Monday, 19 June 2017

Royal Wedding Dresses: the Countess of Wessex

Edward and Sophie in an official wedding portrait taken on June 19th 1999

She was a discreet royal bride at a relatively low key wedding. But the bridal gown of Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones has stood the regal test of time better than many. As she became Countess of Wessex, the bride wore a gown inspired by history that looks as good now as it did on June 19th 1999 when she walked into St George's Chapel, Windsor. Here's a lookback at the Sophie's royal wedding dress.

The gown was designed by Samantha Shaw and is made of silk crepe and silk organza. It has a deep V neck and has a coat dress effect - rather similar in some ways to the dress which would be worn by Mathilde of Belgium just months later. But this gown also took its setting as part of its inspiration and that helped it stand out from the crowd.

The sleeves are long and fluted at the ends, reminiscent of the gowns seen in medieval tapestries. The over layers of the skirt billow out into a long train - this is a royal wedding after all - that flow from the dress itself while the gown itself has a medieval shape with a modern twist.

This gown also had plenty of simple sparkle. It was scattered with 325,000 crystal beads and pearls which caught the light in the chapel without sending everyone into a glitter frenzy.  There was also a light veil dotted with crystals covering the train and held neatly at the back of her tiara.

The addition of the unusual and specially designed pearl necklace added another element of olden times to this very 20th century gown - it was a gift from the groom and matched the black and white worn by the pages and bridesmaids.

Sophie's dress has retained its classic style seventeen years on and while it may not be the most famous of royal wedding gowns. it's certainly one of the most elegant. It suited the bride to perfection and still looks great. Sophie's stylish dress, inspired by the past, has its own place in history.

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