Princess Eugenie's Wedding Gown: A Closer Look at the Stunning Dress

Princess Eugenie made a big statement with her low-back wedding gown.
joyce chen wedding news expert the knot
by Joyce Chen
joyce chen wedding news expert the knot
Joyce Chen
Wedding News Contributor
  • Joyce writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in celebrity wedding features and pieces on wedding trends and etiquette
  • Joyce conducts interviews with real couples about how they’ve adapted to the challenges of wedding planning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
  • In addition to The Knot Worldwide, Joyce also regularly contributes writing to Architectural Digest, Paste magazine, Refinery29, and TODAY.com
Updated Oct 08, 2021

Princess Eugenie of York had a very specific vision for her 2018 royal wedding to Jack Brooksbank. The fashion-forward royal announced early on in the planning process that she would work with a British-based designer for her wedding gown. The granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II joined hands with the team at Peter Pilotto, and opted for a wedding dress that intentionally showed off a longtime scoliosis scar on her back.

Eugenie and Brooksbank married in Windsor Castle on Oct. 12, 2018, in a televised event that drew attention to a cause that was near and dear to the bride's heart: redefining beauty norms. "I think you can change the way beauty is, and you can show people your scars and I think it's really special to stand up for that," she said in an interview with ITV prior to the royal wedding. Princess Eugenie invited several representatives from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London to the big event as a way to express her gratitude for their support. Read on to learn more about the wedding gown itself, as well as some details about Princess Eugenie's second wedding dress, a stunning blush-colored design by American designer Zac Posen.

Who Designed Princess Eugenie's Wedding Dress?

Princess Eugenie went with an unexpected choice for her wedding dress: Peter Pilotto, a British-based label co-founded by Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos. The bride worked closely with the designer duo to dream up a wedding gown that paid homage to several royal brides, including Princess Diana and Kate Middleton.

Selecting Peter Pilotto was likely as much a political statement as it was an aesthetic choice, critics noted, which made Princess Eugenie's decision a particularly poignant one given the times. "Neither Mr. Pilotto nor Mr. de Vos [is] actually British, making Princess Eugenie's choice, whether consciously or not, a prime example of the potential complications and consequences of the looming Brexit, and what 'Britishness' actually means," the New York Times wrote. (Pilotto is Austrian-Italian and de Vos is Belgian-Peruvian.)

Previously, most members of the royal family had gone with British designers for their wedding gowns: Princess Diana worked with David and Elizabeth Emanuel for her memorable gown, Kate Middleton chose Alexander McQueen for her fitted lace dress, and Meghan Markle selected Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy for her modern look.

"[The dress] is the one thing that I was really decisive about," she told Vogue UK in the lead-up to her big day. "As soon as we announced the wedding, I knew the designer, and the look, straight away. I never thought I'd be the one who knew exactly what I like, but I've been pretty on top of it."

How Much Did Princess Eugenie's Wedding Dress Cost?

Though the exact figure isn't publicly known, Princess Eugenie's wedding gown undoubtedly cost a small fortune given her 1,000-person guest list. According to Insider, it is likely that the custom-made dress cost around $260,000 to make back in 2018, or the equivalent of about $271,000 today. By comparison, the Duchess of Cambridge's gown cost about $434,000 to create in 2011.

Given Princess Eugenie's place in the royal family, then, it is fitting that her gown did not cost nearly as much as Kate's, but is more on par with Meghan Markle's dress for her wedding to Prince Harry, which cost around $265,000 in 2018, or $276,000 in today's terms, according to Insider. To wit, Eugenie's star-studded guest list included everyone from George and Amal Clooney to Elton John and David Furnish.

The Style, Shape and More

Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos did extensive research into previous royal wedding dresses in preparation for Princess Eugenie's gown. In the end, they settled on a classic silhouette with a few modern twists: a corseted bodice with a full pleated skirt (a la Kate Middleton's or Grace Kelly's iconic gowns). The unique portrait neckline was reminiscent of Jacqueline Onassis's first wedding dress back in 1953, and featured fabric that draped around the shoulders leading to a low back that showed off Eugenie's scoliosis scar. A flowing cathedral-length train completed the look.

