May 29, 2017

20th Anniversary

This summer marks the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death. My book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding, is quoted in various worldwide commemorative publications honoring the princess.

For the next few months, I will share book excerpts that focus on her contributions to the world of weddings as well as the essence of inner and outer beauty; later I'll also share excerpts from my in-progress book, tentatively titled, From Princess to Goddess & the Rebirth of Love.

Enjoy the first excerpt below....

{excerpt from}
Chapter Two: “A World of Celebrity” 

The first worldwide media spectacular…with all the pomp and circumstance at England’s matchless command,” declared journalist Susie Pearson when looking back in 1991 at Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding ten years before. “It was, perhaps, the defining event of the eighties.” The brilliant affair also brought ceremonial weddings back in style almost overnight, resurrecting the bridal industry from the social upheavals of the previous two decades. After this royal watershed event, getting married became fashionable again and the world was ready! It put a new era of fancy wedding hoopla into motion: elaborate designer gowns; a return of the status wedding celebration; staged over-the-top productions and “celebrity” weddings as media spectacles—sometimes coordinated by professional event planners who became bigger celebrities than many of their clients.

Almost everything about the 1980s became a symbol of excess, “a decade in which style so often trumped substance,” continued Pearson. The appeal of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ grand ceremony ignited Martha Stewart’s brand of attention-down-to-the-last-detail “decorative wedding”—her wedding book in 1987 launched an empire! What followed was the wedding imploded as a “consumer rite,” a trend that, explained scholar Vicki Howard in her book Brides, Inc., had begun in America at the middle of the twentieth century. ~

[excerpt from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding...pages 13-14.]

February 22, 2017

"Victoria" on PBS

Did you enjoy watching the period drama "Victoria" on PBS? Of course the story of the young queen included her 1840 wedding to Prince Albert which continues to influence brides and wedding celebrations today! If you've read my book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding, then you've read rich background stories and understand the intrigues of "the great white wedding"....!  

In my latest speaking engagement presentation, "Victoria & Elizabeth: Recreating Crowns & Gowns" (inspired by PBS' "Victoria" as well as the fabulous series on Netflix, "The Crown," featuring the life of Queen Elizabeth), I share design details about the real gowns plus behind-the-scenes stories of how the costume designers recreated those royal wedding and coronation gowns. 

You can read The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride for stories about the "real" wedding gowns, but here's a little blurb from my talk about the recreation of Queen Victoria's wedding gown by costume designer Rosalind Ebbutt. (My PowerPoint presentation is also full of beautiful images!):


{excerpt from}
"Victoria & Elizabeth: Recreating Crowns & Gowns"

“Victoria’s” costume designer Rosalind Ebbutt, shared about reproducing the historic gown: "We were able to source a lot of things, silk that was very similar to the one Victoria wore, lace made by English lacemakers in Honiton. [The real] Victoria was very keen that everything would be from her country and made by an English dressmaker….,” the costume designer shared.

"The wedding dress was the one thing we knew how it would look so [recreating] it was a longer, drawn out process. Sometimes [for various costumes] we had to get things done in a week or so, but [for the wedding costumes], we had several weeks which was great," Rosalind explained.

In an interview with Hello! Magazine, she shared that “working with actress Jenna Coleman was a delight – and the highlight of series one was spending weeks creating and perfecting the all-important wedding dress…. “funnily enough” she added about filming the wedding scenes, “it was a moving day for us….."

Costume designer Rosalind Ebbutt and actress Jenna Coleman at fitting for "Victoria"

January 2, 2017

Botanical Princess Gowns

My article, "Botanical Princess Gowns," appears in the winter issue of SEASON magazine...on page 77—and reprinted below. (Plus, it's an excerpt from my book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride.) Enjoy!

Botanical Princess Gowns
Flowers, naturally, have always been favored at weddings. And for many British royal brides, even for the bridal gown itself. According to Christopher Warwick in Two Centuries of Royal Weddings, Queen Victoria’s grandmother, Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wed King George III in 1761 wearing “silver brocade woven with patterns of flowers—some say carnations—in three types of gold thread.”

“Flowers, both real and artificial, made a comeback at mid-19th century weddings,” explained Marriage à la Mode, and the bouffant crinoline gowns of the time were “positively awash” with trails of either wax orange blossom and myrtle—like Princess Alexandra’s silver tissue gown when she married the Prince of Wales in 1863; or artificial roses and white heather—like the fluffy white silk gown Victoria, the Princess Royal, wore in 1858. Tufts of tulle and lace were often added to the botanical fancy, making these over-the-top dresses pure confections. “Many of these gowns,” Warwick commented, “were so heavily festooned and garlanded with leaves and orange blossom that the wearers tended to resemble a variety of exotic horticultural exhibits rather than wide-eyed brides.”

Toward the end of the 19th century, when crinolines were gone and hourglass silhouettes were the fashion, the fitted, low-cut gown of Princess May of Teck—the future Queen Mary—seemed, perhaps because of her well-endowed figure, “engineered rather than sewn,” according to historian Ann Monsarrat. However, the gown was notable for its woven fabric loaded with symbolic floral sentiment. The white satin brocade had a silver design interwoven of roses, shamrocks, thistles, orange flowers, heather and true-love knots—as romantic as it was patriotic.
Princess Elizabeth’s wedding in 1947, even on a wet and dreary November day, was a shining break from the austerity of the grim post-war years. Her ivory silk satin gown—overflowing with floral motifs—was glamorous, opulent and symbolic. The silkworms used to make the silks both in Scotland and England were brought from Nationalist China instead of “enemy silkworms” from Japan or Italy. Designer Norman Hartnell, inspired by Botticelli’s 15th century painting Primavera, had the gown and long silk tulle court train intricately hand embroidered with thousands of tiny crystals and seed pearls in garland designs of jasmine, smilax, lilac, and York rose blossoms. (However, even the future queen needed ration coupons for her wedding gown’s fabric, so women from all over the country sent their coupons to their beloved princess. They were politely, and with messages of deep gratitude, returned by the Palace.)

In the spring of 2011, it was the bride of the queen’s grandson, Prince William, who carried on Britain’s floral tradition. Kate Middleton looked regal in a white silk gazar couture gown with lace—handcrafted by artisans at the Royal School of Needlework—in delicate patterns of roses, thistles, daffodils and shamrocks, inspiring a bit of “O! to Be in England” sentiment in all of us! ~