A short walk from where I live, it was in fact the first time I’ve had the opportunity to visit (residents of Windsor are eligible for an Advantage Card which offers complimentary entry to the castle) and it was on our list of must-sees since moving to Windsor, nineteen months ago.
Exquisitely ornate as you would imagine, entering the Great Reception Room, originally intended as a ballroom on conception, where guests were received after the wedding ceremony of Princess Eugenie and Mr Jack Brooksbank in St George’s Chapel (as they were for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex before them), it was a beautiful sight to behold.
Curator Caroline de Guitaut walked us around the exhibition, sharing details on the outfits, bringing the process and day to life.
The Princess’s wedding dress was designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, who in 2007 founded the British-based label Peter Pilotto, known for its innovative textile design and referenced royal silhouettes of years gone by. Beautifully chic it was a privilege to get up close and witness the mastery and many months of work behind the dress.
Princess Eugenie, Mr Pilotto and Mr De Vos worked closely together on the design of the dress. During several fittings, the dress was developed layer by layer, from the corset and complex underskirt to the fitted bodice and full pleated skirt. The dress has a neckline that folds around the shoulders to a low back, which drapes into a flowing full-length train. The fabric of the dress, also designed by Mr Pilotto and Mr De Vos, includes a number of symbols that are meaningful to Princess Eugenie including the White Rose of York and ivy, representing the couple’s home, Ivy Cottage.
Mr Jack Brooksbank’s smart morning suit, made by tailors at Huntsman on Savile Row also stands proud beside it.
Most significantly, the dress exposes Princess Eugenie’s back and a scar, after she underwent surgery aged 12 to correct scoliosis. The Queen’s granddaughter describes in audio commentary that girls going through the same operation had written to her to thank her for breaking the taboo around scars after she made a point of making her own visible in the design of the dress.
Eugenie says in the commentary: ‘I had always wanted a low back, part of it was showing my scar and I believe scars tell a story about your past and your future and it’s a way of getting rid of a taboo.
I equally adored her timeless old Hollywood evening dress by friend to the Princess, Zac Posen, inspired by Grace Kelly in the film To Catch a Thief. The dress is also inspired by Victorian architecture and by the Queen’s veil. Zac Posen’s highly finished dress has a cape made of silk sourced in England.
Also included in the display are the maid-of-honour outfit of HRH Princess Beatrice of York, and, for the first time ever, the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara, which was lent to Princess Eugenie by Her Majesty The Queen. Her Royal Highness’ diamond and emerald drop earrings, which were a wedding gift from the groom are also showcased.
This was the first time Princess Eugenie had worn a tiara.
The outfits of the six bridesmaids and two pageboys were by the London-based children’s designer Amaia Kids. The pattern on their sashes was based on a work by the American artist Mark Bradford, which was also reproduced on the Order of Service. The exhibition includes the bridesmaid and pageboy outfits of Miss Theodora Williams and Master Louis de Givenchy.
The bouquet and diamond accessories can also be viewed.
The exhibition is open until April 22nd and can be viewed within the ticket entry fee.
To book tickets for guaranteed entry to Windsor Castle or for visitor information, check www.rct.uk or telephone +44 (0)303 123 7304.
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