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This royal bridesmaid dress, worn at Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding, is up for auction at Christie’s

It was a “magical moment” for British model Kate Moss when she wore the bridesmaid dress.

Exuding a whimsical charm and vintage allure, this gown has the timeless elegance synonymous with British designer Norman Hartnell’s creative vision and regal touch. Once adorned by the late Lady Elizabeth Longman (née Lambart), a cherished confidante of the late Queen, its journey through fashion history is steeped in prestige.

Norman Hartnell royal bridesmaid dress worn by Lady Elizabeth Longman
The late Lady Elizabeth Longman wearing Norman Hartnell’s bridesmaid dress at the Royal Wedding of 1947.

Previously showcased at The Fashion Museum Bath from the 1980s to the early 2000s, this exquisite piece will captivate audiences once again during its public viewing in London from June 28 to July 2. Finally, it will await at Christie’s London, where it will take center stage during The Exceptional Sale as a part of Classic Week’s illustrious lineup on July 2.

How did Mr. Hartnell’s design become a favorite for the royals? Well, Mr. Hartnell’s royal connections began in 1935, when Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, entrusted him with the creation of her wedding ensemble. Not only did he craft her bridal gown, but also the resplendent attires for her bridesmaids, which notably included Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

Norman Hartnell royal bridesmaid dress worn by Lady Elizabeth Longman

Captivated by Mr. Hartnell’s artistry, the Queen Mother developed a fondness for his designs and bestowed upon him a prestigious Royal Warrant in 1940. The designs of his creations also reflected the happenings of that era.

One of the most important commissions of his career was from the Queen Mother to fashion not only her gown, but also eight bridesmaid dresses for the Royal Wedding of Late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1947, a milestone eclipsed only by the grandeur of the Coronation in 1953.

Norman Hartnell royal bridesmaid dress worn by Lady Elizabeth Longman

These exquisite creations, adorned with delicate floral motifs, symbolized a blossoming post-war Britain, drawing inspiration from the lush imagery of Botticelli’s Primavera and the opulent fashions of Victorian England. Mr. Hartnell also found inspiration in the elegant portrayals of the Royal Family by Winterhalter and Hayter, infusing his designs with a timeless allure that transcended mere fashion.

This particular gown was worn by Lady Elizabeth Longman (1924-2016), who was born to the 10th Earl of Cavan, a Field Marshal, and his wife Joan (née Byng), who served as a lady-in-waiting to The Princess Royal. Notably, Lady Elizabeth’s godparents included Queen Mary and Princess Mary, The Princess Royal, fostering close familial ties that led to her lifelong friendship with Princess Elizabeth (later H.M. Queen Elizabeth II). This bond saw Lady Elizabeth honored with the role of bridesmaid in 1947.

Norman Hartnell royal bridesmaid dress worn by Lady Elizabeth Longman
Kate Moss, wearing the Royal Bridesmaid Dress, with Lady Elizabeth Longman, who passed away in 2016.

Benedict Winter, Christie’s Specialist, Private and Iconic Collections shared, “Christie’s is privileged to be offering this evocative and rare example of royal fashion history. This beautiful dress epitomises the glamour of Norman Hartnell’s commissions and the hope that the late Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s wedding gave to post-war Britain.”

When Lady Elizabeth Longman met supermodel Kate Moss at a magazine photoshoot, she allowed her to try on the dress, adding extra allure to this piece of history. This ensemble, therefore, is a chance for collectors to get their hands on this unique piece of royal heritage.

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