The Bride's Dress

Catherine Middleton's wedding dress was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen.

Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing.  The dress combined tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterised Alexander McQueen's work.

Catherine Middleton worked closely with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress. Sarah Burton also designed the dress for Catherine Middleton's maid of honour, her sister Pippa Middleton.

The making of the dress drew together talented and skilled workmanship from across the United Kingdom.

The Design

The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace.  The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s. Individual flowers were hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design, incorporating  the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock. 

Hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace was used throughout the bodice and skirt, and was used for the underskirt trim. With laces coming from different sources, much care was taken to ensure that each flower was the same colour. The whole process was overseen and put together by hand by Ms Burton and her team.

The dress was made with ivory and white satin gazar. The skirt echoed an opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats.  The train measured two metres 70 centimetres.  The ivory satin bodice, which narrowed at the waist and was padded at the hips, drews on the Victorian tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen's designs. The back was finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops. The underskirt was made of silk tulle trimmed with Cluny lace.

The Fabrics

French Chantilly lace was combined with English Cluny lace to be hand-worked in the Irish Carrickmacross needlework tradition.

All other fabrics used in the creation of the dress were sourced from and supplied by British companies.  The choice of fabrics followed extensive research by Sarah Burton and her team.

The Royal School of Needlework

The Royal School of Needlework (RSN), based at Hampton Court Palace, assisted the Alexander McQueen team in accurately cutting out the delicate motifs from the lace fabrics and positioning the lace motifs with precision into the new design.  The lace motifs were pinned, 'framed up' and applied with stab stitching every two to three millimetres around each lace motif.  The workers washed their hands every thirty minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, and the needles were renewed every three hours, to keep them sharp and clean.

The RSN workers included existing staff, former staff, tutors, graduates and students, with the youngest aged 19.

The RSN's work was used primarily for the train and skirt of the Bride's dress, the bodice and sleeves, the Bride's shoes and the Bride's veil.

 

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