Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, has fast become one of the most iconic bridal fashion moments of all time. The classic style, with its long lace sleeves and a full, duchess-worthy skirt, nodded to the gowns worn by two other royal brides, Princess Grace of Monaco and Kate’s grandmother-in-law, the then-Princess Elizabeth. There is no doubt that the dress will continue to inspire weddings for years to come. But how was this beautiful gown kept secret leading up to Prince William and Kate’s Westminster Abbey wedding? And how did Kate eventually pick a designer?
How was Kate Middleton’s wedding dress kept secret?
It’s no surprise that such an anticipated design was shrouded in secrecy until the big wedding day reveal at Westminster Abbey — though just how secretive the process was has (appropriately) remained under wraps until dressmaker Mandy Ewing revealed the lengths to which she and her team went to keep the dress a surprise.
“We knew who it was for, but it was very secret — we had net curtains up and cleaners were not allowed into the room and the code on the door was changed,” she explained after Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited the Royal School of Needlework in November 2017.
“The dress was all in the news, but nobody knew who was doing it. When you’re working on it, you just focus on it and try not to think about what’s in the news. But it was an exciting event and everybody loved working on it — it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she added.
Sarah Burton was ‘honored’ to be chosen as Kate’s wedding dress designer.
While designers like Jasper Conran and Bruce Oldfield (a favorite of the late Princess Diana) were rumored to be in the running for the job, Alexander McQueen eventually came out on top. According to a palace statement on her wedding day, Kate chose the British brand “for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing,” and wanted the dress to “combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterizes Alexander McQueen’s work.” Sarah Burton, the brand’s creative director, certainly achieved that.
Discussing the process in an interview with the New York Times’ T magazine back in 2014, the designer said, “Some people think that I’m afraid to speak up about the happy experience I had creating the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, but I can tell you that is nonsense.”
“I loved making the dress…and we put our hearts into it. I respect the intimate nature of that lovely project and I respect the friendships that were forged during it. An instinctive, intelligent, imaginative young woman’s wish for a beautiful wedding dress — or any kind of dress — is the most natural thing in the world. And I was honored to pick up the challenge and always will be.”
Indeed, the process marked the start of a strong fashion partnership between the house of McQueen and the Duchess of Cambridge. For a high profile royal event, such as the Trooping the Color, a christening, or even the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Kate tends to opt for a smart custom design by Burton.
This artricle was originally written by Katie Rosseinsky. For more, check out our sister site, Grazia.