Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock celebrated their marriage with a Roman-Catholic ceremony held in the inner courtyard of The Prince’s Palace in Monaco on July 2, 2011.
Giorgio Armani Privé created a sleek gown for Charlene with a portrait collar neckline and fitted body cut from 50 meters of pearly silk duchesse and 80 meters of silk organza. The designer’s niece, Roberta Armani, gave some insight behind the dress in an interview with Vogue, saying, “My uncle wanted to make sure the dress was timeless and sophisticated. Charlene is blessed with an amazing body and spectacular shoulders, which is a fantastic base for any dress. The shade of ivory we chose suits her skin so well.”
The gown’s silhouette opened just below the hip to a wider skirt that flowed into a cathedral length train. An additional, detachable, five-meter long train attached from the back of the portrait neckline.
While the second train gave a grand, regal, sweeping look to the back of the dress, it appeared heavy and difficult to maneuver.
Interestingly, Charlene removed it during the registry signing, processing out of the place courtyard with her new husband without it. This removal revealed covered buttons up the back of the dress (below right) which had been hidden when the train was attached (below left).
You’ll also notice that the front view of the dress shows a noticeably different silhouette without the second train.
Train issues aside, what shines on this dress is its cut and its embroidery. Scrolling down the dress front to the hem and around the edge of both trains, a delicate floral pattern was embroidered in platinum-coated embroidery thread incorporating 40,000 Swarovski crystals, 30,000 gold stones and 20,000 mother of pearl teardrops. Roberta Armani reported that 3 seamstresses worked 2,500 hours on the dress and veil with 700 hours devoted to embroidery alone. The embroidery gave an exquisite delicacy to the dress’ stark lines and sparkled in the sunlight, giving the most beautifully dimensional effect that brings the gown to life.
Armani used 20 meters of silk organza for the veil, delicately edged in tiny hand embroidered seed pearls. Anchored at the back of her head, the silk billowed over her face in the prettiest, lightest cloud.
Charlene anchored the veil with 19th century diamond hair clips inherited from Princess Charlotte (Albert’s grandmother), borrowed from Princess Caroline. I remember at the time of this wedding adoring how the traditional jewels were worn in such a modern way, tucked around Charlene’s chignon to beautifully frame her face from side views and link so perfectly with the sparkling floral embroidery on her dress. The combination of dress, veil, hairstyle and headpiece made such a beautiful look.
Prince Albert wore the summer uniform of Monaco’s Palace Guards with gold leaf and crown embroidery on the epaulettes and sleeve cuffs and brass buttons monogrammed with his personal cypher. Even with a black tie and a bit of sparkle from the Order of Saint Charles, the Order of Grimaldi, and the French Legion of Honor, it’s rather bland, particularly with the white shoes. Understandably, even Princes don’t have input or choice when it comes to the design of a military uniform but this one is not a head turner.
Princess Charlene was attended by two friends, Isabell Kristensen in a taupe silk gown of her own design and Donatella Knecht de Massy (wife of one of Prince Albert’s cousins) in a pale grey-green v-neck gown with matching, minimalist bandeau headpiece.
Albert and Charlene chose seven 7-year old girls from different areas of the principality to round out the wedding party. Princess Caroline worked with Jean-Christophe Maillot, director of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, to create their ensembles, based on traditional Monagasque folk costume.
Along with the red and white striped skirts trimmed in black ribbon, ruffled blouses, aprons and pyramid natural straw hats that characterize this traditional dress, these ensembles also included Albert and Charlene’s monogram embroidered on the silk stockings and aprons, which also were stitched with the name of each girl’s home region of the principality. Finally, the couple gifted each girl with a gold cross they wore, fastened on a black velvet ribbon. Each outfit took more than 120 hours to create and formed a thoughtfully patriotic nod to Monagasque heritage.
For the evening wedding dinner and ball at the Opera Garnier, Princess Charlene wore a second Armani Privé dress of white silk chiffon with a high, sheer neckline and four-tiered fluted skirt, hand embroidered with dangling beads and Swarovski crystals. She explained to Vogue, “The wedding dress is pretty heavy so I wanted to change into something light, soft and easy to move in for the evening.” Charlene topped the effervescent gown with a sleek, contemporary tiara, custom made by Lorenz Baumer and commissioned by Prince Albert for a wedding gift. The modern lines of the tiara suit Charlene so well, it’s a shame she has not yet worn it again.
This wedding was a mix of traditional elements contrasted with a very modern bride who seemed not to venture far from her normally streamlined sartorial aesthetic. Nine years on, how does this stand up for you?
Jump to this post for an index of all the royal hats that appeared at this wedding.
Photos from Getty as indicated