PRINCESS ISOLDE OF IRELAND by C. M. Rubin and Theresa Blake
On April 29, 2011, Westminster Abbey will be the setting for the most anticipated wedding of the year — the Royal Wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and Kate (Catherine) Middleton. To honor the event, author C.M. Rubin and designer Theresa Blake have joined forces to bring you a series of stories which focus on wedding dresses worn by famous Royal Princesses and Queens over the centuries that continue to inspire wedding dress designers and brides to this day. Who knows? Perhaps one of these historic royal gowns has already inspired the best kept secret for April 29, 2011 — what will Princess-to-be Kate Middleton be wearing?
The legendary love story of Tristan and Princess Isolde takes place in the fifth century during the reign of King Arthur. Princess Isolde of Ireland was the daughter of King Angwish of Ireland. There are several versions of the story behind the legend; here is one of the popular ones. The beautiful Princess Isolde was betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall. King Mark sent his handsome nephew, Tristan, to bring home his bride, the Princess Isolde. However, during the journey back to Cornwall, Tristan and Isolde fall madly in love with each other. Princess Isolde goes ahead and marries King Mark upon arrival in Cornwall but continues to see Tristan. King Mark finds out and banishes Tristan from Cornwall. Tristan moves to King Arthur’s court and later to Brittany where he meets and marries Iseult of Brittany (because of her resemblance to Isolde). Tristan, however, is unable to consummate the marriage because of his strong feelings for his true love, Princess Isolde. Tristan falls ill and sends ships for his beloved Isolde. The returning ship’s white sails are the lovers’ signal that Princess Isolde is coming back to Tristan. Iseult lies to Tristan, telling him that the white sails are black. Tristan dies of grief before Isolde can get to him. Soon after, Isolde too dies of a broken heart.
Theresa Blake’s design for Princess Isolde’s wedding gown, shown below, is inspired by the famous painting, “The Accolade,” by Edmund Blair-Leighton, seen above. The white gown of duchesse satin has a sumptuous, multi-layered chiffon skirt and dramatic, flowing, medieval style, long hanging sleeves. The lightly corseted bodice is laced at the back to emphasize the silhouette. A belt of dazzling jewels and facetted stones surround the Princess’ hips.
C. M. (Catherine) Rubin and Theresa Blake met when they collaborated on a reproduction of the design of the original wedding dress worn by Alice Pleasance Liddell (the Alice behind Wonderland) at her wedding in 1880 in the world reknowned Westminster Abbey in London. An illustration of Alice Liddell’s dress was featured in C.M. Rubin’s bestselling book, The Real Alice In Wonderland.
To Dress A Princess