Marie-Chantal Miller’s Wedding Dress & Tiara

The incredibly lavish events that marked Prince Pavlos of Greece’s wedding to Marie-Chantal Miller deserve a place in the history books. Last week we recapped the wedding festivites (click here for a refresher) and today we’re taking a close look at the bride’s couture wedding dress.

On the steps [Us Weekly]
On the steps [Us Weekly]
Since the couple became engaged during the Christmas 1994 holiday and the wedding took place on July 1 of 1995, there were just 6 months to pull everything together.  Marie-Chantal chose Valentino to design the dress and according to Vogue, it took more than 25 seamstresses to complete the £140,000 ivory silk gown. Twelve different types of lace reportedly were included in the dress and with a high neck, fitted bodice, and long sleeves Marie-Chantal wanted quite a traditional and modest silhouette. The bodice and sleeves are made of floral lace (much like Grace Kelly’s iconic wedding dress) and the lace extends to the empire line of the dress.

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It’s a beautiful gown but even with all the attention to detail it is not a favorite of mine- overall it just seems rather heavy – but I do love the lustre of the ivory silk and the detail on the skirt is gorgeous.

The bride & groom posed outside of the cathedral after the wedding [Vogue]
The bride & groom posed outside of the cathedral after the wedding [Vogue]
 In fact, the lace appliqué on the skirt is somewhat reminiscent of Kate Middletown’s Alexander McQueen wedding gown. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marie-Chantals’ gown was an inspirational reference for her. Check out both of the gowns on display below to see the similar affect they both have:

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Different and yet so similar – can you see it, too?

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I think what really takes the heaviness factor over the top is the chantilly lace veil; there’s just so much going on and those scallops are not dainty. I think a more diaphanous veil may have done the trick. Regardless, the veil extended beyond the length of the dress which was quite stunning, though.

Along with her intricate veil  Marie-Chantal wore a diamond and pearl encrusted tiara. This particular tiara is known as the Antique Corsage Tiara and it was on loan from her mother-in-law Queen Anne-Marie of Greece.

The Corsage Tiara [Hello!]
The Corsage Tiara [Hello!]
Queen Anne-Marie received it on her 18th birthday (gotta love the 18th birthday tiara tradition) and it has quite an extraordinary history. The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor – a fantastic blog- has a great post on this tiara here. Marie-Chantal wore the tiara at other occasions after the wedding, though nowadays she seems to prefer wearing three other tiaras at her disposal (perhaps they should be the subject of another post!).

In choosing Valentino, Marie-Chantal started something of a trend among royal brides including  Maxima, shown here at her 2002 wedding to Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. Maxima’s gown was made of silk mikado and has a similar silhouette to Marie-Chantal’s.

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Princess Madeleine of Sweden also chose Valentino as well for her 2013 wedding to Christopher O’Neill

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 as did Prince Amadeo of Belgium’s bride Elisabetta Rosboch Von Wolkenstein in 2014.

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Marie-Chantal remained friends with Valentino over the years and loaned her dress to be exhibited for Valentino: Master of Couture. This exhibit was held at Somerset House in London from November 2012 – March 2013 which gives us a great look at the detail of the dress. Here’s a better look at the train – it is separate from the skirt and extends from the waist.

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Marie-Chantal and Valentino posed in front of the dress at a private viewing before the exhibit opened which is quite sweet.

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The King and Queen of Greece showed up as well, and Marie-Chantal brought along her oldest child and only daughter Princess Olympia (more on her here).

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Marie-Chantal still wears Valentino and they seem quite chummy; she shared this instagram picture with the design legend en route to Princess Madeleine’s wedding.

A little instagram insights from Marie-Chantal [Hello!]
A little instagram insights from Marie-Chantal [Hello!]
So what are your thoughts on this wedding gown – too ornate and heavy or perfectly pretty and just right?

