Princess Eugenie didn’t just wow her future husband when she walked down the aisle at St. George’s Chapel last week — she stunned Elizabeth Emanuel, who helped design the wedding dress of another royal bride, Princess Diana.
“It was very romantic and very beautiful,” Emanuel tells PEOPLE. “I think there was a 1940s glamour about her — she really has that movie star quality, like she’s from another era.”
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The bespoke dress, created by British label Peter Pilotto, featured a traditional corset and a wide, full pleated skirt but had modern touches like a sculptural bustle and a low back. “It had drama with the big skirt, but it wasn’t over the top,” says Emanuel approvingly, adding, “It was quite refined, but it made a statement too.”
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Following in royal tradition, the dress featured subtle floral motifs, symbolic of places close to the bride’s heart: Thistles for Scotland where the couple often spend time with her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth; a shamrock for Ireland, where her mother, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York’s family originate from; and the York rose and ivy to represent the couple’s home.
“I think she must have really enjoyed the design process,” says Emanuel. “It looked like the dress of her dreams.”
Creating Princess Diana’s elaborate wedding dress (which featured a 25-foot train!) with her then-husband David Emanuel for the late princess’ 1981 wedding to Prince Charles catapulted the duo onto the global stage, something she says Peter Pilotto and his design partner, Christopher De Vos, will likely experience.
“I think this will make them a household name because they did a really good job, and being quite a young label, I think it’s fabulous!” she explains.
As for comparisons to her mother’s wedding dress back in 1986, Emanuel — who now runs her own eponymous label, designing wedding dresses and evening wear from a studio in Mayfair — says, “Everything in those days was dramatic. In recent years, everything has been pared down. This one was ‘classic romance,’ which I think is great news for brides.”
Most importantly, choosing not to wear a veil and proudly displayed her scar on her back from surgery to correct scoliosis when she was 12, Eugenie chose a design that was a true reflection of herself.
“It was the perfect choice for her, and she looked relaxed and comfortable which is really important on your wedding day,” says Emanuel.