What’s In A Dress?

Joanne Artman Gallery
May 24, 2018 3:52PM

The new Duke and Duchess of Sussex were a beautiful, radiant sight at their wedding this past weekend. American actress and humanitarian worker Meghan Markle wore a custom Givenchy by Clare Waight Keller bridal gown. Restrained, minimalist and effortlessly elegant, the gown seems a fitting choice for the equally reserved Markle, who is accustomed to utilizing style and fashion as a tool of expression. The choice of Givenchy is no surprise as Markle is an avid women’s rights supporter, and 2017 marked a turning point for the house with Keller’s appointment as its first female artistic director. Perfectly tailored, with a bateau neckline, the dress was a fittingly modest yet timeless vision. The accompanying 16-foot veil on the other hand was a breathtakingly dramatic statement piece featuring hand-embroidered flowers in silk thread and organza representing the 53 countries of the British Commonwealth. Reportedly the veil took workers about 500 hours to make, washing their hands every 30 minutes to keep the white silk spotless.

10th February 1840: Queen Victoria (1819 - 1901) and Prince Albert (1819 - 1861) on their return from the marriage service at St James’s Palace, London. Original Artwork: Engraved by S Reynolds after F Lock. (Image Courtesy of WikiCommons)

The famous wedding dress that started it all. Queen Victoria made the white wedding dress the piece de rigueur for traditional weddings when she wore one in her marriage to Prince Albert. Prior to this most brides surprisingly wore red. The perceived purity and simplicity of Victoria’s choice made the white wedding gown a staple.

Jan Van Eyck,Arnolfini Portrait(orThe Arnolfini Wedding) Triptych, 1434, Oil on Panel. (Image Courtesy of WikiCommons)

Van Eyck’s masterpiece is often cited as a revolutionary chef d’ouevre of complexity and originality in the artist’s utilization of perspective and iconography. Frequently thought to be pregnant, the bride is actually depicted in the popular fashion of the time. In addition, having a dress made of such a massive amount of fabric was an indicator of wealth and status, a symbol the artist chose to depict through layers of translucent glazes of paint which create the effect of lushness and depth.

Queen Elizabeth II on her wedding day, November 20, 1947

An iconic wedding gown, this dress was designed by Norman Hartnell and was worn by the future Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947. Due to wartime rations Elizabeth used ration coupons to purchase the material for the dress, for which the government alloted her an extra 200.The dramatic 13-foot train is said to have been inspired by Botticelli’s painting of Primavera, and was symbolic of rebirth and growth after the war. Numerous gowns have been compared to it since then, including that of Catherine Middleton.

Joanne Artman Gallery