Preciosa Components and the Věra Čáslavská Foundation have made a replica of the wedding tiara of the legendary sportswoman after 50 years. The tiara now amazes visitors at an exhibition in Mexico City where Věra Čáslavská sensationally reigned at the Olympics in 1968, and even got married during the Games.
The Zócalo square in front of a gigantic cathedral in Mexico City is filled with an excited crowd. “Vera, Vera, Vera,” they all chant in unison. Millions of people are watching live on TV around the globe. It’s 26th October 1968 and Věra Čáslavská is getting married in the biggest cathedral in Mexico. She says ‘yes’ to Czech athlete Josef Odložil.
Čáslavská is wearing a beautiful white gown embroidered with gold, and a delicate tiara embellished with crystals. Soon after the wedding, both the dress and tiara are the most in-demand items on bridal market, the same as we see nowadays with Kate Middleton or Meghan Markle. Every girl would love to have the same wedding outfit.
“After returning home, every young bride wanted the same tiara and so my mum was lending it to many girls,” explains Radka Čáslavská, daughter of the legendary gymnast. But one day, it was gone. “It just did not come back,” she adds.
And it was because of this iconic jewel that the Věra Čáslavská Foundation got in touch with Preciosa Components earlier this year. They wanted to re-create the tiara to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Věra Čáslavská´s sensational triumph at the Olympics, as well as her wedding.
“We prepared an exhibition called Věra 68 in Mexico City. It will last until January 2019, and the visitors to Múseo de las Culturas and Cinetéca Nacional can admire some personal items and other artefacts connected to Věra Čáslavská´s life. We already had the original wedding gown, only the crown was missing, so the exhibition is now perfect,” says Kateřina Machů, board member of the Věra Čáslavská Foundation. “At the same time we throw many other events and exhibitions,” Machů adds.
The tiara played an important role in the wedding from the very beginning. The ceremony was supposed to be very small and private. Čáslavská, who had been extremely popular since her victories in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, didn´t even want to reveal that the marriage was happening in Mexico. But of course, nothing happened the way she planned.
“One girl from the gymnast team had seen the tiara in my mum´s luggage, and from that moment the secret was out,” Radka Čáslavská explains. “Mother wanted to get married in a tiny chapel in the Olympic village, but once the Mexicans found out they started looking for something bigger. They all wanted to attend the wedding. In the end, it took place in the biggest cathedral in Mexico, and even this was by far not big enough,” Čáslavská continues. The papers were referring to fifty thousand people, some even hundreds of thousands. It was a marriage of “la novia”, as Čáslavská was affectionately nicknamed by them. The Mexicans, who have loved Věra Čáslavská since then and still love her, were ecstatic about the event.
It is little wonder then, that beside the title of the best sportswoman of the world, Čáslavská was voted second most popular woman on Earth in 1968 after Jacqueline Kennedy. The tiara, recreated today from more than 2.3 meters of metal chain with the finest Bohemian crystal from Preciosa, is the ultimate symbol of Věra Čáslavská´s triumph. The world will admire it exactly 50 years on from the wedding ceremony.
“The Věra Čáslavská Foundation would like to express our fondest thanks to Preciosa for helping us to re-create the crown using only pictures. We are extremely proud to unveil the crown in Múseo de las Culturas in Mexico City. The exhibition will open its doors on 26th October and the famous tiara will be a huge surprise for everyone,” closes Radka Čáslavská.
Věra Čáslavská (3 May 1942 – 30 August 2016) was a Czechoslovak artistic gymnast and Czech sports official. She won a total of 22 international titles between 1959 and 1968 including seven Olympic gold medals, four World titles and eleven European championships. Čáslavská is the most decorated Czech gymnast in history and one of only two female gymnasts to win the all-around gold medal at two consecutive Olympics.
Wedding picture of Věra Čáslavská: Věra Čáslavská Foundation