I know it may sound cheesy, but when I learnt the Royal Wedding was planned for April 29th – a Friday – I was more than happy: Friday is one of my free days from school, so I was really looking forward to watching the ceremony on tv. I am not a monarchy supporter, but I must admit the British Royal Family has always had a particular charm to me, but I guess this is somehow due to my passion for anything British (it’s not a case I teach English language and literature).
Rumours have circulated about the designer of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, but when I heard Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen, had been spotted arriving at the Goring Hotel in Londo, my heart leapt up. You know the name of the McQueen fashion house is somehow sacred to me, so knowing that the British designer’s legacy was somehow involved in the wedding of the decade filled my heart with joy. But enough: here is the dress, with some details about the model and the fabrics, a fascinating story of British craftsmanship and tailoring tradition.
Many have pointed out this dress is similar to the wedding dress worn by Grace Kelly in 1956, designed by Helen Rose, wardrobe designer at MGM. It’s true some details are reminiscent of Grace’s dress, but let’s focus on the one designed by Burton. The ivory number was made with ivory and white satin gazar: the pleated skirt had the shape of a blooming flower; both bodice and skirt had lace appliqués. English Cluny and French Chantilly lace, hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, was appliquéd using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique; this means “individual flowers have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design, which incorporates the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock” (the emblems of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
The pictures above shows the beautiful train of the dress, 2.70 metres long. I think the dress was magnificent, traditional but retaining a strong touch of McQueen’s style, especially in the slightly padded hips.
I love the picture above, shot a few moments before Kate’s entrance at Westminster Abbey. The slightly ruffled folds on the back of the skirt are so romantic, and so is the veil covering her face. Now here are a few details about the bride’s bouquet, designed by Shane Connolly: it included myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, sweet William, hyacinth and ivy, meaning love (myrtle, which is the emblem of marriage, as well), return of happiness (lily-of-the-valley), gallantry (sweet William), constancy of love (hyacinth) and fidelity (ivy).
Sarah Burton, wearing a nice black printed dress and her trademark ballerina flats, adjusted the bride’s dress as she arrived with her father at the Abbey. She must have been so excited and even nervous for taking part into such an important event.
During the wedding ceremony, bride and bridegroom took their seats, one next to the other, in front of the pulpit. In the picture above, the long train of the dress is fully visible.
I was so looking forward to seeing the tiara chosen for the occasion and the choice didn’t disappoint me: Kate wore the Halo  tiara by Cartier, lent by Queen Elizabeth II. It was made in 1936 and purchased by the Duke of York (the future King George VI) for his wife (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother); the piece of jewellery became part of Princess Elizabeth’s (the future Queen) possessions on her 18th birthday. Kate also wore a pair of earrings by Robinson Pelham, with diamond-set oak leaves and pear-shaped diamonds; they were given by her parents as wedding gift.
The veil – shorter on the front – was made of layers of ivory silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers, made by the Royal School of Needlework. Some have criticised it because it’s not so formal – it should have been longer on the front – but I think it was perfect: a much longer veil would have been too heavy for such a sleek dress.
I’m sure the bride’s shoes – hand-made by the Alexander McQueen team, made of ivory duchesse satin and lace – were seen by guests only (I didn’t get a glimpse of them during the live streaming of the event). I would have liked to see her hairdo better, as well: her beautiful dark hair was styled by James Pryce and Richard Ward of London’s Richard Ward salon in a demi-chignon. I loved her make-up, because it was very natural and didn’t mask the bride’s features.
Before closing, just a personal thought: what would have happened if Lee McQueen was alive? Would he have been chosen to design this wedding dress? And if so, would he have enjoyed all this mediatic frenzy? Unfortunately we will never get an answer to this question, but I like thinking he cast a look down today, to appreciate what his successor had done. Maybe he’ll cast another look down next Monday, too, when he is being honoured at the Costume Institute Gala in New York.
 I’m not an expert of the British Royal Family jewels, but there’s some confusion on the correct name of the tiara. Some call it the Scroll, some the Halo/Scroll, some say it’s the Halo and not the Scroll, referring to two different tiaras, which are probably very similar. In any case, I think it was gorgeous, with those Paisley-like motifs and all those amazing diamonds.