Today, wedding gowns tend to be gorgeous white dresses of lavish materials with ornate details. They can cost upwards of 25,000$ with the average cost being somewhere around 3,000$. However, this was not always the case. For most of Western wedding history, women simply wore the best dress they had or, if they were wealthy, they would have a new dress made, which would then become the dress worn for special occasions. However, in 1840, with the wedding of a Young Queen Victoria to Prince Albert, wedding fashions changed forever.
What made Victoria’s dress so special was that it was an elaborate white dress. At the time, pure white fabric was hard to create, as they didn’t have ready access to many of the modern tools we have today. It was also hard to clean. So, the idea of creating a dress which was only to be worn once was considered quite the luxury. However, this is what young fashionable women wanted to do after hearing about Victoria’s dress. Soon, women of all social classes began to wear white or off-white dresses on their wedding day.
Victoria, as it turns out was hardly the last royal woman to set bridal fashion. Just over a century later, Grace Kelly would also set a new standard for how brides would dress on their wedding day. After the financial hardships of the Great Depression and then the rationing of WWII, the late 1940’s and 1950’s allowed bride’s to really indulge in the fairytale aspect of weddings and Grace Kelly was the perfect example of this. With yards of silk and lace, embellished with tiny pearls and one of the most iconic vails is fashion history, it is a masterpiece of understated elegance, while embracing the fairy-princess aspect of her love story. When she married Prince Rainier of Monaco, she became a real-life princess and her wedding dress reflected this and became one of the most frequently imitated wedding dresses of all time.
In fact, the most recent, and possibly most notable, dress to emulate Grace Kelly’s dress was Kate Middleton. While Kate’s dress was considerably less ornate than Grace’s was, it is easy to see where the future Queen of England borrowed from the famous princess. Both dresses consist of several parts, mainly a plain ball gown type skirt paired with a gorgeous, open high-necked lace bodice. These dresses are timeless.
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