Miss Catherine Middleton’s Wedding Dress and Reception Gown was 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.
Hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace has been used throughout the bodice and skirt, and has been used for the underskirt trim. The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework (RSN), based at Hampton Court Palace. The RSN workers washed their hands every thirty minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, and the needles were renewed every three hours, to keep them sharp and clean.
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. The lace motifs were pinned, ‘framed up’ and applied with stab stitching every two to three millimetres around each lace motif.
The dress is made with ivory and white satin gazar. 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 skirt echoes an opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats.
The train measures two metres 70 centimetres.
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.
The RSN’s work was used primarily for the train and skirt of the Bride’s dress, the bodice and sleeves, the Bride’s shoes and the Bride’s veil.
The Reception Gown
A floor length strapless shoulder gown with a sweetheart neckline and a jewelled belt to emphasize the narrowed waist and padding at the hips, which draws on the Victorian tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen’s designs The gown is paired with an angolia shrug.
Thoughts: I was all excited when I saw Ms Philippa Middleton in that sexy Maid of Honour’s dress of hers – see The Royal Wedding: The Maid of Honour. I honestly thought Kate Duchess of Cambridge would choose something similar to those lines…but she didn’t. Kate Duchess of Cambridge went for something very different. When I first wrote about my thoughts on Kate’s Duchess of Cambridge’s gown, I predicted something romantic and classic, with sleeves and a long train – see Kate’s Moments. Yes the gown was elegant. But it was also very understated…it somehow left me hoping for something more. I was hoping for a design that would blow me away but instead the Duchess chooses a very classic design. A lot of writers have said it is similar to the classic lines of Princess Grace Kelly and Princess Margaret’s wedding dress but those dresses were fashion forward at their time. But I must say the Duchess’s choice of gown is quite interesting…it indicates that she will not be a fashion icon. Perhaps I am reading too much into a choice of dress…but all I can say is, hopefully, the Duchess’s choice of gown would diminish the trend of wearing strapless wedding gowns…