For months now, the fashion world has been abuzz over what Meghan Markle's wedding dress would look like, and Kensington Palace just released the Givenchy wedding dress sketches that helped Markle choose her designer. There were a lot of different directions that the gown could have gone in. Pundits speculated whether it would be as grand as Kate Middleton's, or if it would be more understated and relaxed, like the actress's trademark style. It was common knowledge that the couple wanted a more toned-down, family-oriented wedding rather than an elaborate affair, so many guessed that her dress would reflect that. No intricate beading and shimmering sequins for the future Duchess, wedding experts predicted, but more of a streamlined, timeless look. That, of course, turned out to be right on the nose.
The long sleeve, boat neck couture gown was designed by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, proving wrong those who were certain Markle would choose a British label. She did keep in tradition of choosing a British designer, though. Waight Keller was born in the United Kingdom, and she also happens to be the fashion house’s first female artistic director. "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," Kennsington Palace shared.
Waight Keller spent seven years creating bohemian, flouncy collections in Chloé before switching over to the sharp, streetstyle-savvy Givenchy brand. Markle's dress was a perfect mix of both looks.
If you're a fashion history buff you will know that Hubert de Givenchy, the founder of the label, famously dressed Audrey Hepburn for 40 years, and the archives are full of Hepburn-approved designs. From tea length dresses, to sweeping columns with dragging trains, to boat neck silhouettes, it was full of timeless glamour. When Riccardo Tisci took over for the last 12 years, he flipped that signature style right on its head and went for a more modern, streetstyle-meets-luxury mashup. And you can see both sides of the fashion house in Markle's dress.
On Sunday, the day after the wedding, Kensington Palace tweeted the sketches, writing that both the new Duchess of Sussex and Waight Keller closely collaborated together to bring out "a timeless minimal elegance referencing the codes of the iconic House of Givenchy.”
Fashion lovers were quick to pick up on the vintage references, where Instagram accounts like Diet Prada reached into the archives and found similar silhouettes. For example, Markle's gown looks remarkably similar to Givenchy's boat neck, silk matelassé wedding dress, which was modeled by Hepburn in a 1964 issue of Vogue.
They also designed the veil together, which had thoughtful symbolic touches threaded throughout the lace. "Ms. Waight Keller designed a veil representing the distinctive flora of all 53 Commonwealth countries united in one spectacular floral composition,” Kensington Palace tweeted.
Each flower was unique and was specific to each country, which was hand-embroidered in silk threads and organza, and took hundreds of hours to create. In addition to the bouquet inspired by the Commonwealth countries, Markle chose two more flowers to be included: Wintersweet, which grows in the gardens of Kensington Palace in front of Nottingham Cottage, the couple's new home, and the California Poppy, which is the official state flower of the place where Markle was born.
The gown was simple, elegant, and modern, capturing the mood of the newlyweds' nuptials. With its classic silhouette and sentimental details — from the embroidered flowers that are found outside of her first marital home to wearing Queen Mary's tiara — it's a gown that is sure to be remembered in history for decades to come.