The Wedding Dress, Bridesmaids’ Dresses and Page Boys' Uniforms

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The Wedding Dress: Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy

Ms. Meghan Markle’s wedding dress has been designed by the acclaimed British designer, Clare Waight Keller. Ms. Waight Keller last year became the first female Artistic Director at the historic French fashion house Givenchy.

After meeting Ms. Waight Keller in early 2018, Ms. Markle chose to work with her for her timeless and elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring, and relaxed demeanour. Ms. Markle also wanted to highlight the success of a leading British talent who has now served as the creative head of three globally influential fashion houses – Pringle of Scotland, Chloé, and now Givenchy.

Ms. Markle and Ms. Waight Keller worked closely together on the design. The dress epitomises a timeless minimal elegance referencing the codes of the iconic House of Givenchy and showcasing the expert craftsmanship of its world-renowned Parisian couture atelier founded in 1952.

The Design

True to the heritage of the house, the pure lines of the dress are achieved using six meticulously placed seams. The focus of the dress is the graphic open bateau neckline that gracefully frames the shoulders and emphasises the slender sculpted waist. The lines of the dress extend towards the back where the train flows in soft round folds cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza. The slim three-quarter sleeves add a note of refined modernity.

The Fabric

Following extensive research by Ms. Waight Keller in fabric mills throughout Europe, an exclusive double bonded silk cady was developed. Perfect for the round sculptural look required, the silk cady has a soft matt lustre whilst the bonding process and pure white colour chosen by Ms. Markle and Ms. Waight Keller bring a fresh modernity to the dress.

The Veil

Ms. Markle expressed the wish of having all 53 countries of the Commonwealth with her on her journey through the ceremony. Ms. Waight Keller designed a veil representing the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country united in one spectacular floral composition.

The Commonwealth family of nations – of which Her Majesty The Queen is Head –will be a central part of Prince Harry’s and Ms. Markle’s official work following   His Royal Highness’s appointment as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. Ms. Markle wanted to express her gratitude for the opportunity to support the work of the Commonwealth by incorporating references to its members into the design of her wedding dress.

Significant time was spent researching the flora of each Commonwealth country and much care was taken by Ms. Waight Keller to ensure that every flower is unique.

The veil is five meters long and made from silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza.

Each flower was worked flat, in three dimensions to create a unique and delicate design. The workers spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing and washing their hands every thirty minutes to keep the tulle and threads pristine.

In addition to the flora of the Commonwealth, Ms. Markle also selected two personal favourites:

Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), which grows in the grounds of Kensington Palace in front of Nottingham Cottage, and the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) the State flower from Ms. Markle’s place of birth, California.

Symmetrically placed at the very front of the veil, crops of wheat are delicately embroidered and blend into the flora, to symbolise love and charity.

A selection of flora distinctive from every member state of the Commonwealth is listed below:

AFRICA:

  • Botswana - Ear of Sorghum and Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
  • Cameroon - Red Stinkwood (Prunus africana)
  • Gambia - White Variety Orchid
  • Ghana - Caladium (Caladium)
  • Kenya - The Tropical Orchid
  • Lesotho - Spiral Aloe (Aloe polyphylla)
  • Malawi - Lotus (Nymphea lotus)
  • Mauritius - Trochetia Boutoniana
  • Mozambique - Maroon Bell Bean (Markhamia zanzibarica)
  • Namibia - Welwitschia (Welwitschia mirabilis)
  • Nigeria - Yellow Trumpet (Costus spectabilis)
  • Rwanda - Torch Lily (Kniphofia uvaria)
  • Seychelles - Tropicbird orchid (Angraecum eburnum)
  • Sierra Leone - Scadoxus (Scadoxus cinnabarinus)
  • South Africa - Protea (Protea cynaroides)
  • Swaziland - Fire Heath (Erica cerinthoides)
  • Uganda - Desert rose (Adenium obesum)
  • United Republic of Tanzania - African violet (Saintpaulia)
  • Zambia - Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea)

 

ASIA:

  • Bangladesh - White Water Lily ( Sada shapla)
  • Brunei Darussalam - Simpor (Dillenia suffruticosa)
  • India - Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifers gaertn)
  • Malaysia - Bunga Raya Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis)
  • Pakistan - Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)
  • Singapore - Vanda miss Joaquim Orchid (Miss Joaquim)
  • Sri Lanka - Blue Water Lily (Nymphaea nouchali)

 

CARIBBEAN & AMERICAS:

  • Antigua and Barbuda - Agave (Agave karatto)
  • Bahamas - Yellow Elder (Tecoma stans)
  • Barbados - The pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
  • Belize - The Black Orchid (Encyclia cochleata)
  • Canada - Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)
  • Dominica - Carib Wood (Sabinea carinalis)
  • Grenada - Bougainvillea (Nyctaginaceae)
  • Guyana - Victoria Regia Water Lily (Victoria amazonica)
  • Jamaica - Lignum Vitae (Guiacum officinale)
  • Saint Lucia - The rose and the marguerite
  • St Kitts and Nevis - Poinciana (Delonix regia )
  • St Vincent & the Grenadines - Soufriere Tree (Spachea perforatais)
  • Trinidad & Tobago - Chaconia (Warszewiczia coccinea)

 

