Ending months of speculation, the Duchess of Sussex walked down the aisle of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday in a wedding gown designed by Givenchy’s artistic director Clare Waight Keller, a designer whose name had been absent from the short list of British designers and brands favored for the high-profile occasion, including Stella McCartney, Ralph & Russo, Burberry and Erdem.
Although Givenchy is a French label, Waight Keller is British, having taken the creative reins at the house just last year. She’s the first woman to do so in the brand’s history.
According to a statement released by Kensington Palace just minutes after the first images were revealed of the new duchess’ dress on her way into the chapel, Meghan Markle chose Waight Keller because she “wanted to highlight the success of a leading British talent who has now served as the creative head of three globally influential fashion houses — Pringle of Scotland, Chloé and now Givenchy.”
Constructed of double-bonded silk cady, the simple, elegant Givenchy Haute Couture gown has a bateau neckline, three-quarter-length sleeves and an underskirt of triple silk organza. A wonderfully symbolic detail (and one that was all but lost to those watching from afar) was the 5-meter-long silk tulle veil that Waight Keller had designed to include floral representations of each of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth. England was represented by a rose hand-embroidered in silk thread and organza, for example, and Canada by the bunchberry.
There were two other floral symbols incorporated into the veil as well: wintersweet, which grows on the grounds of Kensington Palace, and the California poppy, which residents of the Golden State will recognize as the state flower, to represent the state in which the bride was born. Additionally, at the very front of the veil, crops of wheat were embroidered to blend in with the flora, symbolizing, according to Givenchy’s media release, “love and charity.”
As if that wasn’t enough in the flower-power department, the bouquet carried by the bride contained some flowers from the private garden at Kensington Palace — handpicked Friday by the groom himself.
Adding another symbolic element, the tiara holding the bride’s veil in place was Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau — on loan from Queen Elizabeth II for the ocassion — that dates to 1932. Rounding out the ensemble were Cartier earrings and Givenchy shoes, which were made of silk duchess satin.
As his now wife arrived at the altar, Prince Harry could be heard telling Markle, “You look amazing,” a sentiment with which we wholeheartedly agree.
As for the wedding party, the high-waisted, puff-sleeved silk bridesmaid dresses also were designed by Waight Keller, according to the Kensington Palace statement, and were worn with white leather Aquazzura shoes, each pair monogrammed with the wedding date and the bridesmaid’s initials.
Although Givenchy’s Waight Keller gets the well-deserved bragging rights for designing the bride’s dress (not to mention foiling the best guesses of many a fashion snoop), other designers were in the mix for the big day — including Oscar de la Renta’s Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, who designed the custom dress and day coat worn by mother of the bride Doria Ragland; and Vivienne Westwood, who was the designer of choice for Priyanka Chopra (a structured jacket and pencil skirt ensemble in a light heather gray summer tweed).
Also, Stella McCartney was worn by guests Amal Clooney (a honey yellow silk cady midi dress topped off with a Stephen Jones headdress) and Oprah Winfrey (in a blush, double-tiered dress with lace trim) and, it turns out, the freshly minted Duchess of Sussex as well. She changed into a bespoke lily white, high-neck silk crepe gown from the label for the evening wedding reception at Frogmore House near Windsor Castle.
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