As one might expect, this is (by far) the most buzzed-about aspect of the wedding. And why not, who doesn’t love a beautiful bridal gown? The WMW team anticipate Meghan wearing (at least) two gowns, as Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, did for her wedding. The first gown, worn for the ceremony, will make history as a royal wedding dress and surely set bridal trends for the years to come. This gown is anticipated to be formal, likely with a long train and very church-appropriate. As such, there’ll be a second gown – a more informal, wearable piece for Meghan to dance the night away in at the reception. From the beginning, a number of the same designers have been talked about as the front-runners for the commission. Our contributing writer Brooke Nurthen sets out our top 6 picks for the lucky brand:
Long considered a frontrunner, the Australian duo of Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo (partners inside and outside of the studio, the couple is married) has been identified by the Daily Mail as the company doing at least one of Meghan’s dresses. Of course, it all started when Meghan donned one of their show-stopping creations for her engagement photos.
The speculation escalated when the Royal School of Needlework tweeted a photo showing staff from the Ralph and Russo “Haute Couture Team” looking at students’ embroidery portfolios. The Royal School of Needlework produced the lace for Kate’s wedding gown.
A friend of Meghan’s, this French-born, British based designer has also been at the top of many ‘most likely’ lists. When the coy Frenchman spoke to Women’s Wear Daily recently and was asked about designing the dress, he demurred: “Mmmmm, I don’t want to say. No comment. It’s…there is no comment on that. She’s a friend. And that’s… I can’t say.”
Meghan has worn Mouret designs on many occasions and is obviously comfortable wearing the brand, and with the designer himself – which is a huge consideration when working with someone so closely on such an important piece. My feeling is Mouret’s creations lend him perfectly to the creation of the second dress, for the evening reception.
This British-born, Britain-based designer is my personal favorite pick for the wedding gown. Stella seems to me like an obvious pick for Meghan. Of the wedding vendors so far announced (including the cake, by Claire Ptak, and the flowers, by Philippa Craddock), the trend is clear – women-led, sustainable, ethical, British-based businesses, with cool, fashionable clienteles, are in. I see no reason Meghan wouldn’t continue this trend with her choice of dress designer. We’ve previously linked this article in The Telegraph about Stella becoming a ‘Royal Dresser In-Chief’ for Meghan, and my friend Hannah-Rose Yee sounded out her Stella predictions pretty well in this story for Whimn. McCartney has also recently re-acquired full control of her company, buying back the 50% share bought by luxury retail giants Kering. Meghan’s worn Stella designs before, most notably the popular navy-blue caped dress at the Queen’s Birthday Concert last month.
In keeping with Meghan’s tendency toward diplomatic sartorial choices, Canadian-born, London-based Erdem is a hot contender. In recent months the brand has moved their PR in-house – a standard move by a growing fashion company at any normal time, but with royal-wedding-dress-hype hitting fever pitch, everything is a clue. Founded by Turkish-Canadian Erdem Moralioglu, the brand is a favorite of the Duchess of Cambridge, who has worn Erdem on many occasions. Would this be a positive for Meghan (it already has the royal stamp of approval) – or would she prefer to forge her own path?
Rumors have swirled that designing Meghan’s dress would be a perfect ‘last hurrah’ for Christopher Bailey as he plans to leave Burberry at the end of the year. The Daily Mail has previously cited Burberry as a strong contender thanks to those famously chatty ‘unnamed sources’. Founded in the mid-1800s, the popular British heritage house would appear a perfect choice for a bride looking to appease the people of her new homeland. While not known at all for bridal wear, Bailey is a skilled designer and Meghan has worn the brand a couple of times since her engagement.
Another Commonwealth-centric pick along the Ralph and Russo / Erdem lines, and a woman-led brand, Wickstead is a New-Zealand born, British-based designer. She’s a new arrival to the bridal scene, releasing her first collection for Spring 2018 (click through for a few very Meghan-looking designs), and there’s a beautiful gallery of bespoke bridal pieces on her site. She made fashion headlines for designing Lady Charlotte Wellesley’s beautiful gown at her 2016 nuptials (Wellesley’s a descendant of Queen Victoria), and is a semi-regular favorite of the Duchess of Cambridge as well. Meghan wore a very smart bespoke ensemble from the brand on ANZAC day as well, so she clearly has a relationship with the brand. I’d love to see her in Wickstead for the wedding – my fingers are crossed with this one!
WMW writers Susan C and Susan K believe at least one designer will be a British heritage brand. Here’s our thoughts on some wild cards and other names that have been hotly discussed:
- Victoria Beckham – she’s denied it, however, Sarah Burton totally did that too when asked about Kate’s dress. We wouldn’t put it past cool, classic VB to be the mastermind behind *the* dress.
- Stewart Parvin – one of the Queen’s dressmakers, and Zara Tindall’s dress designer, this royal warrant holder would be a solid, safe bet for Meghan. Back in January, the Daily Mail called him a favorite.
- Philippa Lepley – one of London’s leading couture bridal designers and a popular pick for the smart set, Lepley designs classic, beautiful, very royally appropriate wedding gowns. She’d be a surprising pick, but an excellent one.
- Caroline Castigliano – another favorite of London’s high end of town, this British-born and based designer would be a savvy pick for a gorgeous, classic gown.
- Amanda Wakeley – another brand Meghan has already worn, and a label favored by Kate and Diana, don’t dismiss Wakeley as an option. She’s an underdog, but definitely not out of the running.
- Temperley London – Temperley wedding dresses are stunning, but this is a strongly Kate-favoured go-to brand for formal occasions; it’s probable that would steer Meghan away from the label.
- Catherine Walker – one of Kate’s go-to designers, and a favorite of Diana Princess of Wales, our money’s on Walker outfitting more than a couple of wedding guests, but not the bride herself.
- Alexander McQueen – far too strongly linked to Meghan’s future Sister-in-Law, we don’t think this is an option for Meghan. As Susan K told Racked, our money’s on Kate herself wearing bespoke McQueen to the wedding.
- Jenny Packham – another hotly-discussed potential we’ve mainly removed from the pack because of her strong ties to Kate.