Posts Tagged ‘royal wedding’


Sketch of Duchess of Sussex wedding dress by Clare Waight Keller. Image by Clare Waight Keller.

We now have seen Meghan Markel’s (Duchess of Sussex) wedding dress and we know who designed it – British designer Clare Waight Keller, artistic director of the French house Givenchy.

I must confess that I did not get up at the crack of dawn to watch it all. Heck, I  like my sleep and I knew I’d catch up in the following days. I watched the BBC coverage of what Ms. Keller had to say about the dress. She went into some detail about the veil and how she suggested including flora and fauna of the Commonwealth. She recounted for the BBC reporter what she had said to the bride: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if we took the 53 countries of the Commonwealth and embroidered a flower and some floral and fauna from each one of those and they would go up the aisle, the journey up the aisle with you …”

In wanting to create “a little bit of a wild garden” included in the veil were orchids, forget-me-knots, thistle, and so on.


Queen Elizabeth II Coronation gown. Designed by Norman Hartnell.

Hmm … this was ringing a bell. British designer Norman Hartnell did something similar for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation gown in 1953. I wrote about it for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The coronation gown included hand embroidered flowers of each of the Commonwealth – Tudor Rose, Thistle, Shamrock, etc. –  on the bodice and skirt of the dress. Great minds think alike in Great Britain!

Back to Meghan’s dress. For my two cents, I think it was stunning in its simplicity. I love the unusual boat neck and the 3/4 length sleeves were perfection. It was made from a double silk cady fabric, which is very stable and that allowed for the shape of the dress. My only quibble was the choice of white. Perhaps a little color would not have gone amiss. A pale blue or green for spring. There may be royal rules about such things, I don’t know.

The platinum and diamond tiara (on loan from the Queen) originally belonged to Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother. Keeping it minimal, the bride wore diamond earrings and a bracelet by Cartier. Again, some color here would have been a nice touch – rubies or emeralds. The look needed a pop.

It really was all about the veil and the best perspective on that was from above. It took many skilled workers and many hours to create. I read that each embroiderer stopped to wash their hands every 30 minutes to keep the white fabric white.

But what an honor to be part of such a significant event.

Congratulations to one and all! Now get some sleep.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Today is the day that an American divorcee marries Prince Harry and becomes a member of the British royal family. As for her title, we don’t know yet. That is up to the queen.


Wallis and Edward on their wedding day. Her dress by Mainboucher.

The last American divorcee to marry into the British Royal Family was Wallis Simpson. She married Edward VIII in 1937 after he abdicated the thrown for her. Under such circumstances, their wedding was hardly a royal affair. Instead it was low key including her dress, which was designed by Chicago-born couturier Mainboucher. It was a simple silhouette in silk crepe dyed “Wallis Blue” to match her eyes.

The couple were given the titles Duke and Duchess of Windsor and lived primarily in France. OK, so she didn’t make it to queen as she might have hoped, but for an American commoner duchess of anything is quite something.

She will never be queen either, but generally speaking Meghan Markle is in a much better position. She’s in good favor with the family (perhaps better mannered than Ms. Simpson was). It helps that Harry is way down in line to the throne. I’m pretty sure if William came home with an American divorcee, ah … the queen would not have been too happy. (Don’t forget that she prevented her sister, Princess Margaret, from marrying the divorced Peter Townsend.)

It seems Ms. Markle is a lovely woman – warm and friendly – like many Americans. A reporter recently pointed out that her experience as an actress will be helpful in dealing with all the media attention. I think she will be a positive representative of the United States and given our current oh-so-embarrassing president, we need all the help we can get.

Congratulations to Harry and Meghan. Happy Wedding Day!


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Speaking of the royal wedding (because EVERYONE is) Zandra Rhodes actually has nothing to do with it.  But the British designer did have an opinion when she was recently asked on Woman’s Hour her prediction for Meghan’s dress:  “I don’t think it will be too daring … not too low or too high or too short … they’ll make sure that she just looks gorgeous and the whole world thinks she’s gorgeous.”

She went on to say that she’s never met Meghan and although she would have liked to have designed the wedding dress, she wasn’t asked.

Princess-Anne1Ms. Rhodes did design various dresses for Princess Diana and in the early 1970s she designed the dress Princess Anne wore in the official engagement photos after the announcement that she was to marry Captain Mark Phillips. (They divorced in 1992, just FYI.) As you can see pictured on the left, it was very much a fairy-tale dress and of its era.




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Princess Anne makes Zandra Rhodes a Dame.

In 2015 Ms. Rhodes was made a Dame, presented with the honor by Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace. How nice is that?

Now, while the royal wedding is happening, so is (B)old Festival (damn, it’s going to be a madhouse in London). (B)old Festival is a weekend celebration along the south side of the Thames, celebrating all artists 65 and older. Dame Rhodes has designed a series of flags that will hang all along the festival hall.

