A gown fit for history
Markle’s wedding dress will be full romance with a nod to tradition
THIS time next week, as the confetti settles on one of the biggest weddings of the century, brides around the world will be scrambling to replicate Meghan Markle’s gown.
While the princess bride’s wedding dress remains a closely guarded secret, the speculative spotlight is shining brightest on Britain-based Australian design duo Ralph & Russo, who Markle also wore in her and Prince Harry’s engagement portraits.
While several palace insiders have suggested the luxury label will design the gown, despite the brand not being a household name, Ralph & Russo has been politely “declining a comment” on the royal rumours.
If true, fashion fans can expect a fairytale gown full of whimsy and romance, with Ralph & Russo’s bridal collections famous for frothy organza, pearl-encrusted Chantilly lace, fine-spun silk fringing, sheer tulle, voluminous tiered skirts, gold bullion embroidery and glass-bead embellishment.
But the label — if the rumours are correct — will have to ensure that etiquette and royal and religious standards are met for the ceremony at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.
Debrett’s, founded in 1769, is London’s authority on etiquette and behaviour, and recommends that shoulders should be covered for cathedral weddings.
Designer Con Ilio agrees that it is likely that Markle won’t expose her shoulders during the ceremony.
“Embellishment, embroidery and texture such as lace all help make details of the gown stand out from a distance in such a grand cathedral.”
But whether Markle chooses to stick to tradition or tear up the royal rule book, brides-to-be the world over will be taking inspiration from her gown on their own wedding day.
The influence royal brides have had on wedding trends is steeped in history. Queen Victoria revolutionised weddings by choosing a white dress to wed Albert of Saxe- Coburg in 1840. While she wasn’t the first bride to wear a white dress, the queen is credited with making the hue of purity the template for generations to come.
Bridal miniskirts and caftans dominated wedding fashion in the ’60s and ’70s, but that all changed after the wedding of Diana Spencer and Prince Charles in 1980 ushered in a new era of ruffled romance.
Her ivory silk taffeta gown featured pearl embellishment, puffed shoulders, and a billowing skirt that spilt into a majestic 7.5m train.
So big was the resurgence of the “big white dress” that more than half a decade later, Diana’s sister-in-law, Sarah Ferguson, chose a similarly voluminous silhouette for her wedding to Prince Andrew in 1986.
While Ferguson’s dress stuck to the dress code, her gown was a lesson in how to incorporate the personality of the wearer into the design. Her 5m train incorporated beadwork of various symbols including bumblebees and thistles, which were taken from Ferguson’s family crest, as well as hearts, anchors and waves representing Prince Andrew’s sailing background.
In 2004, it was Tasmania-born commoner Mary Donaldson’s turn to steal the royal spotlight, becoming Crown Princess of Denmark at her wedding to Prince Frederick.
Brides became eager to copy her long, delicate lace veil — a Danish royal family heirloom. Similarly, Kate Middleton’s wedding dress in 2011 saw a resurgence of conservative styles. Her fulllength, a-line gown featured sheer lace sleeves, a corsetted waist, padded hips and lace applique.
So whether it is traditionally modest, or puts a modern spin on tradition, Markle’s gown will herald a new direction for wedding dresses around the world.
KATEMIDDLETON PRINCESS MARY HER MAJESTY, THE QUEEN