Prince William and Kate Middleton have exchanged vows at Westminster Abbey, with much of the world watching. Thousands have gathered in London to line the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of the British royal family and, yes, the bride's dress. Middleton's gown, which features lace sleeves and a a two-meter train, was designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. The couple announcement their engagement last November; the NY Times calls the wedding "an interlude of romance in a time of austerity and a moment that will shape the future of the British monarchy."
Here's the official statement about Middleton's dress:
Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing. Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterises Alexander McQueen’s work. Miss Middleton worked closely with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress.
The dress epitomises timeless British craftsmanship by drawing together talented and skilled workmanship from across the United Kingdom. The dress design pays tribute to the Arts and Crafts tradition, which advocated truth to materials and traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often Romantic styles of decoration. Ms Burton’s design draws on this heritage, additionally giving the cut and the intricate embellishment a distinctive, contemporary and feminine character.
The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace. The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s. Individual flowers have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design, which incorporates the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock.
Hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace has been used throughout the bodice and skirt, and has been used for the underskirt trim. With laces coming from different sources, much care was taken to ensure that each flower was the same colour. The whole process was overseen and put together by hand by Ms Burton and her team.
The dress is made with ivory and white satin gazar. The skirt echoes an opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats. The train measures two metres 70 centimetres. The ivory satin bodice, which is narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips, draws on the Victorian tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen’s designs. The back is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops. The underskirt is made of silk tulle trimmed with Cluny lace.
It is also reminiscent of Grace Kelly's wedding gown, when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco. Middleton is also wearing a tiara, a 1936 Cartier "halo" piece on loan from Queen Elizabeth—It "was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King. The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen) by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday." The Prince of Wales is wearing a military uniform: "Royal Navy Number One Dress (Ceremonial)."
The couple wrote their own prayer—"In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer."— and in the Bishop of London's sermon, he said, "In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future."
Queen Elizabeth conferred new titles for the couple: William will also be known as the Duke of Cambridge while Catherine will be, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge. They will not take the titles of Prince and Princess until Prince William's father, Prince Charles, becomes King.