TORONTO — Canadian stylewatchers are giving a fashion stamp of approval to the royal wedding gown, an understated but luxurious creation they predict will have long-term ripple effects as a trendsetter for bridal style.
The much-anticipated dress designed by Sarah Burton from the British fashion house of Alexander McQueen is winning raves on this side of the Atlantic for its simplicity and elegance.
The meticulously crafted creation featured hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace used throughout both the bodice and skirt. Individual flowers were hand-cut from lace and appliqued onto ivory silk tulle.
Sarah Casselman, senior editor, fashion news at Fashion Magazine, said her first impressions of the gown were that it was an “absolute dream” and that the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge had hit the fashion mark.
The Queen conferred the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge upon Prince William and Kate Middleton upon their marriage Friday.
“Certainly the intricate lace detailing immediately caught my eye,” she said in an interview.
“We’re going to see lots of romantic lace inspiration, I think, upcoming for spring-summer and into fall-winter for next year.”
Casselman also thought the controlled volume of the dress was “very appropriate” and befitting of the bride.
“Certainly, this is a girl who has fantastic personal style, and she did not compromise that just to go through with a royal wedding.”
Canadian bridal designer Sarah Houston also loved the lace and thought the duchess’s gown was conservative and appropriate for the venue.
Houston said she anticipated the bride would wear sleeves and hopes it’s one style element that will emerge in future bridal designs.
With the succession of strapless dresses seen over the past decade, Houston said it’s a “nice change” to start seeing brides who are now asking for straps and shoulder details.
“There’s a lot of different things that you can do with sleeves and it just adds that mystery to a bridal gown,” she said at her recently opened bridal salon in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood.
“It’s harder to wear a strapless dress than it is to wear something with sleeves,” she added.
“A lot of people are conscious about their arms and this is a good way to cover it up, whether you choose lace or go to a finer fabric.”
Many have also remarked about the similarities with another famous long-sleeved lace royal wedding gown, the one worn by the late Princess Grace of Monaco.
But Casselman believed Burton took the dress in a modern direction with details such as the plunging neckline.
Houston thought Middleton would opt for a more form-fitting dress, but thinks the style chosen was complimentary to her new regal role. Both Casselman and Houston applauded the choice of the McQueen label. Burton took the helm following the late designer’s suicide last year.
“I think in the fashion world we were all secretly hoping it would be Sarah Burton,” said Casselman.
“She’s had such a fantastic run so far at the house of McQueen, and it certainly marries the idea of majesty and modernity which I think Kate definitely pulled off with her dress. It’s certainly a lovely tribute to the late Alexander McQueen.”
Melissa Lui was similarly surprised by the choice of a less form-fitting, more voluminous dress, admitting she let out an audible gasp when Middleton first stepped out of the Rolls-Royce.
Nonetheless, she was wowed.
“While I thought that based on her personality it would have been different, I thought this was really fitting for the event itself because it needed that drama because so many people around the world are watching it,” said Lui, Edmonton-based editor of Wedding Obsession, a Canadian wedding blog dedicated to the modern bride.
“But I’m also a big fan of lace, and I love the traditional look of lace, so I was really amazed at how she pulled it off. She looked absolutely beautiful.”
While the main focus was on the bride, others within the bridal party as well as guests were also in the style spotlight.
Houston called maid of honour Pippa Middleton’s dress “stunning,” and wasn’t surprised by the choice of white.
“Traditionally, a lot of British weddings — from what I’ve seen of my brides — they don’t tend to go for a lot of bright colours, and I think that for an Abbey wedding it was subdued, classical and very elegant,” said Houston, who also has a few U.K.-based stores.
Casselman loved the Queen’s choice of “optimistic” yellow, and Houston remarked the monarch’s brooch was a real focal point of the outfit.
Casselman also felt the mother of the bride, Carole Middleton, looked “lovely” and “modern,” and the sky-blue colour of the wool crepe coatdress and matching hat was a perfect complement. One of Lui’s fashion favourites was Samantha Cameron, wife of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who she thought looked “refined and chic” in her teal dress.
One of the most buzzed-about looks wasn’t a dress but a headpiece — namely the towering fascinator worn by Princess Beatrice, Prince William’s cousin and daughter of Prince Andrew.
“I know that it was supposed to be a ribbon on the front of her hat, but it sort of looked like an octopus. It was a total distraction from her face,” said Lui.
A Facebook page dubbed “Princess Beatrice’s ridiculous Royal Wedding hat” had netted more than 21,000 “likes” on the social networking site by Friday afternoon.
As for the main fashion attraction of the day — the royal bridal gown — the dress is widely being regarded as a style success.
While some may quibble over the finer details, Casselman said the duchess has set the bar for her signature look going forward.
“People will say, ‘Was the train too short? Was it too long?’ There’s going to be some speculation as to ‘Was it grand enough?’ But I think she really stuck to her guns. She was true to herself.”