Legacy Gown PreservationPreserving Your Wedding Dress in the Tradition of Princess Diana

The cleaning and preservation of your wedding dress is generally put on the back burner, as you deal with all the details and coordination of events necessary to prepare for the wedding itself.  However, once your big day has come and gone, the proper care and handling of your gown will allow you to enjoy it for years, and your family to enjoy it for generations to come.

So, What is Proper Handling?

Today show video linkWell, if you click on the video link that we found about the history and handling of Princess Diana's 1981 wedding gown during its U.S. Tour, you'll observe some basics that any textile consultant would insist you adhere to. (Note: please be patient with the 30 second cat food commercial that preceeds this interesting story. Also, look for this video link near the bottom of the page and not the Fancy Feast ad near the top of the page.)

  1. Wear gloves. In handling the gown after cleaning, always protect it from body oils, smudges, snags from finger nails, etc. by wearing clean, white (despite Meredith Vierra's use of black) gloves.

  2. Protect the gown from the elements using ALL NATURAL materials.  You can see that the Princess' gown was wrapped in archival tissue, and packed in a wooden crate.  NO PLASTIC or other man made goods.  WHY?  Plastic can off-gas, creating stains and often discoloring the fabric.

  3. Ease the stress. The gravitational pull from the weight of the gown can stress the fabric and stitches in the shoulder area when a dress is simply hung on a hanger. In the case of  Princess Di's gown, it is transported on a mannequin.  This supports the gown from both the shoulders and the waist.

  4. Protect the gown from atmospheric pollutants.  For the royal gown, it is always displayed behind glass.  For your purposes a museum quality archival storage box, such as the ones used and recommended by the Smithsonian, The Museum of  London, Metropolitan Museum of Art and other venerable institutions skilled in the art and science of textile preservation.

  5. Let it breathe fresh, clean air.  While it can't be seen in the photo, the display case base provides for a constant flow of filtered, dry, temperature controlled cool air throughout the case. Warm, humid, stagnant air with wild temperature fluctuations can lead to mold and mildew and fiber stress.

When Selecting a Preservation Service:Preservation box to avoid

  1. Run, don't walk, if they show you a wedding gown box with a plastic window.

  2. Walk out if they do not look for invisible stains. These stains can be the result of sugars from champagne and desserts, body oils and salad oils. Some stains are only visible under a multi-spectrum light and generally need to be removed with a different cleaning process. If they are not removed, these stains can caramelize, turning your gown yellow. Reversing theis process is more difficult than removing the original stain.

  3. Move on, if the preservation box has a glossy, plasticized finish.

  4. Ask what kind of tissue will be used to support and protect the gown, if they don't mention the words acid-free and/or ligne-free, they are not the service providers you want to entrust your dress to.Another preservation box to avoid

Of course, if you have any questions about our bridal gown cleaning and preservation services, email us at bridal@margarets.com, give us a call at (866) 454-2375 or visit our website.  Diana's might have been the gown of the 20th Century, but we recognize that in your world (and ours) the gown of the 21st century is YOURS!

Below are some photos from the video showing the care and handling of Princess Diana's 1981 gown.

Jan's Signature
Jan Bohn
Bridal Director
Margaret's Cleaners

Carey Emery
Carey Emery
Bridal Coordinator
Margaret's Cleaners
Direct: (858) 429-7261


Unpacking Diana's gown Unpacking diana's gown 2
Unpacking Diana's gown 3 unpacking Diana's gown 4

Gown display area

Watch the Today Show video