February 22, 2016

"Victoria's Choice" ~ Book Excerpt

Another book excerpt! “Victorias Choice” is in the winter issue of Season Magazine. Click here to read it from the online magazine...and Ive reprinted it below as well. ’Tis an excerpt from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.




VICTORIA'S CHOICE
If you know one thing about wedding gown history, I would wager that it has something to do with Queen Victoria beginning the fashion for brides wearing white. (And now, thanks to her, it has been a tradition of sorts for 175 years.) But I would also wager that most people don’t know the real reason the 20-year-old monarch broke the precedent set by earlier royal brides—“dressed in their usual cloths of silver or gold”—and chose the color white for her wedding gown. Victoria even chose a crown of fanciful, yet wax orange blossoms instead of one of her dazzling diamond diadems!



Her choices have been regarded as representing simplicity, modesty and purity—and indeed the young queen was sentimental with an “uncluttered fashion preference,” according to costume historian Kay Staniland. However, Victoria was deeply in love, and this became her guiding inspiration for her wedding attire. Therefore, with much consideration—taking into account her duty, her position and her subjects—“the queen decided to make her marriage vows to her ‘precious Angel’ as his future wife rather than as the monarch,” wrote V & A museum curator Edwina Ehrman. So Victoria not only opted against wearing the ornate silver and gold of royalty, but also her regal “crimson velvet robe of state” feeling “it would only emphasize her seniority, and overshadow the role of her future husband,” Staniland added.

Victoria’s all-white bridal costume may have been without the usual glittering royal accoutrements, but it “was actually exquisite and of great value,” explained Maria McBride-Mellinger, author of The Wedding Dress. Underscoring “patriotic spending,” the queen commissioned her country’s renowned textile artisans. The rich silk satin for the gown and its 18-foot court train was woven in Spitalfields and the beautiful, lyrically-patterned lace for her veil and gown embellishments was hand made by two hundred women in a Devon village employed for eight months. The only color Victoria wore was near her heart: a large, brilliant blue sapphire brooch which had been Prince Albert’s wedding gift to her.

On the day of the wedding, Victoria’s adoring subjects happily received their queen’s choices, cheering her carriage on its way to the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace. Dressed in these creamy shades of white and tufts of orange blossom, I doubt that Victoria had a sense of the remarkably romantic lineage she was about to inaugurate. Nor could she ever know that her queenly exemplar: “Keep your relationship top priority,” would make fine advice for today’s busy wedding-planning brides. 

It seems for this young bride (who just happened to be ruler of an empire), that it came down to choosing the feelings of her future husband over her own ego. Victoria’s heart-centered choice changed bridal history and, in turn, illuminated the supreme sovereignty of a woman in love. ~


[Enjoy your own copy of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding....easy to order from Amazon with a speedy delivery!] 

November 16, 2015

"Mothers, Daughters and Weddings" ~ Book Excerpt

I thought youd enjoy another article excerpted from my new book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding. (It was published in the fall issue of Season Magazine. Click here to read it from the online magazine...and Ive reprinted it below.)




Mothers, Daughters and Weddings

Historically, weddings reflect changes within a culture. And perhaps no relationship is more affected than that of mothers and daughters. It was not long ago (when brides were typically young women not yet out of the “family nest”) that mothers orchestrated the whole affair. But today most brides are independent women who plan their own wedding—only sometimes with their mother’s assistance.

Nevertheless, weddings can still offer the possibility for mothers and daughters to deepen or restore their connection with each other—especially by participating in shared activities that have the quality of ritual. Many years ago this may have been creating the bridal gown together or stitching trousseau linens for the bride’s new home, offering opportunities to chat about life and love and what the future may bring. Today it could be a joint outing to try on dresses. (And if it’s to deepen relationships, I advise leaving judgments at home and taking one’s most diplomatic self along!)

