Miss Catherine Middleton’s Wedding Dress has been designed by Sarah
Burton at Alexander McQueen.
Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of
its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the
technical construction of clothing. Miss Middleton wished for her dress
to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that
characterises Alexander McQueen’s work. Miss Middleton worked closely
with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress.
The dress epitomises timeless British craftsmanship by drawing together
talented and skilled workmanship from across the United Kingdom. The
dress design pays tribute to the Arts and Crafts tradition, which
advocated truth to materials and traditional craftsmanship using simple
forms and often Romantic styles of decoration. Ms Burton’s design draws
on this heritage, additionally giving the cut and the intricate
embellishment a distinctive, contemporary and feminine character.
The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal
School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace. The lace design
was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making
technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s. Individual flowers
have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle
to create a unique and organic design, which incorporates the rose,
thistle, daffodil and shamrock.
Hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace has been used throughout
the bodice and skirt, and has been used for the underskirt trim. With
laces coming from different sources, much care was taken to ensure that
each flower was the same colour. The whole process was overseen and put
together by hand by Ms Burton and her team.
The dress is made with ivory and white satin gazar. The skirt echoes an
opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats. The train
measures two metres 70 centimetres. The ivory satin bodice, which is
narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips, draws on the Victorian
tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen’s designs.
The back is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened
by Rouleau loops. The underskirt is made of silk tulle trimmed with
French Chantilly lace was combined with English Cluny lace to be
hand-worked in the Irish Carrickmacross needlework tradition.All other
fabrics used in the creation of the dress were sourced from and supplied
by British companies. The choice of fabrics followed extensive research
by Sarah Burton and her team.
Royal School of Needlework
The Royal School of Needlework (RSN), based at Hampton Court Palace,
assisted the Alexander McQueen team in accurately cutting out the
delicate motifs from the lace fabrics and positioning the lace motifs
with precision into the new design. The lace motifs were pinned,
‘framed up’ and applied with stab stitching every two to three
millimetres around each lace motif. The workers washed their hands
every thirty minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, and the
needles were renewed every three hours, to keep them sharp and clean.
The RSN workers included existing staff, former staff, tutors, graduates
and students, with the youngest aged 19.
The RSN’s work was used primarily for the train and skirt of the Bride’s
dress, the bodice and sleeves, the Bride’s shoes and the Bride’s veil.
The veil is made of layers of soft, ivory silk tulle with a trim of
hand-embroidered flowers, which was embroidered by the Royal School of
Needlework. The veil is held in place by a Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, lent
to Miss Middleton by The Queen. The ‘halo’ tiara was made by Cartier in
1936 and was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for
his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before
he succeeded his brother as King. The tiara was presented to Princess
Elizabeth (now The Queen) by her mother on the occasion of her 18th
The Bride’s earrings, by Robinson Pelham, are diamond-set stylised oak
leaves with a pear shaped diamond set drop and a pavé set diamond acorn
suspended in the centre. Inspiration for the design comes from the
Middleton family's new coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak
leaves. The earrings were made to echo the tiara. The earrings were a
personal gift to the Bride from her parents for her Wedding Day.
Robinson Pelham have also designed and made a pair of diamond earrings
for Miss Philippa Middleton. These earrings are more floral in nature
to compliment the headpiece worn by Miss Philippa Middleton during the
A tourmaline and diamond pendant and matching earrings have been
designed and made for Mrs. Carole Middleton. Two gold stick pins, one
with a single gold acorn at the head and the other with an oak leaf, are
also worn respectively by the Father of the Bride, Mr. Michael
Middleton, and the Bride's brother, Mr. James Middleton.
The wedding shoes have made hand-made by the team at Alexander McQueen
and are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the
Royal School of Needlework.
The bouquet is a shield-shaped wired bouquet of myrtle,
lily-of-the-valley, sweet William and hyacinth. The bouquet was
designed by Shane Connolly and draws on the traditions of flowers of
significance for the Royal Family, the Middleton family and on the
Language of Flowers.
The flowers’ meanings in the bouquet are:
Lily-of-the-valley – Return of happiness
Sweet William – Gallantry
Hyacinth – Constancy of love
Ivy: Fidelity; marriage; wedded love; friendship; affection
(read more about
meanings of flowers)
Myrtle: the emblem of marriage; love. The bouquet contains stems from a
myrtle planted at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, by Queen Victoria in
1845, and a sprig from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s
wedding bouquet of 1947.
The tradition of carrying myrtle begun after Queen Victoria was given a
nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit
to Gotha in Germany. In the same year, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
bought Osborne House as a family retreat, and a sprig from the posy was
planted against the terrace walls, where it continues to thrive today.
The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria eldest daughter, Princess
Victoria, when she married in 1858, and was used to signify the
traditional innocence of a bride.