Why is it that certain wedding dresses - Grace Kelly's dress, Princess Diana's fairy-tale princess confection, Bianca Jagger's stylish suit - stand above the crowd and, decade after decade, captivate brides-to-be?

That is the question tackled by The Wedding Dress: The 50 Designs That Changed The Course of Bridal Fashion, on sale today.

PICTURES: INSIDE 'THE WEDDING DRESS'

Author Eleanor Thompson, curator of dress at the Brighton Museum, has created a collection of the legendary, the controversial and the most iconic wedding dresses of all time.

It isn't a long list of celebrities and famous women either; the focus is on the aesthetic and construction of the designers behind those now well-known gowns.

ICONIC WEDDING DRESSES

Starting with William Dyce's trend-setting white gown for Queen Victoria in 1840 and running through the dresses we all know and love (think Mainbocher for Wallis Simpson, Anne Lowe for Jacqueline Kennedy, Pierre Balmain for Audrey Hepburn, Carolina Herrera for Caroline Kennedy, Galliano for Gwen Stefani and - of course - Sarah Burton for The Duchess of Cambridge to name a few), Thompson's collection leads us right up to 2013 with Karl Lagerfeld's grand spring/summer show finale

ROYAL WEDDINGS THROUGH TIME

This beautifully illustrated book is sure to become an indispensable resource for brides. 

'The Wedding Dress: The 50 Designs That Changed The Course of Bridal Fashion,' Written by Eleanor Thompson, Prestel Publishing, £19.99; www.amazon.co.uk