Having enjoyed the wedding of Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank on TV/Internet last year, I was glad to see their wedding exhibition at Windsor Castle lately. Unfortunately the exhibition can only be seen at Windsor between 1 March and 22 April 2019 and will not be shown at any of the other palaces. Together with the other three exhibitions I visited in London it was well worth my four-day break in the UK. A friend, who had actually been outside the castle on the wedding day, accompanied me and loved to see the outfits back.
As you can imagine the exhibition in the Grand Reception Room is rather small, but you can walk all around the big glass showcase and watch it as long as you want. It is wonderful being able to watch everything from nearby. You’re not allowed to take pictures, but there is an engagement postcard and the official wedding souvenirs could, at least last month, still be bought.
Eugenie’s dress was my personal favourite of the British wedding dresses of the past years.
What is on display?
At the mini-exhibition you can see the wedding outfits of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, as well as the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara, the maid-of-honour outfit of Princesss Beatrice of York and the outfits of the bridal children. Take the audio guide with you, even if it is only to listen to the information about the wedding exhibition, partly told by the bride herself. According to the senior curator of the exhibition, Caroline de Guitaut, Eugenie was involved in every step of the way.
The bride’s wedding dress
The bride wore a wedding dress designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, from the British based label Peter Pilotto, founded in 2007. The dress was developed layer by layer, constructing it from the corset and the complex underskirt to the fitted bodice and full pleated skirt. The dress featured a neckline that folds around the shoulders to a low back that drapes into a flowing full length train. The low back feature on the dress was at the specific request of Princess Eugenie who had surgery aged 12 to correct scoliosis. In the audio guide she says about it:
“I had always wanted a low back, part of it was showing my scar. I believe scars tell a story about your past and your future and it’s a way of getting rid of a taboo. For me it’s a way of communicating with people who are going through either similar situations with scoliosis or having a scar of their own they are trying to deal with.”
She was highly praised for it and after the wedding received many letters about it. The fabric of the dress – very well visible at the exhibition – was designed by Mr Pilotto and Mr De Vos and included a number of symbols that are meaningful to Princess Eugenie as motifs. The symbols were a Thistle for Scotland acknowledging the couple’s fondness for Balmoral, a Shamrock for Ireland as a nod to the Bride’s Ferguson family, the York Rose and ivy representing the couple’s home. Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos have reinterpreted these symbols in a garland of rope like motifs, woven into a jacquard of silk, cotton and viscose blend. Once the artwork was completed, it was translated into a jacquard weave in the Como region of Italy. The result was a very modern looking fabric using a highly intricate weaving technique. Eugenie’s wedding shoes were satin peep-toe heels by Charlotte Olympia.
Eugenie wore the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara, lent to her by her grandmother. The tiara is on display for the first time. It was made for Mrs Greville in 1919 by the jewelry house Boucheron in Paris of brilliant and rose cut diamonds pavé set in platinum and rose cut diamonds pavé set in platinum. There are six emeralds on either side. King George VI’s wife, Queen Elizabeth, inherited it in 1942. Eugenie confessed in the audio guide:
“- I’ve never worn a tiara before in my life. It was the most incredible thing to wear such a piece of history that my grandmother had lent me, it was a very proud moment.”
In her ears Eugenie wore diamond and emerald drop earrings which were a wedding gift from Jack.
The exhibition features a replica of the bridal bouquet, made from artificial flowers. The bouquet consisted of lily of the valley, stephanotis pips, baby-blue thistles, white spray roses, trailing ivy and sprigs of myrtle from Osborne House.
The bride’s evening dress
At the evening reception Eugenie wore a pale pink silk gown – the colour of an English rose – with a full skirt, a high neck at the front and a deep V at the back. On the back there was a row of small buttons. The sheer train falls from a sheer cape. The design was by Zac Posen, whom Eugenie in the audio guide calls a “cool, fun, brilliant designer and friend”, who took his inspiration from the beauty of Windsor Castle and the surrounding countryside. The cape was subtly embroidered with the White Rose of York. About this dress Eugenie said:
“- I wanted something reminiscent of Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief so I showed that for reference and Zac came up with this silk that he’d found from Manchester. Every single draping effect, every single detail, every button, it’s all painstakingly done by him and his team.”
In her hair Eugenie wore two diamond wheat-ear brooches, lent to her by her grandmother the Queen. They were originally created for Queen Adelaide on request of her husband King William IV.
The groom wore a black and grey morning suit with a blue waistcoat, made by tailors at Huntsman on Savile Row.
Princess Beatrice of York
The blue maid-of-honour dress with an assymmetrical neckline of Princess Beatrice was designed by the London-based couture house Ralph and Russo. What I didn’t notice earlier is that the headband by the British milliner Sarah Cant is of a different colour than the ensemble itself: blue and purple.
The pageboys and bridesmaids
The outfits of Louis de Givenchy and Theodora Williams are on display. They were designed by children’s designer Amaia Kids. The pattern on the sashes is based on the work “Here” by the American artist Mark Bradford. This work of art also featured on the Order of Service.