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After weeks of speculation, Meghan Markle has emerged in a Givenchy couture wedding gown designed by Clare Waight Keller.
The celebrity-packed wedding took place Saturday in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where guests including Oprah Winfrey; George and Amal Clooney; David and Victoria Beckham; Idris Elba; Tom Hardy; Carey Mulligan; Elton John; Priyanka Chopra; Serena Williams; and Markle’s Suits co-stars Gabriel Macht, Patrick Adams, Rick Hoffman, Sarah Rafferty and more gathered to see the American actress marry Prince Harry after a whirlwind romance that even sparked a Lifetime movie.
The gown is modern, sleek and minimal, in keeping with Markle’s personal style, with three-quarters-length sleeves, a boat neck, sculpted waist and train that flows in soft round folds, somewhat reminiscent of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s famous 1996 gown that was designed by Narciso Rodriguez. The bride wore her hair up, with a filigree tiara loaned by the queen.
Altogether, it’s a simpler look than Kate Middleton’s Alexander McQueen gown, which had intricate lace sleeves. The elegant, sculptural shoulder line of Markle’s dress is quite striking, though, and should be a bridal fashion trendsetter.
It’s a shocking turn that Markle went with Waight Keller, the female artistic director of the French fashion house of Givenchy since March 2017. Several other designers had been frontrunners, including Stella McCartney and the British house of Ralph & Russo.
“We wanted to create a timeless piece that would emphasize the iconic codes of Givenchy throughout its history,” said Waight Keller in a release, noting the sharp cuts on the dress and details on the organza veil, which has floral embroidery representing all 53 countries of the British Commonwealth, according to the bride’s wishes. Crops of wheat were also embroidered on the veil to represent “love and charity.” Workers spent hundreds of hours making the pieces, washing their hands every 30 minutes to keep the organza and threads pristine.
To 1,000-plus years of British and French rivalry, apparently, Markle said “Pshaw.” Well, sort of. Although Waight Keller is at Givenchy, and before that was at French house Chloe, she is a native Brit who studied for her B.A. at Ravensbourne College of Art. She gained her master’s in fashion knitwear at the Royal College of Art.
She also spent time in the U.S. at Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, and in the early 2000s relaunched the British heritage brand Pringle of Scotland, after a stint alongside Tom Ford at Gucci. So you might say, she’s about as global a designer as they come.
And Givenchy, of course, has a long Hollywood association. Its namesake, who died earlier this year at age 91, was closely associated with Audrey Hepburn, whom he dressed on- and offscreen, including for Sabrina (1954), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and more. A French aristocrat, Givenchy founded his label in 1952. Early in his career, he garnered attention stateside for his artist-muse relationship with Hepburn, with whom he also developed a close personal relationship, forging a bond between Hollywood and haute couture that still thrives today. “I’m as dependent on Givenchy as some Americans are on their psychiatrist,” the actress once said.
It was a big deal when Waight Keller was appointed the first female artistic director of the fashion house, where she has been steering the company in a more rock ‘n’ roll direction. Gal Gadot wore Waight Keller’s sparkly silver fringe gown to the Oscars. Cate Blanchett is also a fan of the designer, who is one of a new generation of women leading storied French fashion brands. “I’m excited for her, I’m excited for women, I’m excited for Givenchy,” the actress told THR last year.
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