Ben Stansall/AFP, Getty Images
Kate Middleton arrived at Westminster Abbey on Friday wearing a long-sleeved wedding dress with English and French Chantilly lace appliqué bodice, satin gazar pleated skirt and nine-foot train by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. Her bridal look included a full veil, a Cartier tiara borrowed from the Queen and a small bouquet of white blooms. Her hair was styled half-up, half-down.
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images"It has been the experience of a lifetime to work with Catherine Middleton to create her wedding dress, and I have enjoyed every moment of it," Burton said, according to Elle UK. "It was such an incredible honour to be asked, and I am so proud of what we and the Alexander McQueen team have created."
From the moment Prince William and Kate announced their engagement, the rumor mill started buzzing about who would be designing the bride's prized gown. Alice Temperley, Sophie Cranston, Bruce Oldfield (who confessed to not being the dressmaker just days before the ceremony) and Burton all took a spin on the dressmaker merry-go-round.
The dress was reportedly made in private at Buckingham Palace. Those with knowledge of the details were sworn to secrecy, including the designer. But a sighting of Burton on Thursday at The Goring Hotel, the same place where the bride and her family were staying before the wedding, seemed to confirm the gossip.
According to the Palace, "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."
The custom-made lace featured four emblems of the United Kingdom -- the rose, thistle, daffodil and the shamrock. Kate and Burton may have been inspired by the delicate lace dress that Grace Kelly wore when she wed Prince Rainier of Monaco.
Back in March, Mark Niemierko, a luxury wedding planner based in London, told AOL that Kate's rumored selection of Burton was a bit of a shock. "[The bridal industry] really thought Kate Middleton would choose a lesser known British bridal designer, keeping with tradition and not being too fashion-forward. It also shows Kate is perhaps far more fashion-forward than anyone thought. High fashion at that." Burton became creative director of the British fashion label in 2010, following the suicide of founder Alexander McQueen. She presented her first womenswear collection without him at Paris Fashion Week. It received rave reviews for combining femininity with McQueen's unique style.
This isn't the first time an Alexander McQueen gown has been worn by a high-society British bride. In 2005, Camilla Parker-Bowles' daughter-in-law, Sarah Buys, had McQueen design her gown for her wedding to Tom Parker-Bowles.
Besides her royal clientele, Burton is also a celebrity favorite. Stars like Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett, Lady Gaga and Gwyneth Paltrow have all been spotted in her designs.
See more photos of the dress here
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.
French Chantilly lace was combined with English Cluny lace to be hand-worked in the Irish Carrickmacross needlework tradition.
All other fabrics used in the creation of the dress were sourced from and supplied by British companies. The choice of fabrics followed extensive research by Sarah Burton and her team.
The Royal School of Needlework
The Royal School of Needlework (RSN), based at Hampton Court Palace, assisted the Alexander McQueen team in accurately cutting out the delicate motifs from the lace fabrics and positioning the lace motifs with precision into the new design. The lace motifs were pinned, 'framed up' and applied with stab stitching every two to three millimetres around each lace motif. The 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 RSN workers included existing staff, former staff, tutors, graduates and students, with the youngest aged 19.
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.
Veil and Jewellery
The veil is made of layers of soft, ivory silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers, which was embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework. 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.
The Bride's earrings, by Robinson Pelham, are diamond-set stylised oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond set drop and a pavé set diamond acorn suspended in the centre. Inspiration for the design comes from the Middleton family's new coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak leaves. The earrings were made to echo the tiara. The earrings were a personal gift to the Bride from her parents for her Wedding Day.
Robinson Pelham have also designed and made a pair of diamond earrings for Miss Philippa Middleton. These earrings are more floral in nature to compliment the headpiece worn by Miss Philippa Middleton during the Service.
A tourmaline and diamond pendant and matching earrings have been designed and made for Mrs. Carole Middleton. Two gold stick pins, one with a single gold acorn at the head and the other with an oak leaf, are also worn respectively by the Father of the Bride, Mr. Michael Middleton, and the Bride's brother, Mr. James Middleton.
The wedding shoes have made hand-made by the team at Alexander McQueen and are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.
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