While much of the royal watching world has their attention glued to the doors of a certain hospital’s maternity wing, it seems like a great time to take a royal hat detour. Numerous readers here have requested look back at the hats worn at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. As the couple celebrates their fourth anniversary tomorrow, let’s revisit these millinery masterpieces.
Before we get to the hats, we need to look back at the bride. Expectations for Kate’s gown were monumental- not only was this a dress for a future queen, it was going to placed under more media scrutiny than any other British royal wedding gown had ever been before. Kate entrusted this challenge to Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen, and reports are that the two worked closely together on the design.
The dress’ bodice followed a decidedly traditional shape, thanks to a McQueen signature boned corset, with a cinched waist and sweetheart neckline. Made of ivory satin gazar, it was overlaid in appliquéd silk net tulle; 58 gazar and organza buttons fastened up the back with rouleau loops.
While initial reports stated the lace was handmade, the Royal School of Needlework confirmed that the lace appliqué was cut out of larger lengths of lace produced on large 19th-century machines (from Sophie Hallette and Solstiss in France as well as the Cluny Lace Company in Derbyshire) then hand stitched to silk net tulle. This method of assembly created the illusion of lace woven to perfectly (and symmetrically) fit the bodice of the dress.
In a patriotic nod, Kate reportedly requested the lace include all flowers of Great Britain- roses for England, daffodils for Wales, thistles for Scotland, and shamrocks for Northern Ireland.
Following a traditionally Victorian shape, the dress was lightly padded at the hips and opened into a long, full skirt. The pleated skirt, described by McQueen as designed to echo an opening flower, featured a back bustle which flowed into a three metre (nine foot) train. Unlike many other trains on royal wedding dresses, McQueen’s incomparable structure held the shape of the dress and the train beautifully as Kate walked the aisle of Westminster Abbey. I loved how the train seamlessly flowed from the skirt, making it look like an integrated part of the design (instead of looking like a long bed sheet thrown on the back, as many royal wedding trains unfortunately do).
Also made of satin gazar, the skirt was covered in the same lace appliqué as the bodice. Unfortunately, the intricate lacework did not show up well on video and the detail we see now in photographs was not visible to viewers on television.
Kate topped her gown with a fingertip veil of ivory silk tulle edged in lace. For her processional down the aisle, she wore the blusher over her face. During the first hymn, her father folded it back.
Kate’s veil was was anchored by the Halo tiara; the scroll motif of the tiara was a beautiful compliment to the delicate lace on her gown and edging her veil. The Middletons commissioned diamond earrings for the daughter as a wedding present. The earrings that incorporated the scroll of the tiara and an acorn from their family crest.
Kate changed into a different McQueen gown for the private evening reception. The strapless dress was also made of white satin gazar and featured similar padded hips and full skirt. A diamante studded belt gave a little sparkle and Kate topped the dress with a short white angora cardigan to keep away the evening chill. While this dress was an anticlimactic end to Kate’s wedding fashion, it looks like a fun frock for dancing.
It was reported that Kate’s ‘something old’ was the 19th century style lace on her dress, ‘something new was her dress and earrings, ‘something borrowed’ was the tiara, and ‘something blue’ was a ribbon sewn inside the dress. While this may or not be true, what’s clear is that Kate followed very traditional shapes and materials for her dress. At the time, I remember those in the fashion world being slightly underwhelmed as it was not the high fashion masterpiece they had hoped for. Looking back, Kate’s dress seems entirely her- traditional, understated and classic with a subtle modern twist. It’s a royal wedding dress that I think will stand the test of time and look as beautiful to us viewers in 40 years as it does to us now. I think it is a dress of exquisite detail that was a perfect proportion for both Kate and for Westminster Abbey.
What did you think of Kate’s wedding dresses? Did you think the Halo tiara was the right choice for her? Stay tuned first thing tomorrow morning for our first look at the hats worn at this wedding. As I’m sure you can recall, there were some corkers.