On the morning April 29, 2011, the world learned that Kate Middleton, the woman about to marry the crown prince of Britain, had chosen Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen, to design her wedding dress. “Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterizes Alexander McQueen’s work,” read the statement that was sent out to the world, just minutes before Prince William and Kate tied the knot in one of the most watched wedding ceremonies in history.
The lace long-sleeves and v-neck silhouette of her custom dress were made from hand-cut English and Chantilly lace, while the gown’s full skirt were created with white and ivory satin gazar trimmed with Cluny lace. Along the back of the dress, 58 silk and organza buttons were fastened by Rouleau loops, while the bodice, handmade using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, featured a number of flowers, including lilies, roses, thistle, daffodils and shamrocks. As for the train, it clocked in at almost nine feet and needed the help of Kate’s sister, Pippa Middleton, to go down the aisle. (That maid of honor moment also launched Pippa into global stardom.)
Kate’s “something borrowed” was the Cartier Halo tiara, on loan from Queen Elizabeth II, who received it as a gift from the Queen Mother on her 18th birthday. An ivory silk veil made at the Royal School of Needlework was placed on top of it. As for her something blue, Sarah Burton sewed a small blue ribbon into the lining of the dress for good luck. The Duchess of Cambridge’s dress was universally well-received by critics and designers including Oscar de la Renta and Karl Lagerfeld, who said: “It almost reminds me of Elizabeth’s wedding, the royal weddings in the 50s. The proportion of the train is good. The lace is very pretty. I like the veil a lot.” Kate’s dress went on to inspire thousands of copycat designs, and is credited for having a large influence on bridal style going forward. Eight years later, her dress remains as timeless and beloved as when it first spotted going inside Westminster Abbey; a sign that it will live on as an iconic piece of fashion history.