 

Marie-Chantal Miller & Prince Pavlos of Greece’s Wedding

In our last post, we recapped the speculation around Prince Harry and Princess Olympia of Greece and how closely linked the two royal families are (click here for a refresher). Basically, it’s wishful thinking for the time being on the part of the media but it really would make an incredible story. Case in point: let’s talk about that time Prince Pavlos married Marie-Chantal Miller in July 1995.

It made the cover of Weddings of Style! [Amazon]
It made the cover of Weddings of Style: A Guide to the Ultimate Wedding
The Engagement & Ring

Prince Pavlos and Marie-Chantal were set up by a mutual friend, Alecko Papamarkou at a dinner party in New Orleans where he arranged that they’d be seated next to each other. As Mary-Chantal later told Vanity Fair

I knew it was a big matchup, because Alecko had been telling me for weeks that he knew the perfect person for me. And I didn’t feel comfortable being set up. I tried to get out of it, but Alecko never returned my phone calls and we had arranged to meet at the airport. So I ended up going. I borrowed a navy-blue Chanel couture suit from my mother and looked like a million bucks.”

Pavlos’ take was very decided: “The moment I saw Marie-Chantal, I said, Well, this is what I’ve been looking for. Alecko was right.”

Over the next couple of years, Pavlos graduated from Georgetown (his cousin Crown Prince Felipe of Spain was a roommate) and Marie-Chantal moved to Washington to be nearby and to study at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. During Christmas 1994, Pavlos proposed on a ski lift in Gstaad, where the Miller family has a ski lodge.

A look at the ring! [InStyle]
A look at the ring! [InStyle]
He had a dainty cabochon sapphire and diamond ring made for M-C that had a lot of meaning. The sapphire came from his mother Queen Anne-Marie’s collection and he added a heart-shaped diamond to the side as a personal touch.

Pre-Wedding Celebrations

They set the wedding date for July 1, 1995 and the celebrations took place over several days (after everything was said and done, the bride’s parents took off for a relaxing yacht trip to recover).

The pre-wedding festivities included two parties hosted by Queens: Queen Elizabeth II hosted a tea party at Claridges and Queen Margarethe of Denmark, Prince Pavlos’ aunt, also hosted a luncheon for 100 on board the Royal yacht Dannebrog. She had travelled to London on board the yacht which was moored on the River Thames for the duration of the festivities which is a pretty great way to travel (the Danish Royal Family also arrived for the 2012 London Olympics this way).

Here she is aboard the yacht with Prince Henrik in 2006.

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And here it is ready to set sale in Copenhagen:

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Two nights before the wedding, the bride’s parents hosted  dinner for the 1,300 wedding guests at Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire.

Wrotham Park
Wrotham Park

The decor included thousands of Ecuadorian roses (a nod to Marie-Chantals Ecuadorian mother), large marquees made to look like the Parthenon, an antique carousel, and lots of dancing.  This little anecdote from one of the event planners Robert Isabell gives a good indication of the scale of this party:

 Called in at the last minute to advise on the Miller-Pavlos nuptials — there was a potentially catastrophic snafu involving miscalculated tent fabric — Isabell tells Miller’s mother he can save the event. “Could he come right away?” she asks. Isabell, Bond-like, responds: “I’ll take the Concorde and be there tomorrow. Get me a room at Claridge’s, and we’ll put this thing together.” [Wall Street Journal]

You can check out a picture of the Pavlos and M-C’s families all dolled up for the bash here. It all ended in a champagne breakfast in the wee hours of the morning and many of the guests left was the sun was rising.

The Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony took place on July 1, 1995. The bride converted to the Greek Orthodox Church prior to the wedding, and the service was held at St. Sophia’s Cathedral in London. The Cathedral held 450 guests and an additional 850 guests watched the wedding ceremony on large screens set up at Hampton Court Palace where the reception also took place (among those guests was Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother).

Here’s the bride with her father Robert Miller. Note that Marie-Cantal chose not to wear any eye makeup (in keeping with the tradition that true ladies don’t wear any).

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The ceremony can be seen in the Greek video below. If you want to skip ahead for some glimpses, Marie Chantal appears 15 minutes in and numerous royals can be seen on the steps of the Cathedral at 1:15. Interestingly, neither the bride or groom said a single word during the entire ceremony.

