Dress to im­press

Be­hind the scenes at the royal wed­ding

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Inside -

VIS­I­TORS to Wind­sor Cas­tle this au­tumn can get closer to the Eng­land’s Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex’s wed­ding clothes than any of the pub­lic were in May. A new ex­hi­bi­tion to ben­e­fit the Royal Col­lec­tion Trust, a reg­is­tered char­ity, dis­plays the cou­ple’s out­fits and ac­ces­sories from the main event.

The mys­tery of Meghan Markle’s dress had many rab­bit trails. Bet­fair and Paddy Pow­ers, fear­ing in­sider leaks, sus­pended punts on Alexan­der McQueen af­ter they were in­un­dated with re­quests for the Bri­tish de­signer in Fe­bru­ary. US out­lets pub­lished ex­pec­tant pro­files of Er­dem Mo­rali­oglu, an­other favourite of the Duchess of Cam­bridge. An im­age of Ralph & Russo’s Haute Cou­ture Ate­lier team view­ing hand em­broi­dery by Royal School of Needle­work stu­dents posted on the school’s In­sta­gram had the fash­ion crowd cer­tain the brand was favoured.

Claire Waight Keller, the Birm­ing­ham-born artis­tic head at Givenchy, was re­vealed to the world (in­clud­ing her fam­ily) as ‘the cho­sen one’ as the bride stepped from the Queen’s Rolls Royce at Wind­sor. You didn’t need to lip-read well to clock the groom telling her “you look amaz­ing” at the al­tar.

“It is fan­tas­tic to be able to cap­ture that won­der­ful wed­ding mo­ment, with both the Duke and Duchess rep­re­sented through what they wore,” says Caro­line de Guin­aut, se­nior cu­ra­tor at Royal Col­lec­tion Trust, who has been work­ing with the cou­ple since be­fore the big day.

“Ob­vi­ously the wed­ding took place in Wind­sor Cas­tle so it is very special to show them in the State Apart­ments where they were worn.”

Givenchy, never the fron­trun­ner among pre­dic­tions, seems an in­creas­ingly nat­u­ral choice in light of Markle’s new­ly­wed style.

Royal wed­ding gowns al­ways set trends but Ms Markle’s is es­pe­cially easy to em­u­late, mak­ing it a fash­ion cat­a­lyst at ev­ery price-point

the house has its fans among modern celebrity it is for­ever linked with Old Hol­ly­wood princess Audrey Hep­burn. Hu­bert de Givenchy’s work with his long-term muse forms part of the house’s ‘codes,’ of which Waight Keller re­mains mind­ful. Elle,

Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and other out­lets have all noted the Hep­burn-es­que na­ture of Meghan Markle’s looks this year.

In a 2016 interview for

Glam­our, Markle de­scribed her per­sonal taste as sim­ple and pared-back when asked about her Suits char­ac­ter’s wed­ding dress. She also favours bal­letic sil­hou­ettes, as Hep­burn did, so brand and bride were a per­fect match.

The dress is made from an exclusive dou­ble-bonded silk cady, de­vel­oped by Ms Waight Keller fol­low­ing ex­ten­sive re­search in fab­ric mills around Europe. Its el­e­gant lines were achieved us­ing six metic­u­lous­ly­placed seams. They ex­tend to­wards the back of the dress, where the train flows in soft round folds cush­ioned by an un­der­skirt in triple-silk or­ganza. The boat-neck­line bodice is just as lovely.

In Queen of the World, an ITV doc­u­men­tary aired on Septem­ber 23, Meghan men­tions the gown’s lin­ing is ways set trends but Ms Markle’s is es­pe­cially easy to em­u­late, mak­ing it a fash­ion cat­a­lyst at ev­ery price-point. With its uni- form tex­ture and clean lines, sim­i­lar ver­sions are eas­ier to turn out at depart­ment store-prices than her sis­ter-in-law’s more de­tailed stitched with her ‘some­thing blue’: a piece of fab­ric from the dress she wore on her first date with the Duke.

Royal wed­ding gowns alThough

Alexan­der McQueen.

De­spite the drama sur­round­ing the dress, the veil may be a big­ger at­trac­tion, es­pe­cially for vis­i­tors with Com­mon­wealth ties. De­signed to flow beau­ti­fully with the dress, it tells a story through em­broi­dery. The na­tional flower of each coun­try as well as Cal­i­for­nia’s state poppy and Win­ter­sweet, which grows in the grounds of Kens­ing­ton Palace, are rep­re­sented in silk and or­ganza. “It was im­por­tant for me, es­pe­cially now be­ing a part of the royal fam­ily, to have all 53 Com­mon­wealth coun­tries in­cor­po­rated,” Meghan said in the ITV doc­u­men­tary. Her hus­band is his grand­mother’s per­sonal pick as a Com­mon­wealth Youth Am­bas­sador.

You can also cast a mag­pie-eye over the di­a­mond and plat­inum ban­deau tiara, lent to the bride by his granny. On pub­lic dis­play for the first time, the tiara is formed as a flex­i­ble band of 11 sec­tions, pavé set with large and small bril­liant di­a­monds in a geo­met­ric shape. The cen­tre is set with a de­tach­able brooch of 10 di­a­monds. The ban­deau was made in 1932 for the Queen’s grand­mother, Queen Mary. The brooch was given to the then Princess Mary in 1893 by the County of Lin­coln on her mar­riage to Prince Ge­orge, (Eng­land’s fu­ture King Ge­orge V). The ban­deau and the brooch were be­queathed to the present queen in 1953.

For those of us more in­ter­ested in Harry, he did not dis­ap­point (dis­re­gard­ing his de­ci­sion to keep the beard, maybe). His out­fit in­cluded a blue doe­skin frock­coat, white gloves, a white buck­skin belt with sword slings, and black trousers with a red stripe down the side.

This is the mil­i­tary uni­form of the Blues and Roy­als, a reg­i­ment of the cav­alry formed in 1969, and was com­mis­sioned from Sav­ile Row tai­lors Dege & Skin­ner. The Queen is the colonel-in-chief of this reg­i­ment and granted Prince Harry per­mis­sion to wear it.

The Duke has loaned an iden­ti­cal uni­form to go on dis­play. The coat bears the fig­ured braid­ing of Reg­i­men­tal pat­tern on the stand-up col­lar and sleeves. It is ranked to ‘Ma­jor’ with large gold em­broi­dered crowns on the epaulettes.

This ex­hi­bi­tion is a chance to en­joy the most­anal­ysed out­fits from the most-watched royal nup­tials in his­tory. The cou­ture is clearly the big­gest draw but mil­i­tary in­flu­ence on fash­ion is end­less — from struc­ture and em­bel­lish­ments to footwear and ac­ces­sories — so it is also a must-see event for stu­dents and wannabe de­sign­ers.

A Royal Wed­ding: The Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex’ will be at Wind­sor Cas­tle from 26 Oc­to­ber 26 to Jan­uary 6.

The wed­ding dress of Meghan Markle, cre­ated by the Bri­tish de­signer Clare Waight Keller, artis­tic di­rec­tor at the his­toric French fash­ion house Givenchy; top right: The di­a­mond and plat­inum ban­deau tiara lent to Meghan by her grand­moth­erin-law, and bot­tom right: The five-me­tre-long veil is made from silk-tulle and em­broi­dered with the flora of the 53 coun­tries of the Bri­tish Com­mon­wealth.

Pic­ture: Jane Bar­low, WPA Pool/Getty Im­ages

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan fol­low­ing their wed­ding at St Ge­orge’s Chapel at Wind­sor Cas­tle, Eng­land.

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