of Priscilla of Boston TM
page is for appreciation of the designer and educational purposes
"Gowns by Priscilla of Boston for the White House Wedding of
Photograph by Harry Benson
for Life Magazine
Left: From her Massachusetts Studio, Priscilla Kidder holds aloft the custom made
banner of embroidery that will be sewn into the wedding gown of an American
was the second Priscilla gown made for an American President's
Baines Johnson chose a Priscilla gown almost a decade earlier in
1966. Both Brides knew, that the only choice for a venerable
American made wedding gown was from Priscilla of BostonTM
At Right: Priscilla Kidder personally escorted
Tricia Nixon's wedding dress to the White
House, with an armed escort of secret service agents. A first
class seat was purchased for the dress to ensure it's safe journey. The
story of the gown and the Priscilla of BostonTM
company was a featured cover
story in Life magazine in 1971.
History of Priscilla
Luci Baines Johnson and Pat Nugent Wedding Party consisted of 10
bridesmaids, 12 ushers, matron of honor, flower girl and ring
bearer. All created by Priscilla of Boston 1966
Priscilla Comins was born in Massachusetts
in 1918, at the height of World War I. After finishing her education at the New
England School of Design, she began her first a job at R.H. White's department store
as a wedding dress model. Eventually she was promoted to an assistant buyer in the
R.H. White's Boston bridal department. Bridal gowns became her
During World War
II, she met and married handsome James Norton Kidder,
a decorated pilot in the Army Air Corps. James Kidder had received a bachelor's degree in
economics from Harvard in 1937, and encouraged his wife to open her first
bridal shop in 1945. Her solo venture, called "The Brides
Shop," was located on Bostonís exclusive Newbury
Street. The timing of the end of World War II and the post war
demand for wedding gowns enabled Priscilla Kidder to prosper.
But it was her taste and sophistication that allowed her to excel as
an American designer.
From the early
onset, Priscilla's designs were
elegant and Worldly. She
began to design gowns that were European couture inspired, cut from
untraditional ideas and out of the box thinking without losing the
important component of All-American wasp upper crust formality so
prevalent in the romance of old Boston.
In 1956, Priscilla was chosen to custom design the bridesmaids' gowns
for Grace Kelly's fairytale wedding to Prince Rainier. She
was also responsible for the A-line shift and Watteau court train of French Alencon
and English net worn by Luci
Baines Johnson for her wedding in 1966 (shown at left and
also custom designed Julie
Nixon's bridal gown in 1968 and played a part in Tricia Nixon's gown in
Priscilla of Boston 1966
Luci Baines Johnson's
featured a flowing nine foot long Watteau* court train that fell out from
between her shoulder blades. In contrast, her gown was a structured
A-line shift, lined in heavy muslin.
Note how the gown barely brushes the
ground and is slightly raised in front for a peek of shoe; a design
element of the 60's. *The
Watteau gown, named because of Rococo painter Jean-Antoine Watteau
(1684-1721) has a train that falls from between the shoulder
blades rather than waist level.
Priscilla gown design heavily influenced prevailing wedding
fashions. When President Lyndon Baines
Johnson's 19 year old daughter, Lucy, chose a Watteau for her 1966 wedding,
the style quickly became a trend that lasted into the 1970's.
first of a few wedding gown designers (Maurer, Christos) to hand clip and place French and Belgian laces as a design
element, often preferring them pieced apart rather than whole.
Over the years
the usage of imported clipped lace over English net became her signature.
The work was time consuming and hands on, earning her a comparison
to couture Dior by one journalist.
Priscilla Kidder carries the Watteau Court train of Luci Baines Johnson up the steps of the
of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington,
D.C as Lucy walks arm in arm with her Father, American President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
courtesy: Life Magazine
Priscilla of Boston Gown
and other photos courtesy: Life Magazine
With LBJ standing by and Lady Bird helpfully extending a plate, Luci
Baines Johnson cuts the 13-tier, 300 pound, swan adorned wedding
cake at her White House wedding. Her Bridesmaids wore pink
gowns and veils!
Her wedding gown is sheer
English net over white taffeta. It was very likely lined in
heavy muslin and the English net floated as a top layer. The
net was pieced with hand clipped French Alencon placed extensively
in a repeating pattern, a specialty of Priscilla Kidder. The
extensive hand work is one of the reasons that her gowns still
appear as beautiful today as the day they were created.
NEXT: John Burbidge: Top Designer for Priscilla of Boston
Life Magazine June 18th 1971-
Life Magazine August 19th 1966
Modern Bride, The Bride Magazine, Brides Magazine 1949 to 1980
Additional Photography by Lauren Lavonne