She stepped out of the Rolls-Royce and the world took a collective breath.
Finally, we got to see the dress – slated for weeks, months, years, some might say years – that Kate Middleton would wear to marry her prince. Entering Westminster Abbey, the future Duchess of Cambridge made fashion history with a look that would forever change the style of wedding.
The sleek design, from British designer Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, was a stark contrast to the strapless gowns that had dominated weddings in the 2010s. It was 2011, and the delicate lace sleeves, cinched bodice and skirt. Kate’s fuller was a complete start.
Since then, bridal shops have made reference to the look.
Last year I was looking for my own wedding dress when the boutique owner showed me a satin boat neck number she dubbed ‘The Meghan’, for its similarity to the Givenchy wedding dress. worn by the Duchess of Sussex in 2018. She then gestured to a whole rail of long-sleeved lace-up dresses, “for those who prefer the Kate Middleton look.”
On the 10th anniversary of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, designer and dressmaker Holly Winter explains that the royal wedding marked a crucial change in wedding style that continues to influence dresses today.
“As Kate got out of the car to reveal her dress, a BBC expert practically shouted, ‘This is a fashion moment! And it really was, ”she told HuffPost UK. “The Naughties bridal shops were filled with huge tulle ball gowns and you would be lucky to have found a strap, let alone a sleeve. I was no different – getting married in 2008 in a strapless dress, as if I had just stepped out of the bath.
Winter kept an eye on eBay to see how long it would take for a replica of the Kate dress to appear – and someone pulled it off in just 12 hours. In 2012, she says, dresses with sleeves were in high demand.
Just as, three decades earlier, Princess Diana’s puffy dress had been copied by brides of the 1980s, Kate’s dress became the marker for brides of the 2000s – and beyond.
Pinterest, the site many couples use to plan their weddings, traced the royal influence. Despite the pandemic that made headlines over understated wedding trends, the site actually saw a 55% year-over-year increase in the search term “princess wedding dresses,” calculated from research worldwide between April 2020 and April 2021. The term “The Long Sleeve Lace Wedding Dress” has also doubled in popularity, while the “Kate Middleton Dress” is up 70% from last year .
Although Kate’s dress marked a change from the styles that had dominated the previous decade, it was based on a classic style, says Sarah Haywood, luxury wedding planner and royal wedding commentator – and that’s the secret. of its longevity.
The Duchess’s dress was heavily influenced by the dress worn by American actress Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainer III of Monaco in 1956, Haywood explains.
“The shape, the silhouette, the sleeves… it’s very reminiscent of Grace Kelly’s wedding dress, and it’s quite amazing,” Haywood told HuffPost.
“Royal brides know that we are going to be looking at these photos forever, so it was probably important to go for something very classic, that later she [Kate] was not going to regret.
“This dress will stand the test of time, that’s one of the most successful aspects about it. You could wear this dress now, 10 years later, and it wouldn’t look out of place.
Modesty is a must for royal brides and while based on classic styling, Kate’s dress was a game-changer, in that it used lace rather than an opaque, concealing fabric, Winter adds. .
“Consider the barely there bodices and illusion panels of today’s bridal trends and you’ll find they’re just a reinterpretation of Kate’s look, just extending the sheer into the bodice,” she says.
Kate can also thank the loyalty of American celebrities for keeping the look popular. Kim Kardashian has apparently asked designers to take inspiration from the Duchess when planning her wedding to Kanye West in 2014.
“Kim loves Kate’s style and while she’s planning several dresses for her big day, she wants the one for the ceremony to look like Kate’s dress,” a source said at the time. “The slip is a wise princess and she will also be wearing a tiara.” When Kim’s Givenchy dress was finally revealed, it looked like she had made her wish come true.
Stars like Sophie Turner, Kate Upton and Jacqueline Jossa have since worn long-sleeved dresses with a silhouette reminiscent of Kate.
According to Winter, a perhaps surprising legacy of Kate’s dress is that padding is still popular in bridal and mainstream styles.
In 2011, the palace released a statement describing how the Burton-designed skirt “echoes an opening flower”, complementing “the ivory satin bodice, narrowed to the waist and padded to the hips.”
Kate’s padded hips came three years before Kim Kardashian ‘smashed the internet’ with her booty. Since that time, I’ve noticed a real shift between brides asking me to design dresses that make their breasts look bigger to ones that showcase their hips and butt, ”says Winter. “At least one bride wears padded panties.”
On the subject of bums, Pippa Middleton’s rear has been much discussed after her appearance as a bridesmaid, and Haywood says her outfit has sparked a trend for flattering, ivory bridesmaid dresses that are still loved by some customers.
Other elements of the day have stood the test of time, Haywood adds, such as a move towards brides wearing their hair down and bridal bouquets with flowers that mean something to the couple.
Kate’s bouquet was designed by Shane Connolly and was based on “flower traditions important to the royal family, the Middleton family and the language of flowers,” according to a statement released by the palace.
In fact, the details released by the Royal Family about William and Kate’s wedding gave us more information about planning the royal wedding than we ever had before.
“They told us everything – why she was in the car she was in, why she was wearing what she was wearing, why the abbey was decorated the way she was, why they chose the words they were wearing. wore, ”says Haywood.
“Absolutely everything told a story, and that’s a big legacy of this marriage: the storytelling. People these days, when they get married, want to tell a story and they want that story to be part of everything they do.
For some, the allure of Kate’s dress is not fashion at all, but the fairytale marriage between a normal woman who married her prince.
Yet we look back on April 29, 2011 and remember seeing the moment Harry, as William’s witness, first saw Kate walking down the aisle, and turned to her. brother to whisper to him: “She is beautiful.
The fate of the Royal Family over the next 10 years remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: this dress was certainly something special.
“Weddings are so steeped in tradition that only the most enduring fashion trends make them bridal wear, and they tend to take longer to get here, too,” says Winter. “You know that if a detail is adopted by the bridal world, it is a huge success.”