April 29th, 2011 / posted by paularath

The world's first look at Kate's wedding gown. Photo by AP

Has a wedding gown ever been so awaited? For months fashion prognosticators have anticipated what Kate Middleton would wear. Many designers had already begun sketching what it might look like and creating gowns to mimic the trends they anticipated it would set off. That, according to a Ruth LaFerla story in last Sunday’s New York Times.  

Project Runway designers sketched the dress they thought she would wear, as did some local designers. No one really got it right.  Most thought it would look more like what her sister and maid of honor, Pippa, wore, sleek and body conscious.

Not for this modern fairy tale princess. Her gown was evidence of a clear communication and mutual respect between the designer, Sarah Burton, and the bride. It was, in a word, perfect.

If one had to compare Kate’s to another historical gown, I think the closest comparison would be the gown worn by Grace Kelly in 1956 when she married Prince Rainier. Kelly, too, was a modern day princess.

The modesty revealed in the gown and the veil are welcome antidotes to the bare-it-all brides we have seen in recent years. I am hoping this will be the major trend to come out of the Royal Wedding. We can expect to see lots more lace on brides from now on and perhaps a return to graceful veils with tiny lace trim. Pleats would also seem to be a coming trend. Weren’t the pleats on the little bridesmaid’s dresses adorable? Those narrow waists and full pleats are so ladylike 1950s!

As a fabric junkie, I had to find out what fabrics were used for the gown and veil. The veil is soft ivory silk tulle with a trim made of hand-embroidered flower hand sewn by the Royal School of Needlework.

All of the fabrics were created by British companies. The gown is English Cluny lace and French Chantilly lace, all hand sewn in various parts of Britain and pieced together meticulously by Sarah Burton herself. The gown is ivory and white satin gazar.

Another trend I hope will be picked up around the world: trees. What a fabulous green idea for a wedding! Instead of cut flowers that will only last a matter of days, the myrtle trees, which are said to stand for commitment, will be planted in a park after they’re removed from Westminster Abbey. Then, perhaps, the royal couple can plant a tree for each child born to them? But that’s in the future, of course…

Kate also made some nods to tradition. The Cartier tiara she wore was loaned to her by the Queen. Her diamond earrings were a gift from her family. The myrtle sprigs in her bouquet were also a gift from the Queen.

The bride did her own makeup, as she said she wanted to be sure William knew he was marrying the same girl he fell in love with.

Kate seems quite ready for the life she will lead from now on and we can expect lots more appropriate – and pretty – trend setting fashion statements from the Duchess of Cambridge.

– Paula Rath

Kate and William at the altar. In a nod to his respect for the Army, William wore the uniform of the Irish Guards. It also signals his aloha for the men who are fighting in Afghanistan. Photo by AP.

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