GC Queen Weekend: A Royal (Fashion) Affair

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Katherine and William, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge: By Cpl Dylan Browne, Ministry of Defense, Defense Images (Creative Commons)

The bells of Westminster Abbey rang out in joyful chorus for the nuptials of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton. By now, she is now the Duchess of Cambridge,  Princess William of Wales, and the talk of the world alongside her famous kindred.  Media outlets went in to gear since the engagement announcement that culminated in an all out frenzy for the event of the year, and some might say even the decade.  Speculation from what the vows would say, who would or wouldn’t wear a ring, right down to what would be served for food has since been answered by the top journalistic communities of the world.  Thousands on thousands of people crossed the threshold with Kate, or held their breath beside William.  Thousands on thousands of people became geeks for a few precious hours. Yes, it’s been said.

Obsessions were freed.  Be it the royals themselves, tradition, or even an immense desire for collectables many led by their outlet of choice became a geek.  Since this is a blog dedicated to the aspects of the being 24/7, there were many choices on what to geek on.  Royalty was chosen, and their fashion, their personalities.  A vast historical wealth of them danced through my brain as I watched rebroadcasted images (alas, I was asleep this morning at 1 am Pacific time) across the media.  Yet before we go to a weekend celebratory diet of English Tudors, SCA, Renaissance fairs, courtesans,  and various incarnations of royal to-do, it was decided that what was needed to start of our own three day holiday of historical proportion was a look at the world’s modern fairy tale.

The dress, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen: Getty Images

What is so special about a royal wedding dress?  The pain taken to keep a dress secret for your average bride is taken to the N’th degree for a royal one.  Sketches were done in the want of imagination to be real, for one to be identified as the sketch. Middleton had her ample choice of designers, with knowledge proving correct she would choose a British designer. Yet the question: Royal couture or mainstream?  Would she embrace tradition in honor of the institution to which she was joining or would she be herself?  Alexander McQueen was the  right choice for Catherine. The label has been responsible for looks on public figures that have ranged from elegant to eccentric. Worn by the likes of  Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lady Gaga, and First Lady Michelle Obama, McQueen’s love-or-hate-it style remains one thing that can’t be disputed: young, fresh, and vivid. (to see gallery of Alexander McQueen creations, click here to see MSNBC slide show via MSN) While she is said to be the oldest royal bride, she is still a young woman. Alexander McQueen is a fashion of the same. Sarah Burton, McQueen’s creative director, received the challenge of a lifetime.  How do you attire for the standards of royalty in a religious house while keeping to the tastes of Middleton?   Catherine has come out in photographs as a delicious plate of fashion:  tasteful sheers, form fitting suits, black boots, jewelry, and hats have been commented on by the media over and over.  For the moment of glory, the bride looked stunning in a white gown featuring painstaking handiwork.  Elements that require a moment of review (for the sake of fashion and historical obsession):

– The slim, nipped wasted gown flattered the bride without question. It gave her a woman’s shape while calling attention to her beautiful, heightened posture. I find that the Duchess of Cambridge is always photographed with an upright, almost dancer-like quality. All the better to show off that here are 58 tulle covered buttons running the length of the back of the dress!

– The lace in the dress consisted of  French Chantilly lace and English lace. It included rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock designs. The specific technique used to make the lace is called Carrickmacross, From Carrickmacross, Ireland. It is an Irish technique, and was created the 19th century.

– The people responsible for handling the dress and accessories had to wash their hands every half hour. No wonder that white looks so pristine!

– The tiara worn was a Cartier tiara, and was the something borrowed. It belongs to Queen Elizabeth II, and it came to her as a gift by her mother, Queen Mother Elizabeth, on her 18th birthday. It is referred to as the ‘Halo’ tiara.

It can now be expected that bridal retailers will be stormed by women demanding duplications of the Middleton dress much as they wanted Diana’s thirty years before.  Yet, it can be said that Middleton’s dress is an original confection that brings to mind another royal dress from many years ago:  Grace Kelly, who went on to become Princess of Monaco.  She, too, was an ordinary woman who went on to her own fairy tale ending. Her dress was designed by Helen Rose, a wardrobe designer at MGM (follow the link for interesting fashion and wedding facts) as a gift for the day. 

Just then as now, Americans were fascinated by the idea of an ordinary member of society joining an old tradition.  The similarity in the two gowns portrayed here is in their use of lace and the figure shape.  The use of lace in Sarah Burton’s design follows a trend in recent years that give an instant look of treasured antique.  However, in contrast, the modernity of Catherine’s gown can not be overlooked.  The sheer lace sleeves as opposed to a thicker quality and the v-neck illustrate that enough conservatism was used while no one was to forget that the bride was youthful.

The Geeky Chic wishes the new husband and wife, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, every happiness and joy!  Stay tuned, Geeky Chic readers. While the United Kingdom has its cake, ales, and holiday we will take our own weekend adventure!  From the House of Windsor we will take a journey back in time to other historic families to see the tradition in Kate Middleton has joined.  From our love affairs with emulating bygone times in the SCA  and faires, LARPING, costumes, books and movies.  Let the Queen Weekend commence!

If you weren’t able to enjoy the royal wedding live, fret not!  Feel free to stay, take a seat, and enjoy.

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