The A-lister wore this strapless dress three times, but none more special than on her wedding day.
There are perfectly good celebrity style moments, and then there are the looks that really stick with you, the ones you try desperately to recreate at home. In ‘Great Outfits in Fashion History,’ Fashionista editors are revisiting their all-time favorite lewks.
I have long been a fan of Keira Knightley‘s red-carpet style. There’s something that always feels so effortless to the whole affair. I’m sure that bone structure really helps, honestly, but she also seems perfectly unfussy. She also, as it happens, wears a lot of Chanel, a perk of being a friend and face of the house.
While there have been a lot of standout Chanel moments in Knightley’s past, none is more memorable or more chic in my mind than the strapless dress she wore — or, more appropriately, re-wore — to marry James Righton in 2013. It was an off-white, greige, nearly pale-pink strapless chiffon number, reportedly from Chanel’s Spring 2006 Haute Couture collection, which first made an appearance on Knightley all the way back in Feb. 2008, when she attended a pre-BAFTA party with ex Rupert Friend (pictured below). She wore it with opaque black tights and black satin pumps.
The dress found a second — and in my opinion, much better — life on May 3, 2013, when Knightley married Righton in an extremely low-key ceremony in Mazan, a tiny village in the south of France. I could literally cry thinking about the beautiful simplicity of the paparazzi photos of her hand-in-hand with Righton literally skipping into the Mairie in her already-worn (!!!) Chanel dress, completed with a Chanel boucle jacket customized to match the dress by none other than Karl Lagerfeld himself, a pair of the brand’s signature cap-toe flats and a flower crown. She looks so happy, so cool, so insouciant with her black shades and undone hair. It’s entirely possible I have never seen anything so damn chic in my entire life.
“I’d worn the dress lots. It was my something old,” Knightley told the Telegraph in 2014. “And I liked not making a big deal about it. I just wanted to be in something I had had a great time in, something I would have a great time in again.”
(Actually, it’s really funny, because writing this piece reminded me I interviewed Knightley at the Nov. 2012 premiere of “Anna Karenina” and she told me she didn’t know what she was going to wear to her wedding. “I have no idea, because I haven’t actually even started to think about how the hell I’m going to get married,” she said at the time. “So once I think about that, I’ll try to think about a dress.” Great job, Keira! Also, I’m sorry I asked such an intrusive question!)
Knightley wore the dress out in public a third and final time in Dec. 2013 (pictured at the top of this story), this time slipping a long-sleeved, beaded bodysuit underneath and adding a pair of gold strappy sandals from Jimmy Choo.
It’s almost unheard of for a celebrity to publicly wear something three times, least of all something so well-known, even as sustainability and upcycling become buzzwords among the red-carpet community. But it doesn’t sound like we’ll be seeing the dress again any time soon.
“It’s now got red wine spilled down the front because the last time I wore it my friend went like this,” she told the Telegraph, jutting out her elbows, “and now it’s everywhere. I didn’t quite realize the extent of it until I got home. It’s quite impressively splattered. But, hey, a good night is a good night and when a dress has had its time, maybe it’s had its time. I’m pretty sure I can get it out but, if I can’t, I’m happy with the memory of a good night and the story of how the dress got destroyed.”
The dress may be in ruin and Knightley may have opted for a custom Valentino number for her secret, more official wedding ceremony, but as far as I’m concerned, her head-to-toe Chanel look is the high water mark for bridal outfits.
Shop more party- and wedding-ready dresses in the gallery below: