Royal Wedding Ushers in New Era of Bridal Fashion

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This gown, unveiled by designer Romona Kaveza earlier this month, was a prescient look at Kate Middleton's royal wedding gown. Photo Credit: Alison Fischer
Bridal wear expert and proprietor of Plumed Serpent bridal boutique, Alison Fischer Photo Credit: Contributed
A Jennifer Butler original bridal gown, with sleeves, bucks the strapless trend. Photo Credit: Peter Baker

In a ceremony fit for a queen, Catherine Middleton became a princess and the Duchess of Cambridge when she wed Prince William, now also the Duke of Cambridge, earlier today at Westminster Abbey in front of 1,900 guests and the eyes of an estimated two billion people around the world.

And while global luminaries, diplomats and megastars were all in attendance, nothing outshone Kate in her stunning gown, designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.

The royal family succeeded in keeping the dress and designer a secret, adding to the “wow” factor as the bride stepped from the car onto the red carpet outside while the world watched.

“The whole event was just breathtaking,” says Alison Fischer, proprietor of Westport’s Plumed Serpent bridal boutique. “And the dress was classic and elegant. I mean the lace alone was exquisite.”

"I would have loved to see what Alexander McQueen himself would have done," says designer Jennifer Butler, who offers custom-made bridal gowns at her Fairfield atelier. "But I loved the fabric. She used a satin gazar, which has a real luster to it. That's why just floated out behind Kate."

The gown’s silhouette was soft and fitted at the bride’s slender waist. Delicate lace covered her shoulders and arms, and dipped to a tasteful v-shape at the neck. The long train was gracefully topped by a shorter veil attached to a borrowed diamond tiara, leant to Catherine for the occasion by her new grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth.

Many style makers have noted that Catherine’s dress bore a striking resemblance to the wedding gown of another princess, Grace Kelly.

"I think it was a nod to Grace Kelly's gown, sure," says Jennifer. "Better that than Princess Diana's dress. That was so 80's that if you look at it now, it's like being attacked by a duvet. It was enormous."

Alison saw the similarity to Grace Kelly's gown as well, and explains it this way: “I don’t know that the design was an actual homage to Princess Grace,” she says, “so much as it was reminiscent. You could see Kate’s skin through the lace, while Grace’s gown was lined. Grace's dress also had the collar, while Kate’s was open. Kate’s dress was softer. But it would be hard to design a wedding gown with lace sleeves and not have it feel somehow like Grace’s. It’s just an iconic gown. More than 50 years later, people still come into my shop and reference her dress. If I were a princess though, I don’t think I would make a point of emulating another princess. I would want to make my own statement. And I think Kate did.”

While one princess might not want to wear another princess’s gown, it isn’t difficult to imagine that plenty of regular brides wouldn’t mind walking down the aisle in a dress similar to a royal’s.

“It’s already happening,” says Alison. “At bridal market earlier this month, every single designer—and I mean every single designer—was showing dresses with sleeves. Not just straps, but sleeves. There’s not a single time in my career that I’ve seen that.”

What do you think of Catherine's gown?

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