'Beautiful' Kate wears dress by McQueen designer
Kate Middleton wore a stunning ivory satin and lace wedding dress Friday by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, her face covered lightly with a hand-embroidered veil held by a tiara lent by the queen.
Smiling and waving to the cheering crowd outside Westminster Abbey, the 29-year-old clutched a bouquet of flowers that included Sweet William. Inside, the prince William showed his appreciation, mouthing: "You look beautiful."
Burton, the 36-year-old creative director of fashion house Alexander McQueen, had long been tipped for the commission, but palace officials had remained tight-lipped right up until the moment Kate stepped out of the car.
They said the bride had "worked closely" with Burton in formulating the design, which she wanted to "combine tradition and modernity".
In a design that echoed the dress worn by Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956, Kate's gown had long sleeves in lace which drew down over the ivory satin bodice to form a V-neckline.
The bodice narrowed at her tiny waist and was padded at the hips, flaring to a skirt resembling an open flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats.
Her train was 2.7 metres (8.8 feet) long -- relatively short by royal standards, particularly Princess Diana's at her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, which measured 7.6 metres (25 feet).
The train and bodice were adorned by delicate lace applique flowers, in a unique design that incorporated the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock -- the four floral emblems of the United Kingdom.
Members of the Royal School of Needlework worked on the intricate lace detailing, washing their hands every 30 minutes to keep it pristine, and changing their needles every three hours to keep them sharp.
With the exception of some French Chantilly lace, all the fabrics used were sourced from and supplied by British companies.
"It's a bridal gown of very refined detail, much more refined than the one Diana wore", commented couturier Karl Lagerfeld, adding: "It's very pretty."
Harriet Quick, fashion features director at Vogue, said: "It is absolutely beautiful and very restrained and quite modest in many ways.
"It has lots of echoes of Grace Kelly's wedding dress but I think Sarah Burton's created something really beautiful for her, with a very simple veil, the incredible lace and that prettiest of necklines."
Kate's veil was made of layers of soft, ivory silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers. It fell to just below her waist, held in place by a Cartier tiara lent to her by William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
Her diamond earrings, a gift from her parents, evoked her family's new coat of arms with an oak leaf design. On her feet, she wore hand-made Alexander McQueen shoes of ivory duchesse satin and lace.
Kate held a bouquet containing lily of the valley, which symbolises the return of happiness; sweet William, which means gallantry; hyacinth, constancy of love; ivy, fidelity; and myrtle, the emblem of love and marriage.
While the bridal gown was the dress that attracted most attention on the big day, Burton also designed a second outfit for Kate to wear to the evening party in Buckingham Palace.
The bride changed into the strapless white satin gazar evening gown, which had a circle skirt and diamante embroidered detail round the waist, before heading to the black-tie do.
Burton also created the dress for Kate's sister Pippa, 27, who was her maid of honour. It was simple and elegant, made of heavy ivory satin-based crepe with the same button detail and lace trims as the bride's dress.
The designer said Kate looked "absolutely stunning".
"It has been the experience of a lifetime to work with Catherine Middleton to create her wedding dress, and I have enjoyed every moment of it," she said, adding that it had been "such an incredible honour to be asked".
Burton, a graduate of Central Saint Martin's fashion college, took over as creative director after Alexander Lee McQueen committed suicide in February 2010. She had worked side-by-side with him for 14 years.
The dress is expected to spawn a thousand reproductions.
Elizabeth Emanuel, who created Diana's fairytale ivory silk taffeta wedding gown with her husband David, is still being asked to make copies.
Kate's dress was "very wearable and that style would fit so many different shapes, I'm sure it's going to be a very coveted look and there will be copies of it from tomorrow onwards", she said.
© 2011 AFP