Princess Lilian of Sweden on her wedding day
They are the five wedding gowns of the modern royal house of Sweden and now they will all be seen together. A special exhibition of the dresses worn by four princesses and a queen and linked to some of the most famous royal love stories in modern Europe will take place in Stockholm this autumn to mark the 40th anniversary of the marriage of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. And it promises to be a total treat.
Princess Lilian's wedding dress was over thirty years in the making. Lilian Craig had to wait three decades to marry her prince - she and Bertil of Sweden had to wait to wed until Carl Gustaf had become king and made Silvia Sommerlath his queen. Lilian wore the traditional wedding colour, blue, in a long silk dress with bell sleeves and a swirl of feathers in her hair. The bride carried Lily of the Valley. Her gown is a classic and the happy ending to a royal love story that captured imaginations around the world.
Six months earlier, the world had watched Silvia Sommerlath walk down the aisle in a white silk gown by Marc Bohan at Dior to say 'I do' and become a queen consort. Her gown was very simple and very seventies and topped with an heirloom of a tiara that added all the regal elements needed for a new queen. It might not be the most copied of royal wedding gowns but it has a very special place in history for this is a dress worn at the moment one woman became a queen.
The simple structure and clean lines of unembellished silk were echoed in the dress worn by Silvia's elder daughter, Crown Princess Victoria, on her wedding day in 2010. But the gown, by Par Engsheden, was a very contemporary take on her mother's gown with bare shoulders and short sleeves but with enough simplicity to allow that Cameo tiara to sparkle and shine. It's an all time classic royal wedding dress.
Princess Madeleine's lace gown by Valentino is another legend in royal wedding dress history. After three wedding gowns with little adornment, the acres of lace in Madeleine's outfit was a surprise but a very pleasant one when it was revealed on her wedding day in June 2013. The lace top was very similar to the shape of her sister's gown while the flounce at the end ensured it had a modern edge to it. Pretty perfect.
The last gown in the exhibition will be the one worn by Sofia Hellqvist on the day she became a princess in June 2015. The creation of Ida Sjostedt, it has a lace top and a silk skirt combining the trends set by the royal brides that had gone before Sofia. It was a modern gown for a modern princess and like the other four dresses that will be exhibited in this special show, it suited its wearer to perfection. Five gowns, five women, five romances. This is an exhibition of royal history in the making.
The exhibition runs at the Royal Palace in Stockholm from October 22nd 2016 until March 5th 2017.