Royal Wedding Rewind: A Closer Look At Kate Middleton’s Wedding Gown

kate middleton alexander mcqueen lace dress

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It was the Duchess of Cambridge’s wish that any details pertaining to her gown would be a surprise until her and Prince William’s wedding day.

Media outlets immediately started to speculate on who landed the job.  Bruce Oldfield?  Diana’s wedding dress designers, David and Elizabeth Emanuel?  Temperley London?

In March, it leaked that Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen had been tapped to create Catherine’s wedding gown.

alexander mcqueen wedding dress display buckingham palace

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Burton had taken over as creative director for the house after McQueen passed away in February 2010.

On the eve of the royal wedding, a woman wearing jeans, flats and a fur-hooded parka snuck into The Goring Hotel, where the Middletons were staying. 

It would have been an inconspicuous entrance, had the Telegraph‘s Hilary Alexander not ID’d Burton’s staple accessories:

sarah burton sneaks into goring hotel royal wedding eve

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The woman scuttling into the Goring Hotel, the Middleton family HQ, in London on Thursday hid her long blonde hair under a fur ‘trapper’ hat in an attempt to avoid being ‘spotted’ by swarms of photographers and television crews.

But she overlooked one crucial clue – her accessories. And that is something someone in the fashion business who does not want to be ‘seen’ should never do.

Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen to design Kate Middleton’s wedding dress?
The distinctive studded leather belt doubled through the belt loops of her jeans was identical to the one favoured by Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen , as were the ballet pumps.

The Dress Details

  • Seamstresses (ranging in age from 19 to 70ish) from the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace were kept completely in the dark about the dress, and who is was being made for.
  • The seamstresses washed their hands every 30 minutes to keep the lace and threads in pristine condition.
  • Needle were replace every 3 hours to keep them sharp and clean.kate middleton detail wedding dress buckingham palace
  • The corseted bodice featured narrow lace sleeves and and padded skirt, pleated into a bustle effect to make Catherine’s waist appear even smaller than it actually is (if you can believe it).
  • The lace motifs featured thistles, roses, shamrocks and daffodils, symbols of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, respectively.
  • The back of the dress was finished with 58 silk and organza-covered buttons fastened by loops.
  • Daisy-trimmed silk tulle (made from Cluny lace) made up the underskirt.
  • The train measures just under 9 feet, compared to Diana’s 25-foot train.
kate middleton waves crowds westminster abbey

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Burton released a statement the day of the wedding, describing her vision for the future consort’s gown.

“We wanted to look to the past, yet look to the future as well,” Burton explained.

kate middleton arrives michael middleton westminster abbey royal wedding sarah burton

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“There were a lot of references to Victorian corsetry, the padded hip, the tiny cinched-in waist, and also to the arts and crafts movement with all of the hand-work on the lace of the dress and also the bustle inside to create the shape of the back of the dress.

alexander mcqueen royal wedding dress display buckingham palace


“It has an essence of Victorian but we cut the dress in a very modern way, it is in a very light fabric, also the pleats and the folds create a modern feel rather than a historical piece.
I think what we wanted to achieve was something that was incredibly beautiful and intricately worked.

kate middleton waves michael middleton rolls royce royal weddig

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

“A lot of it is in the subtlety of the detail, the handcrafted lace, and the cuts and the shapes and the folds involved in the construction of the dress, yet we still had to remember it was in Westminster Abbey so it still had to have a presence.

“It was this idea of having a dress with a presence and of historical importance yet being modern at the same time.”

kate middleton smiles prince william altar westminster abbey

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Did you love Catherine’s wedding gown?  Let me know!

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