Back to Meghan, her dress and the designer are top secret but we can be sure that 1. It will be stunning and 2. It will be in good taste. I’m hoping that, like Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, she’ll embrace sleeves. Because strapless wedding gowns are becoming old hat!

So, Royal Wedding Day 2018 is almost here. Let the countdown begin.




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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wearing Issa the day after her wedding. Does anyone else feel this dress is too short for her?

Are we feeling the royal void? No Kate news for weeks now. Sorry readers, we will have to get used to it.

Diana, Princess of Wales spoiled us with regular feeds of fashion and drama and perhaps we all thought that with a new princess, the good old days were back. Apparently not.

For one thing, Queen Elizabeth has granted the newlyweds a two-year reprieve from royal duties, allowing William to focus on his military job and Kate to settle into married life. For us that means fewer photo ops and Kate-fashion-plates to scrutinize.

Also, Kate will not be courting the press. It is considered bad form to outshine the future king and Kate is not Diana. According to British historian Andrew Roberts in Maclean’s magazine, Diana was a “meteor” and “blazing a trail the royals shouldn’t have blazed.” By contrast, Kate with her middle class roots is more grounded and “in it for the long haul.” She’s not going to do anything to annoy her new in-laws.

Kate is quite happy to follow her husband, literally. While on royal duties she will honor protocol and keep two steps behind her prince. Kate will not have a career, give any interviews or pose for pictures, other than official royal pics. We will rarely hear her voice and we will get to know the Duchess mostly through her fashion choices and what charities she supports.

Kate’s family will also feel the void. There won’t be any Windsor/Middleton shindigs and the Middleton family will celebrate holidays without their eldest daughter. Kate is a member of the royal family now and predictions are that she intends to tow the royal line.

(Note: The royals do have some celebrations coming up this summer. The Queen’s 85th birthday in June and Prince Philip’s 90th birthday is also in June. William and Kate are traveling to Canada in July with a stop in California on the way home. We just might get a peek at the newlyweds. Over Dressed for Life will be keeping an eye on Kate’s fashion.)

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Princes William and Harry in their wedding duds.

What about the guys? Ah, how should I say this – not my cup of tea? More like, hideous! Sorry, William and Harry, but your wedding look was way over the top. Too much red, too much gold and those stripes on the trousers … painful.

Both princes are in the military, so protocol probably called upon them to sport their dress uniforms – Prince William in Colonel of the Irish Guards and Prince Harry in Captain of the Household Cavalry. Each uniform includes symbolic medals and buttons and so on.

I usually like uniforms – US Navy Full Dress Whites, oh yes! I think it was all that red on William and all the gold bling on Harry that is off-putting.    

Dress attire is tough for men. When French restaurants put waiters in tuxedos it made the special event ensemble common. Cheap rentals have also tainted the tux. Morning coats are OK, although I’m not a fan of tails. I guess for me there’s nothing like a fine tailored three-piece suit in navy blue or gray (don’t like black for day time) with a patterned tie. Simplicity is my cup of tea. But I suppose what I prefer would not be up to snuff for such a formal occasion.

Are you attending a wedding this summer? Click here to read my article in the SF Chronicle on appropriate men’s attire for weddings.

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Catherine's wedding dress by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.

The Wills and Kate wedding is now a part of  royal history, but we’re all still buzzing over Catherine’s dress. Fashion follower Jydonne Bynum-Breiterman was up bright and early on the big day to watch the festivities and she was not (too) disappointed.

The gown was very simple and very finely cut, particularly the bodice.  It melded to Catherine’s form perfectly. The sweetheart neckline bodice and v-neck lace covering with sleeves were a perfect balance in exposing Catherine’s beautiful doe-like frame while maintaining taste and appropriateness. I have no doubt, while in the design process, Catherine and Sarah Burton had Grace Kelly in mind when piecing their inspiration board.

Jydonne called it with her prediction that the dress would be designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. “I think Catherine chose Alexander McQueen for Burton’s undeniable talent and the signficant contribution McQueen made to the industry,” explains Jydonne.

Although Jydonne feels the overall effect of the dress was successful, she admits she was slightly disappointed. “It was pretty but I feel it was safe and simple,” she says. “In dressing a princess, I was expecting a bit more standout detailing and beading.”

Jydonne points out that aside from the arms,  the lace was hard to see at a distance. She thinks given all the work that went into it, it should have been highlighted. To do so, the color of the lace could have been a bit darker than that of the gown.

Jydonne also has issues with the waistline, which she feels didn’t flatter Catherine’s sleek figure. “If they had pulled Catherine’s waistline down to her hips and molded the bodice,” explains Jydonne, “it would have been a totally different ballgame and still would have remained within the constraints of ‘decency’ for Westminster.”

