As you might imagine, much goes into making a royal wedding gown — especially when it’s for a wedding as historic as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s. The youngest of Prince Charles’ sons was set to wed an American actress — who also happened to be biracial and a divorcee — setting the stage for the first union of its kind. So, of course, Markle needed a dress to match such a major occasion.
British-born designer Clare Waight Keller, who’s now the artistic director of French fashion house Givenchy, was pegged to design the dress. According to Harper’s Bazaar, Markle had been an fan of Givenchy’s clean lines and sleek style for quite some time, and now that it was being run by a female for the first time — and a Brit, at that — all signs pointed to Keller as the perfect fit.
“I think she had seen my work and knew what I did,” Keller told Harper’s Bazaar. “I think she loved the fact that I was a British designer and working in a house such as Givenchy, which has its roots in a classical, beautiful style from the time of Hubert [de Givenchy] himself.”
The Design Process
Harry and Markle announced their engagement in November, and shortly after they set their wedding date for May 19 — meaning they had only six months to prepare for the special day. But, according to the royal family’s website, Markle didn’t select Keller as the designer until early 2018, meaning she and her team only had a few months to bring a spectacular dress to life in a relatively short time.
According to Harper’s Bazaar, the planning was done through meetings, text messages, emails — you name it. And of course, this was all kept very private. The dress was to remain a secret until the grand reveal at St. George’s chapel at exactly noon on May 19. Keller and the team that worked on the dress reportedly signed non-disclosure agreements.
Markle apparently had a vision for what she wanted the dress to look like.
“[Meghan] was really focused, as I was, on it being absolutely perfect for the occasion,” Keller told Harper’s Bazaar. She also mentioned that Markle had requested the dress be “pure white.”
Keller’s sketches of the dress have since been revealed online. According to Givenchy’s Instagram account, “the pure lines of the dress are achieved using six meticulously placed seams.” The dress’s “timeless” look was also meant to be symbolic.
Keller’s sketches were passed back and forth from there, all extremely quietly. Eventually, the final design was decided upon:
Behind The Style
Markle’s wedding ensemble had a very important story to tell. This was the dress Markle was going to make history in — so it paid tribute to the Commonwealth of Nations, fitting for her upcoming role as Duchess of Sussex, as well as giving a nod to her own upbringing and personal aesthetic.
“I have the luxury of wearing beautiful pieces of clothing every day for work, so my personal style — wedding or not — is very pared down and relaxed,” Markle told Glamour magazine in a 2016 interview. “Classic and simple is the name of the game, perhaps with a modern twist. I personally prefer wedding dresses that are whimsical or subtly romantic.”
She was seen wearing a similar neckline to the one that would be on her wedding dress during her engagement to Harry:
So, the dress was obviously keeping with her personal style.
And the veil was a way to honor the role she was about to take on. According to the royal family, the veil was embroidered with 53 flora, one distinctive of each of the Commonwealth nations. There were also reportedly two bonus flowers: wintersweet, which is in the garden of the couple’s Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace and the California poppy, which is the flower of Markle’s home state.
The Making Of The Royal Wedding Dress
Once the design was finalized, it was time to begin making the dress and its 16-foot veil. It was the veil that took the most time to complete, with nearly 500 hours spent creating each flower by hand, according to Harper’s Bazaar.
But, boy, was it worth it:
When the day of the wedding finally came, Markle would step into her dress for a final time, to literally marry her prince. On the day of the ceremony, she was reportedly calm and composed — oh and of course, “glowing.”
“She was absolutely radiant,” Keller told Harper’s Bazaar, adding that the bride’s calmness stunned her. “She was incredibly composed. It was really quite extraordinary.”
To complete the wedding look, the bride also wore Givenchy shoes, according to ABC News, and she chose a relaxed hairstyle to suit her personality.
“Her style is so easy and not contrived,” said Markle’s hairdresser, Serge Normant, according to People magazine.
And, in case you were wondering, Normant said the strands that came loose during the ceremony were intentional.
“I really wanted it to be loose,” he said. “There were a lot of little bits [around her face]. I wanted her to be able to tuck it behind her ears if she wanted to do, because that is what she normally does.”
This was the dress seen ’round the world and Markle nailed it! What did you think of the royal wedding dress?