At the time, the media remarked that this wedding brought together more royals in London than Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding had. King Hussein of Jordan can be seen outside the Cathedral with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

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And here she is with Queen Silvia of Spain.

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As a side note, check out the sketch by Hardie Ames showing the outfit worn by Queen Elizabeth for the occasion.

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Other royal guests included the Prince of Wales, the King and Queen of Denmark, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Queen Noor of Jordan, and the King and Queen of Spain along with Prince Filipe and Infanta Cristina. Check them out gathered together for the portrait below  taken at Hampton Court Palace (M-C shared this particular shot on her Instagram page). Patrick Litchfield was the official wedding photographer and he was also the official photographer for Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding. Also of note – Pavlos and M-C’s monogram in flowers behind them all.

A wedding portrait shared by Marie-Chantal on her instagram page [hello!]
A wedding portrait shared by Marie-Chantal on her instagram page [Hello!]
A large floral monogram was also visible outside the cathedral. M-C and Pavlos still use this monogram- check out this photo of the tags on the christmas presents that she shared on her Instagram page this past holiday.

"Marie-Chantal's

 

The Bridal Party

There were four bridesmaids: Prince Pavlos’ young sister Princess Theodora, The Honorable Alexandra Knatchbull (goddaughter of Diana, Princess of Wales), Miss Marietta Chandris, and 19 month old Isabel Getty (daughter of Marie Chantal’s sister Pia).

Prince Philippos of Greece (Pavlos’ brother), Anthony Chandris, Sebastian Flick and Christian Robbs were the groomsmen.
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So all in all this is certainly a wedding that has gone down in history.

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What a shingding, am I right? Next up, a closer look at the wedding gown and tiara!

 

The Miller Sisters

Here is a tale of three sisters, two of whom became European princesses and one who became an American princess (that last one is a bit of stretch, but work with us here).

Quite a trio! (source)
Quite a trio! ( Source)

The three sisters are the children of American entrepreneur Robert Miller (the co-founder of Duty Free Shops) and his Ecuadorian wife Marie Chantal Pesantes and they have all lived pretty fascinating lives so far. The picture below was taken by Slim Arons in July 1991. Marie-Chantal is in the multi-colored bikini and sister is in yellow.

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PIA GETTY

Let’s start will the eldest sister, Pia, and work our way through. Born in 1966 in New York, Pia grew up in Hong Kong and, along with her sisters, went to boarding school in Switzerland. She studied at Bernard and in 1992 she married Christopher Ronald Getty at a wedding in Bali.

They have four children, Isabelle (1993), Robert Maximilian (1996), Conrad (1998), and Maximus (2002). Pia and Getty divorced in 2005 and she’s not a princess but considering that some folks consider the Getty family (along with the Kennedys, Rockefellers, etc) to be ‘American Royalty’, we’re going with it.

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She is not as in the public eye as her two sisters but has worked for Sephora and has a couple of documentaries under her belt. The photo below was taken in 2010 at a London event.

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Marie Chantal aka Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Greece, Princess of Greece and Denmark

Marie Chantal, the middle Miller, is next. She was born in London in 1968 and like Pia, went to boarding school in Switzerland. After that, she hopped around trying different things. As she explained to Vanity Fair:

“I went back to school, to Sarah Lawrence, then transferred to N.Y.U. Gallatin. Didn’t finish. I was so damned curious. I went and did things that would satisfy me, and then I would move on to the next. Instead of wasting four years at F.I.T. [Fashion Institute of Technology], after one semester I said, ‘O.K., that wasn’t it. Now I’m going to try singing.’ I knew I was artistic, and I wanted to do something in the arts. I wasn’t soul-searching. I have a huge sense of identity.

“Then I was in Paris for a year. I wanted to breed horses. Got into my whole equestrian look. And I also did the Escoffier School at the Ritz. I went across Italy and did a three-month art-history course. I always did healthy things. I didn’t sit around in nightclubs. Sure, I had my fair share of fun, but no one could ever accuse me of being a dilettante and doing nothing. I was always on this unbelievable quest to go and do. My father worried, I’m sure, but I think he also felt that eventually something would come up. And it did. I met Pavlos.”

