Meghan Markle's Wedding Dress Sketched by 'Harry & Meghan' Costume Designer

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Meghan Markle

"I don't think she will go for the traditional white dress," says Claudia Da Ponte. The costume designer for the Lifetime film airing May 13 sketches her dream dress for THR.

The countdown is on for the May 19 royal wedding. But we already have the Hollywood version of the fairy tale: Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance on Lifetime (where else?), with Parisa Fitz-Henley as the Suits actress turned royal and Murray Fraser as the ginger prince.

The film covers the couple’s entire romantic history, including their blind date at the Soho House, a jaunt to Botswana to frolic with giraffes and the big proposal while cooking up dinner in the kitchen, with at least one scene between the sheets that has the Palace in a tizzy if Vanity Fair is to believed.

Onscreen versions of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Prince Charles and Princess Diana also make appearances, with Middleton sharing these words of wisdom to young Harry: "Peter Pan can't stay in Neverland forever.... Marriage isn't so bad,” she says, trying to convince him to abandon his hard-partying ways. On Markle, she asks: "She's American, she's divorced.... Are you ready for this?"

Costume designer Claudia Da Ponte has become as much of an expert on Markle's fashion sense as anyone, since she had to give herself a crash course on the nascent style icon's looks, studying paparazzi photos, press clippings and more to prepare for the shoot.

“We created timelines of what Meghan, Harry and Kate actually wore in reality and tried to correlate as much as possible,” she says of the costumes, which include approximations of Markle’s casual, less-is-more jeans and T-shirt looks; wrap coats; and straight skirts by Mackage, LINE, Joseph and Aritzia, which have generally sold out within minutes of her wearing them.

"The film has some great costume moments. I really love the Self-Portrait dress that we had Meghan in for when she meets the queen,” she says. “Another favorite is this beautiful red dress for a scene Meghan had with a certain stylist. Princess Diana's blue dress also really stands out in my mind,” adds Da Ponte of the look Diana wore to announce her royal engagement to Prince Charles.

Although the film stops just short of the royal wedding, we asked Da Ponte to handicap what she thinks Markle will wear in real life on the big day (Ralph & Russo, the British brand she wore in her official engagement photos, is rumored to be the frontrunner for designer).

For her wedding to Prince William in 2011, Middleton chose a gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, in one of the grandest fashion gestures the royal family had ever made. She looked to the house "for its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing," according to a statement that appeared on her official wedding website. She also worked closely with Burton in creating the dress, which paid homage to the British Arts and Crafts movement by tapping the Royal School of Needlework to make individual flowers hand-cut from lace in shapes of roses, thistle, daffodils and shamrocks.

Markle’s gown will be even more of a departure, Da Ponte says. “I don't think she will go for a traditional white dress.... It is also Meghan's second marriage.”

As far as symbolism goes, the costume designer says, “she is a biracial American marrying into the British monarchy so I think Meghan's dress should symbolize diversity and not just be a super-traditional British gown. I think she will strive to mix British with American influence on the day. Her style is classic but modern and I think she will apply that.” 

Check out this sketch of what Da Ponte would design for Markle.