Monday 24 June 2019

Simply stunning, two brides dressed to impress 55 years apart

Lady Miranda Guinness at her marriage to Lord Benjamin Iveagh in March 1963
Lady Miranda Guinness at her marriage to Lord Benjamin Iveagh in March 1963
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Both dresses were designed by Givenchy.

Meghan Markle's Givenchy-designed wedding dress was stunning in its simplicity. Designer Clare Waight Keller, artistic director of the French fashion house, created a pure white boatneck gown that was starkly minimalist.

But it framed the bride's shoulders most beautifully and emphasised Ms Markle's enviable waist.

The haute couture dress of double-bonded silk cady was cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza.

But in the days since the wedding, the dress has become a hot topic, with British-based New Zealand-born designer Emilia Wickstead claiming Meghan Markle's dress is "identical" to one of her own.

"Apparently a lot of commentators were saying, 'It's an Emilia Wickstead dress,'" she claimed.

The design Ms Wickstead is referring to is the eponymous brand's "Helene wedding dress" which also features a boatneck collar and long sleeves.

But Ms Wickstead was not the first designer to seek inspiration from such simple lines.

Lady Miranda Guinness - for whom the vessel The Miranda Guinness which once transported stout from St James's Gate to Britain was named - wore a remarkably similar dress on her wedding day back in 1963.

Both Meghan's and Lady Miranda's dresses were designed by Givenchy.

Miranda married Lord Benjamin Iveagh on March 12 of that year.

The couple were given Farmleigh as their wedding present by his grandparents, Rupert and Gwendolen Iveagh.

Lord Iveagh was the heir to the Guinness fortune and he served as chairman of the drinks company from 1965 to 1995.

His wife Lady Miranda, with whom he had four children, was chosen as one of the world's best-dressed women in 1979. As well as being a great beauty, she also had an innate sense of style that she indulged. She favoured Sonia Rykiel, Jean Muir, Georgio Armani, Valentino, Michelina Stacpoole, Yves St Laurent, Bruce Oldfield, Bellville Sassoon, Anouska Hempel and Thierry Mugler.

And Miranda loved the red de Lorean gull-wing coupe that she used to ferry her children around Dublin.

Sunday Independent columnist Lucinda O'Sullivan was an admirer of her sense of style.

"Her taste was unfaltering and exquisite," she recalled.

Sadly, the marriage was not to last and Lady Miranda and Lord Benjamin divorced in 1984.

When she celebrated her 70th birthday in 2010, there was a large party at The Guinness Storehouse at St James's Gate.

The old family home wasn't available. Iveagh House on St Stephen's Green is now the headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Miranda Guinness died later that year, just after Christmas, at her Wiltshire home surrounded by children, Edward, Rory, Emma and Louisa, and close friends.

The service in St George's Church in London, for which she had laid down some instructions in her final months, was conducted by the Venerable David Pierpoint, Archdeacon of Dublin.

"She was determined to see Christmas through with her family, even though she knew she was dying," the archdeacon told the congregation at the service.

Sunday Independent

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