WINDSOR, England (AP) — Clare Waight Keller is the master British designer behind the silk boat-necked gown and long veil worn by Meghan Markle as she walked down the flower-bedecked nave of St. George’s Chapel for her wedding to Prince Harry.
The clean, undecorated dress highlighted Markle’s smiling face as she sat at the altar of the chapel, holding Harry’s hand as her long train lay at her feet.
“It’s brave to not have decorations and embellishments. What a strong fashion statement. It’s modern and classic at the same time,” Phillipa Lepley, a leading London bridal designer, told The Associated Press. “The overall look is very ’50s and gorgeous!”
Waight Keller, the first female artistic director of French fashion house Givenchy, met Markle earlier this year, Kensington Palace said. The statement said Markle wanted a dress with an “elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring, and relaxed demeanor.”
Markle’s choice was no casual affair. Televised royal weddings like this one have a massive effect on what brides everywhere want to wear and are closely watched across the fashion industry.
Princess Diana’s 1981 wedding gown, with its romantic details and dramatic train, defined the ’80s fairytale bridal look. More recently, when Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011, her long-sleeved lace gown immediately sparked a trend for more covered-up, traditional lace bridal dresses.
The designer of Markle’s dress was one of the wedding’s most closely-guarded secrets, sparking months of speculation.
Keller was a surprise choice — her name was not among the many designers slated to be possible contenders for what many call the dress commission of the year. Educated at the Ravensbourne College of Art in south London, Keller kicked off her career at Calvin Klein in New York designing women’s ready-to-wear before moving to Ralph Laruen to work on the men’s “Purple Label.”
After stints at Gucci, Pringle and Chloe, she was appointed as artistic director of Givenchy haute couture and women’s and men’s ready-to-wear last year.
Ahead of the wedding, the top guesses from Britain’s bookmakers for Markle’s wedding dress designer included Erdem, founded by Canadian-born designer Erdem Moralioglu; Ralph & Russo, the couture designers that Markle chose for her engagement dress; and Alexander McQueen, the label that created Kate’s wedding gown. Other contenders had included Stella McCartney, Burberry, and Oscar de la Renta.
It’s likely one of them will have designed Markle’s second dress for the evening reception.