Something Borrowed

· Princess Eugenie’s surprising wedding dress inspiration ·

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Princess Eugenie and new husband Jack Brooksbank immediately following their wedding at Windsor Castle, 12 October 2018. Via BBC

Though it may not have been the Royal Wedding of the year, Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank today did not disappoint. Despite gusts of wind that threatened to blow the hats off of all the guests’ heads, the British Royal family enjoyed a lovely autumnal wedding. Gorgeous floral displays outside of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle featured dark reds and oranges while the bridesmaids and page boys wore sashes that nodded to Eugenie’s career in the art world.

However, like any wedding, royal or not, the main focus was on the bride and what she wore. After some hints as to some of the dress’ features, just before 11 o’clock, we finally got to see the dress. Eschewing recent tradition, Eugenie opted not to wear a veil which helped highlight a scar on her back that she acquired after having surgery for scoliosis at age 12. She had specifically requested that her dress, designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos of Peter Pilotto, have a low cut back to proudly display this scar.

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The low back, bustle-like folds, and Princess Eugenie’s scoliosis scar. Via BBC

Eugenie’s creamy white satin dress looked straight out of a fairytale. The folded neckline, long sleeves, nipped in waist, and full skirt and train conjured images of Cinderella marrying her prince at the end of the 1950s cartoon and Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. The gorgeous tiara featuring emeralds finished off the look and Eugenie looked every bit the part of the princess as she ascended the steps to meet her groom.

While the tableau called to mind cartoon fairytales, I couldn’t help but be nagged by a familiarity about her dress that I couldn’t put my finger on. There was something about the luxurious fabric, with its subtle pattern waving across the skirt that seemed nigglingly familiar.

Did it look similar to the wedding gown of her mother, Sarah, Duchess of York? No, though the creamy satin matched, the similarities ended there. Eugenie even opted not to wear the York tiara as many speculated she would.

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Sarah Ferguson in her wedding dress. Via Wikipedia

It wasn’t Princess Diana’s, that I knew for sure. Though the bustle-like folds at the back brought to mind the bustles on the back of Kate Middleton’s stunning Alexander McQueen wedding gown, I knew it wasn’t that either. It had something to do with that subtle pattern that gently waved across the skirt.

Finally, as I continued to watch and wrack my brains, thinking about all Royal wedding gowns past, it clicked: the Queen herself. Of course, it finally became clear, that in a subtle nod to her grandmother, Eugenie’s dress took inspiration from the Queen’s Norman Hartnell wedding gown. That dress featured a more prominent pattern of star lilies and orange blossoms that also waved along in a garland-like fashion across the skirt. Perhaps looking again to Granny’s coronation gown for inspiration, the pattern on Eugenie’s dress, per Buckingham Palace, featured a “Thistle for Scotland acknowledging the couple’s fondness for Balmoral, a Shamrock for Ireland as a nod to the Bride’s Ferguson family, the York Rose and ivy representing the couple’s home.” These symbols were designed into a garland-like rope that was woven into a jacquard onto the fabric of the dress.

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This image best shows how the jacquard woven into the silk emulated the same pattern as the embellishments on Princess Elizabeth’s Norman Hartnell dress in 1947. Via People
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You can see here how Princess Eugenie’s dress echoed her grandmother’s. Via Good Housekeeping
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More of the detail on Princess Elizabeth’s dress. Via British Vogue

Though the Queen’s dress had a much more visible pattern whereas Eugenie’s was only visible when caught in the right light, both dresses had a similar effect. The overall silhouette of Eugenie’s dress also shared commonality with her grandmother’s and this, at least, was intentional. The Palace also said, “The designers undertook archive research into previous dresses worn by Members of the Royal Family and identified a silhouette.” This archival research by Pilotto and De Vos leads me to believe the echoes of Princess Elizabeth’s dress in the patter was also intentional. The dress was clearly a nod to previous Royal wedding dresses pulled off in a thoroughly modern way.

We may never know if Princess Eugenie’s gown was meant to echo the Queen’s. We do know that Eugenie is said to be quite close with her grandmother so it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch. As someone who holds my own grandmother dear to my heart, I’m going to continue to believe it was an intentional nod from an adoring granddaughter to her grandmother.

Because royal or not, we can all relate to that.

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6 thoughts on “Something Borrowed

  1. Hello Karina, Beautiful article and well written. I enjoyed reading this. Best regardsHilary 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


  2. Thanks for the message Karina. I look forward to seeing you as a princess bride 🙂 When is the big day? Please send me some photo’s, you will surely make a beautiful bride….
    Best wishes and shalom from Israel


    1. Big day in November 23, so coming up quickly! Had some visa issues so scrambling to get everything ready last minute. Thank for the kind wishes, I will be sure to send you some pictures 🙂 xx


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