Art Gowns: Empress D'Amore—A Cheeky Fairytale

By Resa McConaghy:

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl named Virginia who lived in the Empire D’Amore. Unfortunately, she was very poor, a seamstress for the wealthy merchants of the kingdom. One day, the Emperor D’Amore demanded that his son, Prince Will, marry. He decreed a holiday with a royal procession throughout the empire. All virgins of marrying age were to don their prettiest gowns and attend.

Virginia’s mind was on her sewing when the Town Crier made the announcement. What she heard, as his words floated up from the street and through her window, was “All Virginias are to don their prettiest gowns for the procession.”

Alas, poor Virginia had no gown. “I’ll make one!” she thought aloud. However, she had no lace nor gems to decorate it with. All she had was a modest piece of net, a length of marabou, and colorful scraps of silks from her rich clients.

Virginia decided to make the scraps into an luxurious abundance of braided trim. She braided for many days and many nights, then creatively attached the silk braids to the gown. When it was finished, her gown was far more beautiful than any of the bejeweled and otherwise overly embellished “Gowns of the Empire.”

On the day of the event, Virginia took her place along the procession route with hundreds of other girls in gowns. “My, my,” she said to herself, “I had no idea how many girls were named Virginia.”

As the parade moved past her, Prince Will was smitten with Virginia’s beauty and the uniqueness of her gown. He took her in his arms and asked her to be his future Empress D’Amore.

The Emperor announced to the cheering crowd that Prince Will had chosen his virgin bride.

“Oh dear!” cried Virginia, “I’m not a virgin, but my name is Virginia!” Hereupon, the Emperor’s men tore her from the Prince’s arms, and hied her away. Prince Will was left with naught but a handful of colorful silk braids.

Prince Will denounced his birthright, and with the colorful silk braids around his neck, he set out on his white steed to find his beloved Virginia.