In 1840, Queen Victoria broke royal wedding tradition when she walked down the aisle in a William Dyce ivory silk gown. Though not technically the first woman of nobility to wear a white bridal gown, she is credited with starting the iconic custom (previous members of British aristocracy wore gowns woven with gold and silver threads, layered with velvet and ermine robes). A new book by Eleanor Thompson — a former curator at the Brighton Museum in England — charts the course of bridal couture from Victoria to Karl Lagerfeld. The Wedding Dress: The 50 Designs That Changed the Course of Bridal Fashion features the most celebrated nuptial designs from the past 150 years, from the Balmain ballerina-style dress Audrey Hepburn wore to wed Mel Ferrer in 1954 to the one-shouldered, ombré pink gown John Galliano designed for Gwen Stefani in 2002.
Click through the slideshow for a look back at some of the most influential wedding dresses in history: the 500 yards of ivory silk taffeta fashioned by Ann Lowe for Jackie Kennedy’s first wedding gown, the menswear-inspired Saint Laurent skirt suit Bianca Jagger wore in 1971, Yves Saint Laurent’s provocative 1965 wool cocoon dress, and much more.BEGIN SLIDESHOW