Ruffles must be magical. How else to explain the allure of a simple strip of cloth gathered along one edge or cut in gentle curves to produce a rippling line? Sumptuous and sublimely feminine, the ruffle has long been remarkable, an indicator of a person of consequence: In the court of Elizabeth I the ruff, a halo of gauzy lace, was an unassailable symbol of high standing. Never long out of fashion in the ensuing four hundred years, ruffles elicit an irrepressible emotional response somewhere between giddiness and enchantment -- just the kind of feelings you may have on your wedding day.
Ruffles themselves have many moods. They are imperial in profusion but profoundly elegant in a single sinuous line. In the 1920s the innovative French designer Madeleine Vionnet allied the ruffle with her revelatory bias cut to the lasting benefit of Hollywood screen goddesses. And when dressing for the happiest day of her life, a bride of any era would do well to remember Vionnet's poetic dictum: "If a woman smiles, her dress should also smile."