After months of heated speculation about what Kate Middleton would wear to her nuptials, she turned out in a gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, long the betmaker -- and fashion industry -- favorite.
Classic and refined with a simultaneous nod to tradition and modernity, the gown, of ivory and white satin gazar, featured an ivory satin bodice, dramatically narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips (a trademark McQueen design), which emphasized Middleton’s sleek figure.
Handmade lace appliqué was used throughout the bodice and skirt and handcut individual lace flowers including the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock were incorporated into the design.
While a train about a third of the size of Princess Diana’s famous 25-footer finished the look, a tiara was the topper -- the “halo” tiara created by Cartier in 1936 and lent to Middleton by the Queen.
Sarah Burton, who took over as creative director at McQueen after the designer’s suicide last year, and most recently made headlines after designing Michelle Obama’s dress for the state dinner with China’s president, said in a statement, “It has been the experience of a lifetime to work with Catherine Middleton to create her wedding dress, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.”
Fashion pundits generally applauded the effort.
Avril Graham, Harper’s Bazaar executive fashion and beauty editor, who was covering the event in London said, “The silhouette was majestic without appearing overblown, beautifully constructed with just the right mix of femininity. A royal wedding with Hollywood style perfection.”
Mara Urshel, the owner of Kleinfeld’s, the famous NYC bridal store said, “It was worth the wait. It was an ode to Kate herself with little touches of Grace Kelly.”
Urshel believes the dress will spawn a trend, “Women are going to be asking for more sleeves. They now have the ‘Good Housekeeping’ seal of approval.”
“She stayed true to herself,” said Kimberly Lee Minor, chief fashion strategist for the Priscilla of Boston bridal group. “It’s a modern take on British heritage, and being married in a modern and romantic way.”
Robert Verdi, the celebrity stylist and TV personality liked the gown but said, “There was no ‘oh my God’ factor. It was quieter than I expected, and certainly modern. It wasn’t fussy or frothy, and it’s as sexy as you can get in Westminster Abbey.”
The real fashion moment, according to many, came as the bride’s sister, Phillippa Middleton (known as Pippa) came down the aisle, also wearing white Alexander McQueen -- a sleek, figure-hugging column.
“Pippa’s dress was the real knock-out,” said Verdi. Rachel Leonard, fashion director of Brides Magazine said, “I love Pippa’s dress, the strong ‘80s shoulders, the draped neckline. She might have people questioning how she could wear white for a wedding, and Kate might have thought twice about that dress.”
But Heather Levine, senior fashion editor of Theknot.com, said that despite the fact that “Pippa looked stunning in the clean, elegant silhouette, I don’t think she stole Kate’s thunder.”
Ah yes, and now for the knock-offs. Giant wedding dress manufacturer JS Collections will have a “replica” of Middleton’s wedding gown at Nordstrom.com by Sunday. It is expected to retail at under $1,000 available for delivery in August.
As for her other accessories, the veil is ivory silk tulle trimmed with hand-embroidered flowers. The earrings are diamond oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond drop and a pavé diamond acorn by Robinson Pelham, a gift from her parents. She's wearing ivory duchesse satin shoes with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework, and carrying a shield-shaped wired bouquet of myrtle (taken from a myrtle planted by Queen Victoria in 1845), lily-of-the-valley, sweet William and hyacinth.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth chose a yellow crepe dress with sunray beading at the neck and a matching hat with silk roses by Angela Kelly (the woman who of late has designed all the Queen’s clothes). The little bauble on her shoulder, Queen Mary’s True Lovers Knot broach.
The mother of the bride, Carol Middleton, is wearing a sky blue coat dress and matching coat by Catherine Walker, a favorite designer of the late Princess Diana, while the Duchess of Cornwall is in champagne silk and blue embroidered coat by Anna Valentine with a hat by famed London milliner Philip Treacy.
The young bridesmaids’ dresses, ballerina length with full, box-pleated skirts, have the bridesmaids’ names and the date of the wedding embroidered onto the lining.