Vintage Love at the Royal Wedding

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The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was on May 19, 2018 so I am terribly late on posting. There have been numerous commentaries on the hats worn at the Royal Wedding and I know we all have our favorites. But I wanted to write about one particular guest - Janina Gavankar because I love that she wore vintage and that it was such a huge hit with the media!

Alexandra Nea fashion illustrations

Abigail Spencer, Amal Clooney, Janina Gavankar & Lady Kitty Spencer


These gorgeous illustrations are by fashion illustrator Alexandra Nea, who lives in Sydney, Australia and watched the wedding with sketchbook in hand. You can see more of her work here and read an interview about the Royal Wedding illustrations here.

Alexandrea Nea illustration

Janina Gavankar as illustrated by Alexandra Nea

Janina Gavankar is a close friend of Meghan's and is a well-known actress and musician. She has appeared in True Blood, The League, The L Word and The Vampire Diaries.

The dress code for the wedding was strict:  Women were required to wear stockings and closed-toed shoes, to have their shoulders covered, and to wear a dress that was knee-length or longer. Hats were mandatory.

Janina worked with Los Angeles-based stylist Niki Schwan. They were "committed to creating something special and unique" but had no luck in reaching out to designers and showrooms. Determined and resourceful, Niki reached out to Western Costume Company, the largest costume house in the United States. They offer costume rentals (pre-history to 1990's), a research library, and in-house milliners, shoemakers and tailors.

 After lots of dress up, Niki and Janina chose a stunning orange dress from the 1930's with a built-in cape and to-die-for fringe that drapes to the ankles. Niki made a temporary alteration to the dress, gathering the skirt up to the right hip to shorten the length and modernize the silhouette. 

 Accessories include a vintage black straw hat dating to the 1940's (also from Western Costume), a YSL clutch purse, Sigerson Morrison pumps and jewelry by Coomi.  I love how she mixed vintage and modern for a fresh and unique look.

 If you are someone who would be mortified to see another woman in the same dress at an event, then shopping vintage is a great option whether it's for a wedding or the races. The items that have survived are usually one-of-a-kind.

I love thinking about the "many lives" an item has experienced from one owner to the next, worn and cherished over the years. My personal vintage collection lives a pretty boring life but the stock at Western Costume is rented out and may appear multiple times on stage and screen. There's a whole website dedicated to sightings - Recycled Movie Costumes.

The orange dress worn to the Royal Wedding has had at least one other "star" moment, appearing on stage in LuLu at Chicago's Lyric Opera. Costumes were designed by Kevin Knight. A huge thank you to Myron Elliot for recognizing the dress and sharing the photos in a costume design group on Facebook!

Lulu ay Lyric Opera

Lulu at Lyric Opera

The vintage dress on-stage at Lyric Opera Chicago

You can see the skirt's original length and drape. Janina's stylist also reversed the belt, placing the bow at center back.

If you work in costume and have seen this stunning dress in another production, please share! I'd love to hear more stories!

Alexandra Nea British royals costume design fashion history fashion illustration fringe dress harry and meghan royal wedding vintage wedding etiquette wedding hats Western Costume

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  • What interesting information in a great article thank you so much you know I love vintage!!

    Robin Chiesa on
  • I love the orange dress too.

    Rick Gonyo on

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