Vintage Glory: Wedding Dress Inspiration From the Past
There’s one thing we know about fashion: it’s cyclical. If enough time passes, trends come back into style – like shoulder pads and crop tops. This also applies to the wedding industry, where designers today, look back at iconic gowns from the past. We revisit these memorable dresses, and show you how you can put a modern spin on an old classic.
In 1937 Wallis Simpson married Edward, Prince of Wales, in a sleek, tailored floor-length dress that was paired with a long-sleeved jacket. It was restrained but glamorous, which was appropriate for that decade. Generations of designers have created contemporary dresses that copy its clean lines and understated elegance.
Kate Middleton’s wedding dress may have catapulted the illusion neckline into the fashion limelight, but this style was around long before she was even born. When Elizabeth Taylor walked down the aisle with Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, in 1950, she wore a long-sleeved satin gown, with an off-the-shoulder, illusion neckline. There’s no denying that the strapless dress is a popular wedding option, but it’s got a new lease on life with an embellished, sheer top.
Fashion icon Audrey Hepburn was the epitome of elegance when she married actor, director and producer Mel Ferrer in 1954. Her dress emphasized her tiny waist, and the high collar, wide chiffon sleeves and long gloves embodied her romantic side. Hepburn is a muse to current designers, who are duplicating her feminine style with high-collared dresses.
One of the most recognised and beautiful wedding dresses in the world was worn by Hollywood star Grace Kelly, when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956. The fitted bodice was made from lace, the flared skirt was silk taffeta and tulle, and to suit her regal status, she covered up her arms. Brides today don’t have to be royalty to wear sleeves, and in fact sleeves – from long to cap – are a fashionable addition to many wedding outfits.
Canary yellow was the shade that Elizabeth Taylor chose to wear for her fifth wedding to Richard Burton in 1964. Brides in 2014 are also expressing their personality by getting married in non-traditional, non-white dresses. The hot hues in the industry are romantic pink, bold black and shimmering metallic.
Mia Farrow, the American actress known for her chic style and pixie haircut, is also remembered for marrying Frank Sinatra in 1966. She wore a simple double-breasted jacket that embraced the formal fashion of the 60s that also pioneered the trend of playing with fashion proportions. Update this elfin star’s outfit by wearing a cape or capelet. Choose something furry and warm for autumn and winter weddings, or a thin, delicate cover for spring and summer.
Ah, lace! It’s romantic, soft and feminine – which makes it the number one choice for a wedding dress. It’s a fabric that’s been around for centuries, and it’s not going anywhere. Raquel Welch made a statement in crochet, when she wed Patrick Curtis in 1967. Whether your dress is short, long, or somewhere in between, textured lace, on a nude underlay, is the way it should be worn.
Elizabeth Taylor made Eddie Fisher her 4th husband in 1959, wearing a silk green dress with a hood. For an up-to-date look, exchange the hood for a gorgeous mantilla veil and be extra trendy by knotting it at your nape.
Audrey Hepburn’s second wedding was in 1969, to Andrea Dotti. She chose a light pink wool dress that came mid-thigh, and she matched it to her pumps and a headscarf. Follow in her footsteps by showing off your shapely limbs, wearing a short skirt.
One of the most memorable wedding outfits belongs to Bianca Pérez-Mora Macias, who famously wed Mick Jagger in 1971 wearing a skirt suit – minus the blouse – and a hat with a veil. Impressive cleavage isn’t usually associated with a wedding outfit, but plunging necklines are busting into the bridal industry.
In 1981 more than 750 million people tuned in their TVs to watch Lady Diana Spencer marry Prince Charles at St Paul’s Cathedral. Her gown had huge sleeves, a full skirt and a 25-foot train, which amounts to a lot of dress. Few brides today would replicate this iconic outfit, but many still want to feel like a princess in a full skirt. A new take on an old tradition, is to wear a convertible dress, where a short reception number is hidden under a long removable skirt, made from layers of tulle and silk. This essentially (and economically!) gives you two wedding outfits.