Fashion designer Vera Wang has become an expert on weddings. Not just because she’s designed thousands of bridal gowns—and attended almost as many ceremonies—but also because of her keen observation of relationships. So her take on mothers is worth noting:

Each parent has his or her own distinct part to play. The most complex and challenging relationship, however, is often that of mother and daughter. Differences in style, vision and expectation can begin with the gown and end at the reception, with every issue in between fair game for controversy. A wedding can unleash torrents of emotion, and a bride must balance her own need for control with her mother’s sense of involvement. Sometimes fashion can even become an excuse for unexpressed issues.

The late designer Oscar de la Renta, who had been present for many mother-daughter gatherings in his bridal studio, had “gentlemanly” thoughts about mothers when asked who a bride should bring with her on a shopping excursion:

It would be cruel not to bring your mother along. The wedding is almost as important to the mother as it is to the bride. But brides should prepare their mothers for what they are thinking of wearing. The mother always has a notion of what she wants her daughter to look like, but the daughter is a woman now and she wants to look like one. If I feel like the bride is holding back on choosing something she really wants because she doesn’t want to hurt her mother’s feelings, I ask the mother if I can talk to the bride alone.

I recall those daughter-mother encounters in my former shop; some tender, some extremely tense, some remarkably both. At times it was as though I was watching each woman relive her life in an emotional time-lapse montage. A wedding becomes more of a pleasure and a blessing when we remember it’s a pivotal rite-of-passage for both daughter and mother.  Try a little tenderness.~








[Mother and daughter photo courtesy of BHLDN]

August 31, 2015

"Princesses, Heiresses and Weddings" - Book Excerpt


I thought youd enjoy my article published in the summer issue of Season Magazine. Click here to read it from the online magazine...and Ive reprinted it below. ’Tis an excerpt from my new book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.




Princesses, Heiresses and Weddings

“We knew that we wanted Diana to have a large bouquet,” explained her gown designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel. “The scale of the dress meant that a small one would have simply disappeared.” With the universal appeal of Princess Diana’s shimmering wedding in the summer of 1981, over-sized, shower-style bridal bouquets became the fashion. (Of course, most things in the glitzy, high-flying ‘80s were on a grander scale!)

Almost a hundred years earlier, Princess May of Teck (who became Queen Mary, Prince Charles’ great-grandmother), started a similar trend when she carried a huge, cascading bouquet for her 1893 wedding to the future King George V. It was called “a modern touch” because its “shape had only recently ousted the posy,” shared historian Ann Monsarrat. The 19th century English journal Manners for Women attributed this “extravagant fashion to the influx of heiresses from the New World into British society through marriage.” These were daughters of the nouveau riche of the Gilded Age who took their fathers’ immense wealth abroad between the 1870s and early1920s to marry cash-strapped noblemen, like the character of Cora Crawley on Downton Abbey. They not only rescued a way of life for the British aristocracy—at least for a few years—but also lent their opulent taste to wedding celebrations.

Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman who set up shop in Paris, became the father of modern couture—and a favorite designer of these rich American girls who in turn became famous for their expensive Worth wardrobes and diamond tiaras. They spent thousands every season at his salon and when the time came, ordered a dazzling wedding gown and fancy trousseau. Consuelo Vanderbilt, Jennie Jerome and Frances Ellen Work (Princess Diana’s maternal great-grandmother) were three of those nearly 500 heiresses from America who put their glittering mark on weddings.

During this time most British princess brides followed Queen Victoria’s lead and, instead of wearing one of the many diamond tiaras at their disposal, opted for the more sentimental choice of an elaborate, yet rather humble, bridal crown made of wax orange blossoms. However, many of the American heiress brides, more into opulence than sentiment, wore diamond tiaras—usually a gift from their father. 

Perhaps to make a proclamation all their own, several Windsor brides of the 20th century (namely Princesses Marina, Elizabeth, Margaret and Anne) also broke with the orange blossom tradition and chose diamonds for their hair—large, old, spectacular ones. So for her wedding, Lady Diana followed suit by wearing the Spencer family tiara: a whimsical floral design in gold, silver and heirloom diamonds. (And as far as I could tell, there was not an orange blossom in sight!)

Weddings have always been a time to dress up, make a statement and dress like a princess. As author Carol McD. Wallace shared: “If a wedding isn’t the ultimate chance to show off, what exactly is it?” ~