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A Brief History On Royal Wedding Dresses And The People Who Made Them

We will never be royals, but we will obsess over what they wear down the aisle. From newly-minted royals to Hollywood royalty, these are the dresses you need to see.
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Whether you partake in the fervour, you have to concede to the fact that in an age of unsettling uncertainty and increasing chaos, royal weddings provide that picturesque escapism that so many of us seek, even from halfway across the world.

For decades, possibly centuries, the masses have been intrigued by the nuptials of the upper-upper-upper crust, with the creme de la creme of them all being the British monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, Lady Diana Spencer, Kate Middleton and most recently, Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, the fascination with royal weddings is very, very real. (I once came very close to buying a mug with Kate and Prince William on it, but ultimately didn’t because I was afraid it would shatter in my luggage. It is a decision that I regret to this day.)

Of the countless things that one can pick apart about a royal wedding – frankly, I feel that the minutiae of the banquet and the wedding cake deserve more attention, but that’s just me – the one that gets talked about the most is the wedding dress. The ultimate “who is she wearing”.

The newly-crowned duchess wore Givenchy! Clare Waight Keller’s Givenchy! A little off-the-shoulder with cropped sleeves and an A-line silhouette, the dress was minimal and modest – as royal wedding dresses usually are – and equal parts modern and timeless. You died, I died, we all died. Like Kate and Diana before her, it is a dress that will be remembered for generations to come. Possibly replicated to varying degrees.

Of course, Markle is not the first blue blood to rope in a known designer. Kate wore Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton. Her sister Pippa – blue blood by extension – wore Giles Deacon. Other European royals have worn the likes of Emilia Wickstead, Armani Prive and crowd-favourite Elie Saab.

There have also been royals who chose more unfamiliar names, though the dresses were no less spectacular. Diana, for instance, wore a dress by lesser-known British designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel, but her dress continues to be the repeatedly-referenced icon that it is over thirty years later. The same goes for Grace Kelly’s dress by Helen Rose, who was a costume designer at MGM.

With Prince Harry now officially taken, it will be a long while before we get another royal wedding – and dress – of a similar scale. But alas, there is always Hollywood’s own royalty to look to in the interim. With the amount of influence their lavish custom dresses have over to-be brides the world over, from Angelina Jolie’s scribble-covered Atelier Versace to Solange’s caped Kenzo, these Tinseltowners might as well be honorary blue bloods.

Above, we rounded 50 wedding dresses from real royals and honorary royals alike that we think you should see, whether you’re building your own or are just in need of a mind vacation. (Seven years on and I am still not over Kate Moss’ wedding dress. NOT OVER IT!)

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