Ten years ago today, a royal wedding was scheduled to take place in Windsor. After being postponed by one day (to accommodate the funeral of Pope John Paul II), the world watched as Prince Charles finally married his long time love, Camilla Parker Bowles. Camilla’s long time relationship with the prince made her rather unpopular and let’s be honest- hopes for her wedding fashion were not running high. With just six weeks to create two bridal ensembles for this second time bride, designers Antonia Robinson and Anna Valentine and milliner Philip Treacy had an immense royal challenge. What they created not only wowed on the day but began a complete transformation of this admittedly no-fuss and outdoorsy woman into a future Queen.
Charles and Camilla’s wedding began with a civil ceremony at Guildhall in the town of Windsor. For this, Robinson Valentine created a simple silk chiffon dress hemmed with vertical rows of appliqued paillettes made in Switzerland. A single row of these round disks finished the neckline of the dress.
The dress was topped by a beautifully tailored coat in oyster basket weave silk with herringbone stitch embroidery. Camilla pinned a pearl and diamond Prince of Wales feathers brooch on the lapel of the coat and wore pearl drop diamond earrings. Her pale beige suede shoes were from L.K. Bennet and her cream leather and suede clutch purse was from Launer’s “East/West” collection.
Camilla’s elegant ensemble was topped by a show stopping picture hat. Made of natural cream straw, the hat featured a flat pillbox style crown atop a large mushroom shaped brim. The lattice woven brim and crown were overlaid with ivory French lace and the front of the hat was adorned with feathers – curling feathers, arrow trimmed feathers and a spiky dahlia flower also made of feathers. The use of lace gave the hat a distinctly bridal aura while the shape and feather trim made it so modern and chic. It was, in a word, perfection.
For the religious blessing, which took place in a service at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, Camilla changed into a floor-length porcelain blue chiffon gown. The gown was topped by an exquisite blue silk coat which swept into a short train. The coat’s subtle ikat pattern was painted onto the silk, then hand-embroidered with gold thread and the result was an ethereal gown that shimmered in the light. Clarence House released a statement about the coat and dress, saying, “Robinson Valentine believed the dress required a sense of occasion for St George’s Chapel and so the aim was a flowing, elegant line, concentrating on proportion, fit and silhouette.” They certainly nailed it.
Philip Treacy drew from the coat’s gold embroidery, designing a spectacular headpiece of gold leafed feathers tipped with Swarovski crystals. While the piece was considered rather avant garde ten years ago, the proportion was perfect for Camilla and worked beautifully with her colouring and hairstyle. The headpiece was a wonderful pair to Robinson Valentine’s exquisite coat and heralded Camilla’s arrival as someone to watch in the world of royal millinery. You can watch Philip Treacy’s thoughts on creating this headpiece in a video at this post. Camilla’s earrings were family heirloom pieces that you can read about at this post over at Her Majesty’s Royal Jewel Vault.
Finding the right balance of elegance and glamour is tough for any mature bride. I think in Camilla’s case, the challenge was even tougher. While the world was waiting to tear her to shreds (again), she stepped out looking tranquil, elegant and the most beautiful she has ever looked. After years of much publicized Camilla bashing, it was such a great sight to see.
Stay tuned first thing tomorrow for the hats worn by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s immediate families.
Photos from Getty as indicated