But Jydonne gives a positive nod to the volume of the dress and length of the train, both important factors considering the size of Westminster Abbey. The dress in a venue like that has to be big enough to be seen, but not so big it overwhelms the bride.

There was a lack of color in Catherine’s ensemble and even the Maid of Honor was in white (while the groom and his best man were all ablaze in red and gold). A few colorful flowers in Catherine’s bouquet and little rose color to her cheeks would have been a welcome addition to the white palette.  

Catherine in her reception dress also designed by Sarah Burton.

As for the reception dress – boring!  “I believe it was more of an ensemble for a much older woman,” says Jydonne. A long, full gown in ivory with virtually no detailing except some sparkle at the waist, which was the best part. She topped it with a white Angora sweater that, as Jydonne says, is something one might wear to the library.  “I would have turned up the volume,” says Jydonne. 

(For my two cents on the reception dress: It has little to no style and it is not at all up to McQueen standards. It looks like a quick afterthought. Plus, for more glamour Catherine should have sported an updo and showcased those beautiful earrings she wore earlier in the day. However, having said that, at least Catherine didn’t go tarty, which unfortunately is a common choice for evening wear these days.)

I agree with Jydonne on every point. Overall, I thought Catherine looked lovely and the lace bodice was my favorite part of her dress.   

I want to thank Jydonne for her expertise and thoughtful review. Read more from Jydonne on her website: http://vintageleisure.com/

Readers, what do you think? Do you agree with us? Disagree? Have your say and leave a comment.

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Catherine in Alexander McQueen wedding dress with her Maid of Honor and sister, Philippa Middleton. Photo: Getty Images.

Yes indeed, the lovely Catherine Middleton, now a princess and a duchess, donned an elegant and traditional gown designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.  Here are the details:

  • designed by Sarah Burton from the British house of Alexander McQueen  
  • six-foot train
  • made of ivory and white satin gazar
  • bodice lace applique handmade by the Royal School of Needlework
  • the back is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Roulleau loops
  • other than the lace, fabrics provided by British companies
  • veil is made of ivory silk tulle
  • tiara made in 1936 by Cartier – loaned to Catherine by the Queen
  • earrings, designed by Robinson Pelham, oak leaf with drop diamond – inspired by the Middleton coat of arms and a gift to the bride from her parents
  • shoes were hand-made in satin by House of Alexander McQueen
  • the Maid of Honor’s dress was also designed by Sarah Burton (in non-traditional white)

Word is that Catherine worked closely with Sarah Burton in creating a dress that combined modern with traditional. Catherine chose House of Alexander McQueen for its excellent craftmanship and artistic vision.

Check back for Jydonne Bynum-Breiterman’s review.

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Catherine Middleton is not the first princess bride to keep her wedding dress a secret. Lady Diana Spencer also kept her frock under wraps, which required fake clues given to the press, a code name and around-the-clock security.

In 1981 Princess Diana's wedding dress and all her bridesmaids dresses cost a mere $1700.

The now iconic dress was designed by the London design team, David and Elizabeth Emanuel. Apparently Diana had seen one of their blouses and asked them to do a few sketches. The dress itself is early Victorian inspired with large puffy sleeves and a full tulle petticoat. It’s made of cream silk taffeta with bows, lace, and pearl detailing. Today the dress is exhibited around the world. During the summer the dress returns to the Spencer Althorp Estate  for display.  

The Emanuels designed the frock thinking fairytale princess and happily ever after. They also needed to create something that wouldn’t get lost in the expansiveness of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Hence the train … 25 feet of train.

So what will Kate’s dress be like? Something modern no doubt, perhaps sleek without a lot of frills. Will she wear white? Diana wore the Spencer tiara – Kate doesn’t have one of those but perhaps a tiara will be the something borrowed. Or she might go with her favored fascinator. The speculations are endless and all part of the fun leading up to the big day.

What do you think, readers? What would you like to see Kate wearing?

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Kate Middleton shows promising ladylike style.

Ah well, it was bound to come … another royal wedding. Although I am a certified Anglophile, I’m not a royal watcher. Old-school royals, like Victoria and Albert, sure, but the antics of the modern family – no thanks.

However, as a fashion writer I will be closely watching princess-to-be Kate Middleton. I have high hopes that she will bring ladylike manner and fashion back into vogue.

A quick perusal of her style shows promise. She chooses smart tailored pieces topped with chic coats; boots are favored as well as slinky dresses.  The lovely sapphire blue number she wore for her public engagement announcement was a nice choice. The wrap-dress was a striking and flattering color with a hemline that cautiously hit  just above the knee. Simple black pumps rounded out the ensemble. It was flirty yet tasteful.

I surmise that, just like the late Princess Diana, Kate will over time develop her own style and become a fashion icon to millions of women, hopefully making a shift away from the current rather tawdry trend of stripper shoes and tats to a fashion sense of dignity and sophistication. 

We shall see.  In the meantime, congratulations Kate!

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