1853 The Empress Eugénie, famous for her elaborate toilettes wedding dress chestofbooks

Empress Eugénie's basque-waisted wedding dress was the subject of many prints, including this one. There are often two weddings, one civil and the other religious. This would account for why she seems to be depicted wearing two different wedding dresses.

From chestofbooks, that accompanied this illustration with the following narrative from Every Woman's Encyclopedia, "...We will turn from the al fresco conditions of the runaway wedding to the pomp and ceremony that attended the marriage of the bride of Napoleon III., the beautiful Empress Eugenie, which took place in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, in the fifties of last century.

The young bride, whose mode of dressing made her the cynosure of neighbouring eyes, was exquisitely attired. Her dress was one of white terry velvet, with a very long train, and the basque bodice, which was cut high, was ablaze with diamonds of the most costly description and radiant with sapphires. Orange-blossoms mingled their pure loveliness with the gems. There was a magnificent display also of the richest lace, and point d'angleterre was the chosen kind, because it had been found impossible to procure as a veil the point d'alençon that it had been intended should be worn. The skirt of the gown was covered with lace.

The eminent Felix Escalier dressed the Empress's hair, which was always greatly admired, and, according to a picture of the period (here reproduced) it was arranged in smooth bands over the brow, with puffs over the ears. A superb coronet was placed as a glittering bandeau holding the lace veil in position. Orange blossoms were placed on each side. For a long time the Empress in her Royal marriage robe was talked about by the people, and from that day onwards, until untoward fortune befell the gracious lady's career, her exquisite choice in dress was the pivot round which the fashions of the world gyrated.

In the Royal Family of France, it has generally been customary to order for the decoration of a marriage toilette lace made in the country. When the Princess Helene of France was married in 1895 to the Duc d'Aosta, she wore an exquisite wedding veil, which measured four and a half yards in length, made of point d'alençon, on the groundwork of which was a beautiful floral design. The centre medallions enclosed the armorial bearings of the bridegroom, surmounted by the Cross of Savoy, the fleur-de-lys, and the arms of France. Her sisters at their nuptials wore lace of equal splendour, and with the heraldic significance applicable to their state..."

Keywords:  1853, wedding dress, Empress Eugénie, Empress, Bonaparte family, French, straight coiffure, veil, floral headdress, high neckline, floral bodice ornaments, basque waistline, full skirt, flounces, lace

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