When Meghan Markle (pardon, the Duchess of Sussex) stepped out of the car at the Royal Wedding today, the world watched as Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy followed behind her. Laying the train flat with a fleet of pageboys, the first female artistic director of the French fashion house watched what will be its most historical design yet float up the steps of St. George's Chapel. And, just like that: the rest of us, those fashion and royal family fans alike, can sleep better at night knowing who designed the latest royal bridal gown.
For months on end, the fashion industry has speculated who would design Markle's custom Givenchy haute couture dress for the big day. But, really, we should have seen this one coming: the British designer was appointed to the helm of Givenchy in March 2017, following more than a decade of success by Riccardo Tisci, which makes her current tenure more contemporary than solidified. (Her reviving of the house's couture arm just last season, too — along with a fair share of industry buzz — would consequentially put her name in the running.) And Kate Middleton's wedding gown was designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, who'd only taken over the British label following its founder's death just a year before the Royal Wedding in 2011.
The minimal dress itself doesn't so much mirror Middleton's long-sleeve lace gown as much as it perfectly complements it. Its silk and organza veil featured floral tributes to all 53 countries of the Commonwealth, a request made by Markle herself, and was over 16 feet in length. And, on loan from the Queen, Markle wore Queen Mary's Diamond Bandeau tiara, which anchored the lingering veil. At the last Royal Wedding, Middleton wore the the Halo tiara, which was given to the Queen Mother by her husband prior to his coronation and made by Cartier. The sleek white gown featured a bateau neckline and little to no embroidery, save for meticulous lace finishing at its edges.
Via official statement, Waight Keller reflected on the monumental moment, wished the royal couple well, and elaborated on her design process for the dress: "We wanted to create a timeless piece that would emphasize the iconic codes of Givenchy throughout its history, as well as convey modernity through sleek lines and sharp cuts. In contrast, the delicate floral beauty of the veil was a vision Meghan and I shared, a special gesture embracing the Commonwealth flora, ascending the circumference of the silk tulle."
Before assuming her role at Givenchy, Waight Keller began her design career at Calvin Klein and Gucci, followed by her acclaimed stint at Chloé. Her design for the Royal Wedding marks a feat for Givenchy and a coup for contemporary female designers. It will go down as the dress of the year.