EUROPE:

  • Cyprus - Cyclamen Cyprium (Cyclamen cyprium)
  • Malta - Maltese centaury (Cheirolophus crassifolius

 

UNITED KINGDOM:

  • England - Rose
  • Wales - Daffodil (Narcissus)
  • Northern Ireland - Flax flower
  • Scotland - Thistle

 

PACIFIC:

  • Australia - Golden wattles (Acacia pycnantha)
  • Fiji - Tagimaucia (Medinilla waterhousei)
  • Kiribati - Bidens Kiribatiensis
  • Nauru - Calophyllum
  • New Zealand - Kowhai (Sophora microphylla)
  • Papua - Sepik Blue Orchid (Dendrobium lasianthera)
  • Samoa - Teuila (Alpinia purpurata)
  • Solomon Islands - Hibiscus (Hibiscus)
  • Tonga - Heilala (Garcinia sessilis)
  • Tuvalu - Plumeria (Plumeria frangipans)
  • Vanuatu - Anthurium (Anthurium)

 

Jewellery

The veil is held in place by Queen Mary's diamond bandeau tiara, lent to Ms. Markle by The Queen. The diamond bandeau is English and was made in 1932, with the centre brooch dating from 1893.

The bandeau, which is made of diamonds and platinum, is formed as a flexible band of eleven sections, pierced with interlaced ovals and pavé set with large and small brilliant diamonds.  The centre is set with a detachable brooch of ten brilliant diamonds.

The diamond bandeau was made for Queen Mary and specifically designed to accommodate the centre brooch. This brooch was given as a present to the then Princess Mary in 1893 by the County of Lincoln on her marriage to Prince George, Duke of York.  The bandeau and the brooch were bequeathed by Queen Mary to The Queen in 1953.

The Bride is wearing earrings and bracelet made by Cartier.

Wedding Shoes

The wedding shoes are based on a Givenchy refined pointed couture design made of a silk duchess satin.

The Bride’s Bouquet

Prince Harry handpicked several flowers yesterday from their private garden at Kensington Palace to add to the bespoke bridal bouquet designed by florist Philippa Craddock.

The spring blooms include Forget-Me-Nots which were Diana, Princess of Wales’ favourite flower. The couple specifically chose them to be included in Ms. Markle’s bouquet to honour the memory of the late Princess on this special day.

The Bride's bouquet is a petite design, pulled together in a gentle, ethereal, relaxed style with delicate blooms also including scented sweet peas, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine and astrantia, and sprigs of myrtle, all bound with a naturally dyed, raw silk ribbon.

The myrtle sprigs are from stems planted at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, by Queen Victoria in 1845, and from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s wedding bouquet of 1947. 

The tradition of carrying myrtle begun after Queen Victoria was given a nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha in Germany.  In the same year, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House as a family retreat, and a sprig from the posy was planted against the terrace walls, where it continues to thrive today. 

The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, when she married in 1858.

Bridal Hair and Make-Up

Ms. Markle's hair was styled by Serge Normant, with make-up by long-time friend and make-up artist Daniel Martin.

Bridesmaids’ Dresses

Clare Waight Keller designed the six young Bridesmaids’ dresses in the Givenchy Haute Couture Atelier in Paris.

The dresses were designed to have the same timeless purity as Ms. Markle's dress.

Each dress is sculpted in Ivory silk Radzimir, and is high-waisted with short puff sleeves and hand finished with a double silk ribbon detail tied at the back in a bow. The Bridesmaids’ dresses include pockets and pleated skirts to create a relaxed and luxurious silhouette.

The Bridesmaids are wearing white leather Aquazurra shoes; each pair is monogrammed with the Bridesmaids initials, and the wedding date. The shoes are a gift from Ms. Markle to the young ladies as a keepsake of the special day.

Bridesmaids’ Flowers

The bridesmaids each have flower crowns selected by Prince Harry and Ms. Markle, which have been designed by florist Philippa Craddock.

The Bridesmaids' flowers replicate the flowers used in the bridal bouquet.

Page Boys' Uniforms

The four Pages are wearing a miniature version of the Blues and Royals frockcoat. The uniform draws its insignia from the Blues and Royals, which is an old Regiment of The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Both are also wearing Blues and Royals frockcoats for the Wedding Day.

The frockcoats are made from blue doeskin, single-breasted in style with a stand-up collar and completed with figured braiding of Regimental pattern. The figured braiding has been scaled down for the Pages, as otherwise it would have gone above their shoulders.

As a special memento, each Page has their initials embroidered in gold on their shoulder straps. The Pages are not wearing hats or white waist belts for practical reasons. 

Their leg garments are made from blue/black wool barathea with three-quarter scarlet stripes fastened with a leather strap.

The uniforms were cut and made by the tailors Dege & Skinner in Savile Row.

Mother of the Bride's Dress

Ms. Ragland wears a custom dress and day coat designed by creative directors of Oscar de la Renta, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim.

Ms. Ragland's shoes are designed by Edgardo Osorio of Aquazurra, and her custom hat was designed exclusively for her by British milliner Stephen Jones, O.B.E., whom Ms. Markle has worked closely with since moving to the UK.

Stephen Jones was also commissioned by Ms. Markle to create custom hats for several of her closest friends.

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