visited the exhibit of the dress that “reflected the vision of a new generation of the British monarchy.”

In 1997 I saw a special exhibition, “In Royal Fashion,” at the Museum of London featuring the wedding gowns of Princess Charlotte of Wales (an elaborate “cloth-of-silver” circa 1816) and Queen Victoria (sans the fragile Honiton lace frills and border.)  They are only two of several royal wedding dresses now in the care of the skilled conservation and heritage charity housed at Kensington Palace that take care of these national treasures.

Princess Diana’s shimmering pouf of a wedding gown went on display in 1998, with other bridal accoutrements, in a gallery at Althorp, the Spencer family ancestral home. The exhibition has also been on a grand tour of the world for over a decade (ending this summer) with millions peering in at the enchantment of it all!

Whatever you are wearing for your wedding or whatever you decide to do with your gown afterwards, wear it like the goddess you are…allow yourself to feel your true beauty inside and out, enjoying your own “royal” time in the spotlight.
Love. Listen. Let go.
...with love from Cornelia
ps: This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding. Stay tuned for publication announcements later in the year!


July 9, 2014

{Dressed In White, Or Not}

Dear Bride-to-Be:
There are so many choices of wedding gowns today now that a plethora of designers are in the business. Once white became the traditional color (beginning almost two hundred years ago with British royalty, but really only becoming “the” color in the middle of last centurythe post-war 50s really loved “the great white wedding”), white gowns became steeped in emotions and dreams and lots of “meaning.”

Wearing white may have become the “tradition,” but there have always been “fashion rebels” (some who wore purple or red gowns; or hot pants and see-through tops) and members of royalty (who at one time wore brocades of silver) and societal “rules” that encouraged some brides—usually to please their mothers—to avoid wearing a shade of “off-white” (if one was hung-up on “virginal” implications!)
Now in our Internet-equalizer world there is a near universal popularity of the gown that turns a bride into a “vision in white” and evokes some kind of “princess” tingling down to her toes. Has the color white finally lost any cultural and emotional symbolism and is now just a “pretty preference”?
I find that wearing white has always had a ceremonial and regal quality...taking on a kind of goddess-like radiance. (No wonder women love wearing white a bride.) So whatever you wear for your wedding, add your own “meaning” and just be sure that it includes some “I feel gorgeous” tingling down to your toes!

Love. Listen. Let go.
...with love from Cornelia

[Photograph: Bryan Gardner for Martha Stewart]