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“Mirror, Mirror”

Selection from “Mirror, Mirror: Pippa wowed in white, but it actually was a throwback” by Elizabeth Wellington
featured in The Philadelphia InquirerJune 1, 2011

060111-Bridal-010Let’s face it, we are still talking about the sleek, white Alexander McQueen gown Pippa Middleton donned at her sister Kate’s April nuptials.

Not only did the cowl-necked showstopper score mega posh points, I think it will play a role in launching an all-white wedding party trend.

After all, while it may have appeared Pippa was snubbing tradition when she dared to dress in white, the royal family actually was giving a nod to Old World customs.

“It’s an ancient superstition,” said Clare Sauro, curator of Drexel’s historic costume collection. “The bridesmaid was thought to be a stand-in for the bride, and they often both wore the same color to confuse evil spirits.”

And it wasn’t just evil spirits that were a threat, Sauro added. People were looking to kidnap brides from wealthy families. The unbetrothed sister was the perfect decoy. (Speaking for all unbetrothed sisters, yikes!)

“Think of a very special package you wanted delivered on time. That is how families thought of brides at those times,” Sauro said. “And special packages need decoys.”

But brides – and their maids – didn’t always don white. Although the ancient Greeks wore white, brides of subsequent eras simply wore their “best” dress, which, depending on regional customs, ranged from navy blue in Europe and the Americas to red in Asia. That’s because white was nearly an impossible color for everyday folks to wear – it got dirty quickly. No matter where you were, the bridesmaids dressed in the same color as the bride.

It wasn’t until after Queen Victoria wore a white gown to her 1840 wedding to her cousin Prince Albert that it became fashionable for brides to wear the color again. Previously considered a color for the rich, white came to signify chastity and purity when Victoria, who was still a virgin when she married, adopted the color.

Continue reading the article here

Photo: Champagne gown with fitted bodice, tiered skirt and LED lights by Janice Martin Couture

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