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Why the new Duchess of Sussex chose Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy to design her wedding dress

Lauretta Roberts
19 May 2018

Just as Meghan Markle exited her car to walk up the aisle to wed Prince Harry at midday today, Kensington Palace issued a press statement to explain the now Duchess of Sussex's choice of Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy as the designer of her wedding dress.

"Ms. Waight Keller last year became the first female Artistic Director at the historic French fashion house Givenchy. After meeting Ms. Waight Keller in early 2018, Ms. Markle chose to work with her for her timeless and elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring, and relaxed demeanour," the statement said.

"Ms. Markle also wanted to highlight the success of a leading British talent who has now served as the creative head of three globally influential fashion houses – Pringle of Scotland, Chloé, and now Givenchy," it continued.

The simple, yet elegant dress with bateau neckline and three quarter length sleeves was crafted from an exclusively designed double bonded silk cady with an underskirt in triple silk organza. The key to the form-fitting style and pure lines of the dress is six "meticulously placed seams".

As per Meghan Markle's request the design of her veil represented the 53 countries of the Commonwealth with the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country "united in one spectacular floral composition". The veil is five meters long and made from silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza.

Each flower was worked flat, in three dimensions to create a unique and delicate design. The workers spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing and washing their hands every thirty minutes to keep the tulle and threads pristine.

In addition to the flora of the Commonwealth, Markle also selected two personal favourites: Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), which grows in the grounds of Kensington Palace in front of Nottingham Cottage, and the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) the State flower from Markle’s birthplace, California.

The veil was held in place by Queen Mary's diamond bandeau tiara, lent to the Duchess by The Queen. The diamond bandeau is English and was made in 1932, with the centre brooch dating from 1893. Her earrings and bracelet are by Cartier while her shoes are by Givenchy.

Hairdresser Serge Normant styled the Duchess's hair and her make-up was carried out by long-time friend and make-up artist Daniel Martin. Waight Keller also designed the bridesmaids' dresses while the page boys wore miniature version of the Blues and Royals frock coat, as worn by Prince Harry and Prince William.

Waight Keller was something of a surprise choice (though clearly a very good one) and her name was rarely mentioned in the list of supposed favourites to land one of the most prestigious fashion commissions. British couturiers Ralph & Russo were seen to be the favourites (though she may wear one of their designs for the reception), with other names said to be in the frame including Roland Mouret, Victoria Beckham (both present at guests), Christopher Bailey (the former Burberry creative chief) and Stella McCartney (who designed Amal Clooney's and Oprah Winfrey's outfits for the ceremony).


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