When Catherine Middleton married Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, her dress was aptly described as being a fairy tale dress for a real-life princess. The £250,000 piece was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, the iconic British couturier being selected for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its appreciation for traditional workmanship.
Catherine’s veil – held in place by a Cartier halo tiara loaned to her by Queen Elizabeth – was made from layers of delicate, ivory silk tulle edged with hand-embroidered flowers. The bridal outfit was accessorised with a stunning pair of Robinson Pelham diamond earrings, which were a wedding gift from her parents. The earrings were inspired by the Middleton family’s new coat of arms, and depicted stylised oak leaves. They had a pear-shaped drop diamond and a pave set diamond acorn hanging in the centre.
Catherine wanted her wedding gown to be a mixture of traditional and modern design, an effect which was achieved by using classic lacework – reminiscent of Grace Kelly’s famous wedding gown – and combining it with an elegant, clean and streamlined modern shape. With a train measuring 2.7m and a padded corset, the wedding gown was made from lace and satin gazar, which is a loosely woven type of silk. The ivory silk tulle bodice and skirt were both made by hand, as were the flowers that were scattered beautifully across the dress. Every flower was individually cut from English and French Chantilly lace before being hand sewn onto the dress. The back of the dress was finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons.
It was recently revealed that the intricate lacework on the royal wedding gown was made over a period of four weeks by twenty highly experienced seamstresses, who were told they were making the exquisite dress for a lavish TV drama. Each seamstress had to wash their hands three times an hour to make sure the lace and gazar stayed in pristine condition, and the needles were replaced every three hours ensure they remained sharp.
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