When a high-profile woman gets married, her dress is likely to be the subject of great amounts of attention. Some of these gowns rise to the occasion and become icons in the world of bridal fashion. These gowns are historically important, not only because of the person who wore them, but because of the impact they had on the trends in bridal wear for years to come. These are our top choices for the best luxury wedding dresses of all time.
Kate Moss in John Galliano
Moss’s couture Galliano dress was inspired by the iconic looks of Jazz Age darling Zelda Fitzgerald. Moss chose John Galliano to design her dress after working with him for years, but Galliano credits the project with jump starting his creativity after a difficult time in his life. While most brides’ dresses end up in beautiful boxes in the back of a closet somewhere, Kate Moss’ gorgeous dress was the featured gown in an exhibit of wedding dresses at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Kate described the dress as:
…a classic Galliano, those chiffon Thirties kinds. I’ve lived in his dresses for years, and they just make me feel so comfortable. But it’s so much more couture, couture, couture. Oh, my God, the work that’s going into the dress!
Kate Middleton in Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen
The world held its breath and waited for a first glimpse of Kate Middleton’s wedding gown. The wedding of Prince William and Kate was such a public affair, and gown makers around the world knew that whatever choices Kate made would have a ripple effect throughout the industry. When she stepped out of her car, viewers were delighted to see that she chose a demure, sophisticated lace gown with long elegant sleeves. Buckingham Palace displayed the dress following the wedding, raising nearly 8 million pounds for Kate Middleton’s own charity fund and palace renovations.
Lady Diana Spencer by David and Elizabeth Emanuel
Of course, we cannot bring up iconic wedding dresses without mentioning the lavish gown worn by Diana Spencer during her wedding Prince Charles. The over-the-top fairy tale gown was made of ivory silk taffeta that was decorated with hand embroidery, sequins, and 10,000 pearls. The train was 25 feet long, and the veil even longer. Diana’s dress set the trend for bridal fashion for years to come; full skirts and large puffed sleeves became bridal mainstays for years after the wedding. The gown has traveled as part of a moving exhibition celebrating Diana’s life, but its main display location is in the family’s Althorp house.
Grace Kelly by Helen Rose of MGM
When a Hollywood darling marries an honest-to-goodness prince, the world takes notice. And that is just what happened when starlet and fashion icon Grace Kelly wed Prince Ranier III of Monaco in 1956. The head seamstress of MGM studios designed the stunning gown which was a gift to Kelly from the studios. Her now iconic gown was made of 125 year old Brussels lace atop a silk faille skirt. Three petticoats created the fullness of the silk skirt. This dress, perhaps more than all the others in this list, had an enormous impact on the world of bridal fashion. Oscar de la Renta later said:
On her wedding day, Grace Kelly gave new meaning to the word icon. Her whole look, from the regal veil to the feminine lace details and the conservative gown, made her an ageless bride.
Jacqueline Bouvier in Anne Lowe
The gown that Jackie Bouvier wore to marry John Kennedy in 1953 is known around the world, but the designer who worked tirelessly to create the iconic look often goes uncredited. When Bouvier was asked who designed her wedding dress, she replied that it was created by a “colored woman.” That woman’s name was Anne Lowe, who was commissioned to dress the entire wedding party. Just 10 days before the wedding, disaster struck.
The studio in which the garment were kept flooded, and 10 of the 15 garments were destroyed. Yet, somehow Lowe was able to recreate the lovely gown with its classic portrait neckline and embellished bouffant skirt in time for the wedding. The gown would go on to become one of the most well-known bridal gowns in history, but Lowe would die broke and unknown. Thankfully, Lowe is at least getting some posthumous acknowledgment as several of her gowns were put on display at the new National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C.
Each of these wedding dresses impacted the world of bridal fashion both in their own time and for years after. We hope you can take inspiration from these singular gowns for your own bridal wear. If you could choose one of these gowns to wear on your wedding day, which would it be?
Looking for a gown for your wedding? Be sure to see our picks for couture wedding gowns!