The best royal wedding dress of all?
It's a dress so famous that you know what it looks like before you've even seen an image of it. The wedding gown of Grace of Monaco, worn to her religious marriage on April 19th 1956, is so well known that it has a cultural identity of its own. And when you do look at photographs, they are familiar and fascinating all at the same time. The perfect poise and elegance of this new princess is wrapped and surrounded by this beautiful dress.
This was a gown for history made from history. It contains Brussels lace made over a century before that famous day when Grace said 'I do' to Rainier. That lace top with its high collar, tiny buttons and long sleeves is perhaps the most famous part of this legendary dress. It is demure as well as dazzling with its silk bodice underneath emphasising the delicate rose point lace above.
And then there is the skirt with its petticoats - all three of them. It's made of more silk, yards and yards of it, starting at a tiny waist and spreading out into a full skirt that gives way to a train. It has volume, presence and a very, very royal air.
There was famously no tiara, just a pretty Juliet cap sat on top of Grace's swept up hair and a discreet bouquet which she carried with a prayer book.
The look was the brainchild of Helen Rose, head costume designed at MGM who gave this legendary dress to Grace as a wedding present. It took 30 seamstresses to make it - they crafted this gown for six weeks at the famous film studios before it was ready for this royal bride.
The result is regal bridal perfection. It has inspired many other dresses - the similarities between the gown worn by the Duchess of Cambridge and Grace's have been noted many times. In fact, this look has been used for brides many times over in the six decades since Grace wore it.
Sixty one years on, it remains an all time classic. No other gown has changed our idea of royal wedding dresses as much as this one. It might be classic now but at the time, we were used to royal brides in acres of satin with tiaras and diamonds. Grace ripped up the rule book and everyone else has been following her lead ever since. The fairytale princess looked every inch the part when she walked into her wedding on April 19th 1956. This bride looks just as beautiful in images that stare back across time and are embedded in royal history.