Belle of Britain, face of fashion
On April 29, 2011 The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, stepped out in a custom and co designed Sarah Burton wedding design. Praised by the global press and fashions front runners Givenchy, Lagerfield and de la Renta to name but a few, the duchess' dress showcased a perfect juxtaposition of tradition and modernity, perpetuating a new era within the British Monarchy. The dress would serve as a future inspiration for designers and brides to be.
Sarah Burton, creative director of luxury brand Alexander McQueen was tipped from the onset to be the go to designer for Middleton. David Emanuel, co-designer of the wedding dress of Diana, Princess of Wales, was quoted in saying "McQueen is owned by Gucci, an Italian company. If Kate's gone that route, it would be the first time a British-owned house wasn't chosen. And the Italians would have a field day with that". Despite the Italian fashion house, the build up to wedding of the century saw the odds of the British designer fall increasingly in her favor.
Middleton had her first brush with Burton in 2005 after attending the wedding of Tom Parker Bowels, son of Camilla Duchess of Cornwell and his bride to be, fashion journalist for Harpers Bizarre, Sara Buys. Burton had designed the bridal gown; a strapless form fitting dress with a mermaid tulle tail and floor length vail which, 6 years later would forecast a distant reality.
As the day drew near, speculation ran rife that Burton was in fact the chosen designer. Despite both camps denying such reports, English book keepers stopped taking wages weeks before the wedding as the odds increasing emerged in favor of Burton. However, the dress and its maker were not publicly announced until the last minute when Middleton stepped out of the car in front of the world and Westminster Abbey, minutes before the service began.
Official statements revealed that the design of the dress was formulated by a careful process between both Burton and Middleton, in which Middleton's wish to combine tradition and modernity was brought to life.
The Dress Construction:
The construction of the dress involved an ivory satin bodice, padded slightly at the hips and narrowed at the waist - an ode to the traditional Victorian corsetry, a hallmark of the late Alexander McQueen. The bodice incorporated floral motifs cut from machine-made lace which were further appliquéd by hand onto the silk tulle. It has been reported that in order to maintain secrecy during the construction of the dress, the embroiders of the Royal School of Needlework were initially told that the dress was to be a costume intended to be used in a television drama series with no budget in sight. As a result, it has been widely reported that the dress cost in excess of £250 000, despite Clarence House dismissing such claims.
The Back of the Dress:
The back of the dress was constructed with 58 buttons of gazar and organza, which fasten by means of rouleau loops. The skirt, underskirt trim and bridal train, measuring 2,7m also incorporated lace appliquéd in a similar manner to the bodice. The main body of the dress was made in ivory and white satin gazar, using locally produced British fabrics which had been specially sourced by Burton herself. The dress held a long, full skirt designed to echo an opening flower, with soft pleats which unfolded to the floor, forming a Victorian-style semi-bustle at the back. The dress finished with a modern short train measuring just under three meters in length. To partially fulfil the 'something blue' portion of the British wedding tradition, a blue ribbon was sewn inside the dress. The design for the bodice featured lace in the style of the 19th Century which stood for the 'something old' of the tradition.
The World's View
Middleton's dress was internationally well received by the press and fashion experts alike. It was noted that the dress was largely traditional reminiscing in bridal designs worn by Grace Kelly, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.
Since the reveal of the dress, acclaimed and unknown designers have clung to the silhouette as a means for replicas and future collection inspirations. Within 5 hours of Middleton exiting her car outside Westminster, replicas were already available online with inquires flooding in. More replicas for the dress were available online within the days that followed priced at as little as £70 - £90. Today, replicas of the Burton dress can be found on eBay ranging from £125 - £165. Simultaneously, Butterick has released a sewing pattern of the dress available for £20. More recently, American designer >Carolina Herrera showcased her Spring 2015 bridal collection with noticeable inspirations drawn from the Duchess' dress.
The Fashion Spotlight
Middleton's wedding dress has catapulted her into the fashion spotlight with her style being replicated the world over and her fashions selling out in minutes. Her impact has been dubbed "The Kate Middleton Effect" which refers to the impact that Middleton has on women around the world, particularly in Britain. The capital value of the effect is said to be worth £1 Billion to the UK fashion industry. Online websites such as Kate Middleton Style and What Kate Wore specialise in finding affordable alternatives to the Duchess' style.
The "Kate Middleton Effect" has had a profound effect on charitable organizations, with Middleton's dress raising over £8 million pounds during its display outside Buckingham Palace in the summer of 2011, perpetuating once more, Middleton's stance on tradition meets modernity. The "Kate Middleton Effect" along with her wedding dress puts further emphasis on Middleton's balance with a palate for tradition and a zeal for modernity yielding positive change in an inevitable changing monarchy and society. Here is what the glamorous Kate looked like on her wedding day