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Monday April 11, 2011

Who will design Kate's wedding gown?

As the world waits with bated breath for a glimpse of the royal wedding gown, the million-dollar question is, who is the anointed designer?

THE moment Clarence House announced the wedding engagement between Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton, both 28, in mid-November last year, there was a flurry of questions that buzzed around the globe.

People wondered whether the exes would be invited, how the bride-to-be was being inducted into the royal family, who wouldn’t be invited to the wedding, what would her title be after marriage and even what type of music they would be playing!

While we can predictably guess what the groom will be wearing – his full military Royal Air Force uniform (The Telegraph apparently reported that Middleton finds his uniform sexy) – the more pressing question is which designer will be handed the very important but possibly nerve-wrecking job of designing Middleton’s wedding gown.

Happy occasion: Prince William and Kate Middleton, in a dress designed by Daniella Issa Helayel, pose for photographers during a photocall to mark their engagement at St James Palace, London.

It’s not every day that a royal wedding takes place and the gown will go down in the annals of history of royal weddings. And, of course, the whole world will be watching!

The wedding of the century is expected to garner a worldwide viewership of 2.5 billion people (Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981 drew a viewership of 750 million), and when people tune in this time, it is not only going to be on television, but also viewed on computers, ipads and mobile phones.

Middleton, who was born on Jan 9, 1982, grew up in Berkshire and after attending Marlborough College, went on to University of St Andrews, Scotland, where in 2001 she met Prince William, who was also studying there.

The eldest child of Carole Elizabeth, 56, a former flight attendant and Michael Francis Middleton, 62, a pilot with British Airways, she has a sister, Pippa Charlotte, and a brother, James William.

Middleton graduated with honours in the History of Art and in November 2006, got a job as an accessory buyer with Jigsaw, a clothing chain in Britain.

And, how did Middleton meet her Prince Charming? Well, the story goes that it was a see-through dress – originally meant to be a skirt – that she wore during a university charity fashion show, that caught William’s attention and sparked the romance!

When Middleton and William started a relationship, the media attention led to her being featured on several best-dressed lists including The Daily Telegraph, Tatler, People magazine, Style.com, Vanity Fair and Richard Blackwell’s 10 “Fabulous Fashion Independents” list.

But after a very public courtship, the relationship came to a halt and the couple broke up in April 2007. However, later in the same year, they reconciled and now, as we all know, the couple is bethrothed to be married on April 29 at Westminster Abbey, London.

In a break with tradition, Middleton will be arriving at the church in a car instead of a glass carriage. The world will get a proper first look at her only when she steps out of her car.

That’s when the designer of the gown will be revealed! If the chosen designer is not already famous, he or she will surely be catapulted to fame!

Thirty years ago, designers Elizabeth Emanuel and her former husband, David – who were relatively unknown then – were asked to design Diana’s wedding gown, and it changed their lives forever.

Everyone who was glued to their television sets for the wedding between William’s father, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, would undoubtedly remember the aerial shot of the 20-year-old Diana walking down the aisle with her gorgeous 8m (25ft) train trimmed in lace trailing behind her.

This was during the 1980s when it was “all about wild romance”, according to Elizabeth in an interview with the Daily Mail last November. As such, Diana’s dress was all frothy and frilly, and the style became known as the “meringue”.

Diana’s dress featured a ruffled collar, huge puffed sleeves with ribbons, and a full skirt of ivory silk and pure taffeta, antique lace and hand embroidery that employed 10,000 pearls and sequins.

While Diana’s wedding gown was considered one of the most famous celebrity wedding dresses of all time, it was also a gown that was much criticised, tragically dubbed the “puff ball meringue”!

Unfortunately, a flaw was revealed the moment Diana stepped out of the glass carriage (that carried her to the church wedding) – the dress was terribly wrinkled – and the media’s professional cameras were most unforgiving when the crumpled gown was captured in photographs that were splashed around the world!

The Emanuels were critiqued for their method of constructing the dress, along with the choice of fabric.

In response to the criticism, the designers pointed out that the carriage was far too small to properly fit both Diana and her bouffant skirt plus an 8m train, along with her robustly built father!

So, as you can see, designing the royal wedding gown may elevate a designer’s reputation, but at the same time, the weight of responsibility can intimidate even the most experienced designer. In a Daily Mail interview, Elizabeth said that she “didn’t think the Palace realised what a big deal it was going to be. They were unprepared for the level of interest.”

While working on the wedding gown, the Emanuels had to have their blinds down at the windows of their shop and even employed security guards to keep the secret of the design from getting out.

They also faced the possibility of having their staff being tempted by offers from interested parties to reveal details about the gown.

While it is highly speculated that Middleton will choose a British designer for this historic wedding gown, the odds are she may cross the shores to get a designer whom she has been an admirer of!

While every notable designer on the planet has been named as a possible royal wedding dress designer, British designers are favoured by the bookies.

The idea of buying British would be the savvy thing to do for the princess-to-be as it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have the people on her side.

The bookmakers’ favourites are society dressmakers Philippa Lepley and Brazilian-born but British-based Daniella Issa Helayel, who designed the electric blue dress that Middleton wore at her engagement. Sarah Burton from the House of Alexander McQueen is also touted to be a strong contender for putting a fashionable edge to Middleton’s gown.

Others include high-fashion names such as Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney, Bruce Oldfield, Amanda Wakeley, Alice Temperley, Jasper Conran and even Victoria Beckham.

If Middleton, who already has a self-assured sense of style and will be 29 when she walks down the aisle, decides against waving the British flag, then she’s spoilt for choice. From wedding day experts like Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta to high fashion gurus like Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace, they’ll surely be more than happy to oblige!

Well, by now, the chosen one is undoubtedly working feverishly on the gown, and according to Huffington Post Royal Correspondent Yvonne Yorke, in an interview with The Telegraph in December, “the wedding dress is currently a work in progress right inside Buckingham Palace” and hints that the gown is by “a little-known British designer”.

Regardless of which designer Middleton anoints, we hope that she will look radiant in her gown as this will be her shining moment when the world acknowledges her as a future queen. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the dress won’t be wrinkly!

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