Wednesday, 4 May 2011

She Wore It Well

It was a bright, blustery day on Friday the 29th April - a perfect day for the Union Jack flags and bunting displayed around the country, fluttering in the breeze and marking the occasion: Miss Catherine Middleton married her Prince in a ceremony that captured the world's imagination. 

Official photograph: Catherine and William and attendants.

And oh, the dress! The best kept secret in couture was finally revealed, and as I sat there, confidently asserting to my boyfriend that the bride would not choose McQueen, I was proved totally wrong. I had been saying it for weeks - even wrote it to my friend Ingrid at Fashion is My Muse.Miss Middleton would not wear McQueen, I said, because it was much too avant-garde a choice for a royal-to-be. 

I'm honestly very happy to be wrong! I nearly choked on my tea when the announcement was made, but with such a dress as it was, how could anyone fail to be enchanted? Sarah Burton, designing for the Alexander McQueen label, could not have done a more perfect job.

From top-to-toe, Catherine exuded radiant charm. A waist-length, single layer tulle veil, hand embroidered at the edges, covered her face. It has been reported that the bride chose to apply her own make-up of natural pink lips and cheeks, topped with strongly kohl-lined eyes. The veil initially covered the tiara, also widely speculated upon. In the end, the choice was a 1936 Cartier tiara - a gift from the Queen Mother to the Queen on her 18th birthday. Catherine's ears sparkled with diamond oak-leaf earrings (designed by her mother, and presented as a gift from her father).

Sarah Burton adjusts the bridal train.

In basic form, the bridal gown was a strapless corset and A-Line skirt padded at the hips and bottom, which showed off Catherine's narrow waist. On top of this was the lace over-bodice, created by the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, and in a symbol of the British union, the floral design was one of roses (England), daffodils (Wales), shamrocks (Northern Ireland) and thistles (Scotland). The train, at three metres, was modest by Princess Diana standards, but perfect as it slithered over the gorgeous floor of Westminster Abbey. The shoes, although largely unseen, were also specially made by Sarah Burton for McQueen - ivory satin courts with a two-inch heel. 

While a McQueen creation, the gown had none of the high-fashion quirkiness of catwalk couture. Quite simply, it was a brilliant collaboration, with Sarah Burton's skill and vision complimenting the wishes and choices of a radiant bride to perfection. It was demure but sexy, modest but dramatic, and a determined showcase of British craftsmanship and symbolism.


It was a event in which the joy of one couple in love reflected onto those who watched. It was a day of endless red-white-and-blue, and it made me smile all day long.

Images courtesy of The Daily Mail and The Telegraph.


  1. Dear Laura,
    What a beautifully written summary of the glorious day! As soon as I saw a glimpse of Sarah Burton helping Catherine into the car, I wished I'd wagered some money on her choice of McQueen. I would have won a pot of money as you were not the only one who thought the choice of McQueen would be too extreme. But Sarah Burton has brought a gentler, more feminine approach to the label and undoubtedly that will help vault the line into the stratosphere.
    I was at the McQueen preview on Monday and will be sharing my photos of it over the coming week. Do pop over when you have a minute!

  2. Thanks Ingrid! While I'm glad I didn't wager money on McQueen, I'm really pleased with her choice. You're totally right: the harshness is gone - perfect for a wedding dress.

    I'm so happy about your trip to see Savage Beauty! :)

  3. Hi Laura, your post is - again - so well written. I was exactly the same, thinking McQueen was too avant garde for a royal wedding. The dress was so perfect, elegant, simple and glorious all at the same time. It was just amazing. I was in central London, watched it on a big screen and have to say that the atmosphere was great and the cheering of the crowds was quite touching. It was just a great and lovely day... xo

  4. Thanks, Carole! It's great that you were in the city for the big event itself. I can't even begin to imagine what the atmosphere was like - it was enthusiastic enough here in my little outpost...!

  5. Hi Laura -
    I'm so glad you posted that first photo...I hadn't seen it. What a lovely wedding. I didn't think much about who the designer would be but I must say it was a perfect choice. Stunning. I love a royal wedding!

  6. Hello Catherine - It's a really sweet photo isn't it? Glad you enjoyed the wedding, I did too!