She met Pavlos through a family friend and they became engaged over Christmas in Gstaad in 1995. They married six months later on July 1st, 1995. Marie Chantal wore  a Valentino gown and the reception was held at Hampton Court Palace.

The photo below shows Marie Chantal on her wedding day with her father Robert Miller.

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The bride’s title thus became Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Greece, Princess of Greece and Denmark. The Greek Royal family was abolished in 1973 but their titles are still in use. The commoner name for Pavlos is Pavlos zu Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.

The happy couple is below.

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Marie-Chantal and Pavlos have five children: Princess Maria-Olympia (1996), Prince Constantine Alexios (1998), Prince Achileas-Andreas (2000), Prince Odysseas-Kimon (2004), Prince Aristidis-Stavros (2008).

Fun Fact: Prince William is Prince Constantine’s godfather, while King Constantine (below in the glasses) is one of Princes William’s godfathers. The christening took place in London in 1999 while Prince William was still at Eton.

Prince William & his godson (Daily Mail)
Prince William & his godson (Daily Mail)

Another shot of the family is below.

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Marie Chantal now runs the children’s clothing company Marie-Chantal which has seriously cute stuff (Princess Estelle of Sweden is often seen wearing it).

Post Updated 1/18/16:

There has been some press speculation that Prince Harry and Marie-Chantal’s daughter Princess Maria Olympia are an item. Olympia is on winter break from studying in New York City, and thanks to her personal instagram account we know that her winter holiday has been spent in the Bahamas (her parents have a holiday home there), Los Angeles (where her aunt Alexandra lives), and England (her parent’s home base is in London and there’s also a house in Gloucestershire).

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She may have met up with Prince Harry over the England portion of the holiday and, if not, she’s more than likely to have met him before –  her godfather is Prince Charles and Prince William is her brother’s godfather as we discussed above. The picture below is of Olympia at her brother Constantine’s christening in April 1999.

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So it would make a great story – Princess Maria Olympia could wear one of her family’s tiaras for the wedding!-but for now I’m convinced it’s just gossip. What about you?

Here are some great articles from around the web for more on Maria-Olympia and her family:

A fascinating Vanity Fair article from 2008  [Vanity Fair]

Taller did a cover story on Maria-Olympia in 2014 [Tatler]

Hello! covered Maria-Olympia’s first week in New York City [Hello!]

ALEXANDRA MILLER

Next up is Alexandra, the youngest of the three sisters. She studied at Parsons School of Design and Brown University and has had a varied career in fashion and home furnishing design. She’s shown below with Marie-Chantal and Valentino in 1997.

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On 28th October 1995 (1995 was quite a year for the Miller family!) she married Prince Alexander von Fürstenburg, the son of Diane von Fürstenberg (of the infamous wrap dress) and Prince Egon von Fürstenberg in a lavish wedding in New York City. A photo of the bride in her beautiful gown and tiara can be found here.

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Alexandra worked as Creative Director of Diane von Furstenberg for ten years, during which time she helps to relaunch the iconic wrap dress.

The couple had two children, Princess Talita Natasha (1999) and Prince Tassilo Egon Maximilian (2001). They separated in 2002 amid claims of extramarital affairs on Alexander’s side (speculation around their relationship can be found here) and are now divorced, but seem to be on friendly terms.

Alexandra now runs Alexandra von Furstenberg which makes beautiful acrylic furniture and home furnishings (I love their trays!). When she opened her Los Angeles store her former mother-in-law and husband showed up.

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Alexandra married her longtime partner Dax Miller in July 2015 at their home in Los Angeles. So she became a Miller again!

The Millers! (Daily Mail)
The Millers! (Daily Mail)

What an interesting trio they are, right?

*Update: For more on Marie-Chantal’s wedding to Prince Pavlos, click here and for more on the Prince Harry and Princess Olympia speculation, click here.