The Royal Wedding Dress

29 April 2011

Well, the moment is here and we’ve all had a look at Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress. What do you think? I think it is absolutely exquisite and will hopefully set a real precedent in bridal fashion from now on and sound the death knell for the boringly ubiquitous strapless gowns that don’t really flatter anyone.

There’s something very Grace Kelly about The Dress isn’t there? It’s not quite so demure but the lace detailing, long sleeves and full skirt are real echoes. To be frank though, you can’t really go wrong if you decide to channel the most beautiful royal bride of all time, can you?

Clarence House’s official description of the dress is:

Miss Catherine Middleton’s Wedding Dress has been designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. 

Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing.  Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterises Alexander McQueen’s work.  Miss Middleton worked closely with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress.

The dress epitomises timeless British craftsmanship by drawing together talented and skilled workmanship from across the United Kingdom.  The dress design pays tribute to the Arts and Crafts tradition, which advocated truth to materials and traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often Romantic styles of decoration.  Ms Burton’s design draws on this heritage, additionally giving the cut and the intricate embellishment a distinctive, contemporary and feminine character.

The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace.  The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s.  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. 

Hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace has been used throughout the bodice and skirt, and has been used for the underskirt trim.  With laces coming from different sources, much care was taken to ensure that each flower was the same colour.  The whole process was overseen and put together by hand by Ms Burton and her team.

The dress is made with ivory and white satin gazar.  The skirt echoes an opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats.  The train measures two metres 70 centimetres.  The ivory satin bodice, which is narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips, draws on the Victorian tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen’s designs.  The back is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops.  The underskirt is made of silk tulle trimmed with Cluny lace.’

Simply stunning and like Grace Kelly before her, the new Duchess of Cambridge proves that it is possible to look beautiful AND demure on your wedding day. Drunken brides falling out of your bodice, take note.

The veil is held in place by a Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, lent to Miss Middleton by The Queen.  The ‘halo’ tiara was made by Cartier in 1936 and was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King.  The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen) by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday.’

This tiara is also known as the Scroll Tiara and has been worn by Princesses Anne and Margaret as well as the Queen and Queen Mother. Very simple and elegant – perfect for the dress.

So what do you think of the dress? Best royal wedding dress to date?

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