LONDON: The dress is not everything but it’s a lot. And the Givenchy couture dress chosen by Meghan Markle for her marriage to Prince Harry told a story about contemporary romance, geopolitical history and the institution she married. But above all, most importantly, it offers a bit of knowledge of the bride herself.
The elegant white dress, with its six strategically placed seams, was sewn of a heavy silk with a subtle shine. A simple bateau neckline gracefully framed his face. The body of the dress subtly delineated her waist and flowed in a full train. But most remarkable were all the things that the dress was not. It was not a Hollywood red carpet statement. It was not a fantasy of the Disney princess. It was not a camouflage mountain of tulle and gauze.
The dress, designed by Clare Waight Keller, was free of extravagant embellishments. It was not covered with yards of delicate lace. I did not have a single flyer, or pearls or crystals. Its beauty was in its architectural lines and its security in the containment. It was a romantic dress, but one that suggested a clear understanding that a real-life romance is not part of fairy tales. The dress was a backdrop; I was at the woman’s service.
The woman. That’s what the dress emphasizes. It is not a nuptial fantasy. No princess tropes. It is not a real pomp.
It was the veil, five meters of delicate silk tulle embroidered with flowers that represented the 53 countries of the British Commonwealth, the Palace of Kensington and his home state of California, which carried the weight of history, duty and tradition. She wore it with Queen Mary’s bandeau-style diamond and platinum headband, which had been borrowed from her by her new mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II. The tiara, created in 1932, is dominated by a central brooch dating from 1893.
Prince Harry wore the uniform of the Blues and Royals frock coat. Fortunately, he did not shave his beard.
Keller is a British designer who previously worked for Pringle of Scotland and Chloe. She is the first woman to run the French fashion house Givenchy, one of the most venerable names in the industry and closely associated with the elegant and sophisticated style of Audrey Hepburn. Keller belongs to the small group of female designers who have directed some of the most influential fashion houses: women who have focused their work as one that aims to empower their clients instead of simply decorating them.