"I had always wanted a low back—part of it was showing my scar, and I believe scars tell a story about your past and your future, and it's a way of getting rid of a taboo," she says in an audio recording for a Windsor Castle exhibition featuring the gown. "For me, it's a way of communicating with people who are going through either similar situations with scoliosis or having a scar of their own that they are trying to deal with."

Accessories from Princess Eugenie's Wedding Day Look

Princess Eugenie wore several significant statement pieces to complement her custom wedding gown. Perhaps most memorable of them was the regal Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara, which she borrowed from Her Majesty the Queen herself. The tiara was originally made by Boucheron for Mrs. Greville in 1919, and featured rose-cut, pavé diamonds set in platinum, with six emeralds on either side. Eugenie also wore matching emerald drop earrings, a wedding gift from Jack Brooksbank. In hopes of having her scars be as prominent as possible, Eugenie opted not to pair a veil with the gown. She did, however, go all-in on a pair of custom satin Charlotte Olympia peep-toe heels.

Surprising Facts About Princess Eugenie's Wedding Dress

In keeping with her theme of intentionality, Princess Eugenie integrated several meaningful details into her wedding gown and look that may not have been immediately obvious to wedding guests or onlookers. As she told British Vogue prior to the wedding, "It's nerve-wracking because you want [the wedding] to be perfect but then you realize that you're going to be with the person you love forever and nothing else really matters... I want it to be beautiful and fun and to bring out our personalities as much as possible."

The fabric of the gown was specially designed for Princess Eugenie.

The Princess of York's gown was made of silk, but the pattern of the fabric itself was custom-made for Eugenie's big nuptials. Peter Pilotto took four symbols that held significance for the couple and integrated them into the wedding dress: a thistle that represented Scotland and their love for Balmoral; the White Rose of York, Eugenie's family flower; a shamrock to pay homage to Eugenie's mom Sarah Ferguson's heritage; and ivy, which represented the couple's home. "The result is a very modern-looking fabric using a highly intricate weaving technique," the palace shared in its statement.

The back of Princess Eugenie's gown had a big bow-like fold.

In consideration of the venue where the royal wedding would be held (St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle), the designers included a voluminous bow-like fold in the back of the dress to give the wedding gown extra texture and pizzazz. Designer Sassi Holford told Marie Claire that it is imperative that royal gowns have details that can be "seen from a distance" to match the grandeur of the venue itself.

Princess Eugenie's second wedding dress was inspired by Windsor Castle and her family.

For the second part of her wedding day, Eugenie changed into a fitted blush-toned dress designed by Zac Posen. And according to a press release from the Palace, the American designer took cues from both Princess Eugenie's wedding venue and her family. "The choice of [color] reflects the blush of an English rose," the palace said in a statement. "Mr. Posen took his inspiration from the White Rose of York."

Princess Eugenie's Second Wedding Dress

The bride's second wedding look was arguably just as stunning as the first, and also included several subtle details that paid homage to her family. Designer Zac Posen embroidered the family's symbol, the White Rose of York, onto both the shoulder and the back of the dress. The gown itself was made of British silk chiffon and gathered at the lower back before draping into a pleated full-length train. It also included a slinky cape that had fashion critics buzzing. In the audio commentary for the Windsor Castle exhibition, Eugenie explained that she drew inspiration for the show-stopping gown from another royal bride: Grace Kelly.

"I wanted something reminiscent of Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief so I showed that for reference and Zac came up with this silk that he'd found from Manchester," she said. "Every single draping effect, every single detail, every button, it's all painstakingly done by him and his team."

Watch Now

Up Next
  • Princess Diana in her wedding dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel in 1981.
    Princess Diana Wedding Dress: All About the Iconic Gown