|Claire and Jamie's candlelit wedding in Outlander|
(All images from designer Terry Dresbach's blog)
December 19, 2016
For this 18th century wedding set in the Scottish Highlands, the costume designer wanted Claire—the bride and heroine of the Outlander series—to literally glow. “I wanted a dress that would be incredible in candlelight,” Terry Dresbach shared. This wedding—and forthcoming marriage and relationship of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser—was the foundation of the immensely popular Outlander books and subsequent television series, therefore the direction from the show’s creator (and Terry’s husband) was that “this moment needed to be a fairy tale.”
Of course as a fashion historian and wedding folklorist, I loved reading about the creative process of designing this gown. But I also write about the bride’s rite-of-passage, her personal inner journey, and her deep desire to be as beautiful as possible on her wedding day! In my 30 or so years working with brides, I find this desire for beauty a universal expression of the feminine spirit, tapping into a woman’s true goddess nature, her radiance.
“In the 18th century, metallic fabrics were made with actual metal woven into the fabrics,” explained Terry in Variety magazine. “When you put [the original costumes] in a room filled with candles, they just glow. They’re quite remarkable.” By incorporating delicate shavings of iridescent mica as well as an old, time-consuming embroidery technique using metal strands, Terry was able to be true to the spirit of the era while also creating something stunning and shimmering for Claire’s “reluctant” wedding ceremony.
Reading about the Outlander’s costume designer’s wish for Claire and her gown to glow, I thought of Regena Thomashauer, best-selling author and founder of the School of Womanly Arts in New York City. The heart of Regena’s work encourages women to find and express their true desires, their self-love, their inner and outer goddess, their glow. “Glow creates beauty in women of all ages, all body types, all backgrounds.” And when you glow, you not only want to dress to show it off, but you just naturally attract and inspire what’s beautiful in others.
Is that the reason women are so attracted to the fairy-tale quality of “being a bride”? The masculine power grid of modern culture doesn’t really encourage the rich, deep, loving expression of feminine values, so a woman’s wedding becomes a rather rare opportunity for her to glow; a time for full-tilt-boogie radiance! But I would encourage all women, every day—no matter where you are in your life—to open your heart, to shine your inner light, to choose radiance!
December 8, 2016
I've just finished watching Season One of "The Crown"—Netflix’ wonderfully royal, big-budget series chronicling the life of Princess, then Queen, Elizabeth. Created and written by the extraordinary Peter Morgan—who knows his way around clever royal dialogue and hidden emotions—the production designs are rich, the acting is superb and the costumes—by the marvelous Michele Clapton (of Game of Thrones fame!)—are beautiful!
One of the famous gowns the costume designer recreates for the first episode of “The Crown” is Princess Elizabeth’s 1947 wedding gown by couturier Norman Hartnell. I write about it in my book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding….here’s one book excerpt I thought you’d enjoy:
Although a wet and dreary November day, Princess Elizabeth’s wedding in 1947 was a shining break from the austerity of the grim post-war years. Her ivory silk satin gown was glamorous, opulent and symbolic. The silkworms used to make the silks both in Scotland and England were brought from Nationalist China instead of “enemy silkworms” from Japan or Italy. Designer Norman Hartnell was said to have been inspired by Primavera, Botticelli’s fifteenth-century painting; he had the gown and long silk tulle court train intricately hand embroidered with thousands of tiny crystals and seed pearls in garland designs of jasmine, smilax, lilac, and York rose blossoms. Since Great Britain was still in recovery from World War II, and since even the future queen needed ration coupons for her wedding gown’s fabric, women from all over the country sent their coupons for their much-loved Princess to use. They were politely, and with messages of deep gratitude, returned by the Palace.
(Order your own copy of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride and read more about glorious royal wedding gowns!)