The great Markle wedding dress mystery
Which designer will she wear?
The search is off and Meghan Markle has reportedly appointed her wedding dress designer and chosen the dress. While it’s unlikely that the name will be revealed until Markle arrives at St George’s Chapel in Windsor on May 19, there is a select group of contenders in the running to create the biggest fashion commission of 2018.
These are the designers who are probably in the running:
Erdem: The shoo-inErdem has to have been number one on Markle’s studios-to-visit list. She chose a tropical printed maxi-dress from Erdem Moralioglu’s pre-Fall 2017 collection when she and Harry attended the wedding of Tom Inskip and Laura Hughes-Young in Jamaica last year. She also told Vanity Fair that Erdem is “a designer I’ve been wearing for years” when she wore one of his dresses for her interview with the title.The Canadian-Turkish designer is known for his ladylike designs which take their inspiration from art, literature and history, lending them a nostalgic look but always with a modern, pretty spin.His most recent collection, shown at London Fashion Week in February, was inspired by Adele Astaire, the showgirl elder sister of Fred Astaire who gave up performing to marry Lord Charles Cavendish, the son of the ninth Duke of Devonshire – an American star sacrificing her stage career for her upper-class British love. Sound familiar?Moralioglu’s name has reached almost household levels of recognition recently: he counts a host of A-listers including Claire Foy, Emma Stone and Gwyneth Paltrow among his discerning fans, as well as the Duchess of Cambridge and Pippa Middleton, who wore one of his dresses to a wedding in Sweden last year. Moralioglu also created a spin-off collection which was a sell-out hit for affordable fashion giant H&M in November.Wedding-wise, Moralioglu has previously kept that aspect of his business to a minimum, designing dresses only for close friends. “Erdem manages to stand at the forefront of London fashion with unwaivering charm, but combined with his innate (and very, very successful) understanding of north American taste and social settings,” says Emma Elwick Bates, a Vogue contributing editor whose own wedding dress was designed by Moralioglu. “I cannot think of anyone better placed to design the dress. And I speak from experience because eight years ago in January, he made me my favourite dress ever – intricate in detail, yet poised for fun.”
Misha Nonoo: The discreet friendDespite being a power player on the New York fashion scene, Nonoo’s name is relatively under the radar, but she is a close friend of the couple (she is separated from Harry’s friend Alexander Gilkes). It was one of her designs that Markle chose, rather playfully, to wear for her first official public appearence with Harry at the Invictus Games. The “husband shirt” is part of Nonoo’s Easy 8 collection which aims to create a versatile day to evening wardrobe.
She would no doubt be a discreet, trusted choice in what is bound to be a feverish wedding build-up, but does Nonoo have the experience to create a royal wedding dress? Harry and Meghan are rumoured to be planning a more low-key ceremony than usual but Nonoo is more used to designing sleek tailoring and separates. She did, however, design her own wedding dress for her marriage to Gilkes in Venice in 2012, collaborating with Oscar de la Renta’s atelier on the embroidery.
Oscar de la Renta: The American optionMarkle may wish to incorporate her US roots by choosing an American label to design her dress. Going non-British would no doubt be a controversial choice but it’s one she could probably back up. Oscar de la Renta established the label as a byword for classic glamour and it is now helmed by young design duo Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia who have given it a sleek new kick, recruiting a fresh generation of fans to shake off the Park Avenue princess reputation of yore. The De la Renta studio has been behind some fabulous celebrity bridal gowns in recent years, including those of Amal Clooney, Allison Williams and Kate Bosworth. It’s a choice which would be at once conventional and rather shocking.
Jenny Packham: The safe BritBritish designer Jenny Packham, who specialises in intricate bridal gowns, will no doubt be making a persuasive pitch for the Meghan-Markle-wedding-dress project.Packham’s gowns are usually silhouette-skimming, feature a beaded bodice or laced sleeves, and often incorporate a touch of sparkle fit for a princess.
The designer, who has provided dazzling red-carpet looks for everyone from Kate Winslet to Angelina Jolie and Kate Hudson, as well as the dress Kim Sears wore to wed tennis player husband Andy Murray in 2015, is more than qualified for the job.A favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge, Packham's credentials are also rooted in the heaps of experience she has dressing royalty, providing both on and off-duty looks for the Duchess, the most recent being the pale-blue embellished gown she wore to the Royal Variety Show last year.
Emilia Wickstead: The new society favouriteLondon-based designer Emilia Wickstead may only have launched her bridal line last year, but the brand is already royally approved, with the Duchess of Cambridge wearing Wickstead’s designs in the past – the modest silhouettes and feminine details make for supremely elegant dresses.
And as for her bridal credentials? At one of the most stylish society weddings of 2016, Lady Charlotte Wellesley wore a stunning custom gown by the New Zealand designer, though the fact that very few woman have been married in Wickstead to date will no doubt appeal to Markle, who will be keen to make a choice that is both appropriate and individual.
Antonio Berardi: The Italian outsiderAntonio “Tony” Berardi is the bookies’ outsider. The London-based, Sicilian-born designer known for his impeccable tailoring and form-fitting dresses was assistant to John Galliano while studying at Central Saint Martins. Berardi’s hat has been thrown in the ring as Markle has donned the designer’s dresses before, and his runway shows often feature a finale bridal look. A long shot, but not impossible.
Alexander McQueen: The copy-Kate option
British brand Alexander McQueen is known for its intricate yet edgy gowns and consistently dresses high-profile stars for the red carpet, including Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain.
While these alone are enough for us to question whether the brand could be The Chosen One to design Markle’s much-anticipated wedding gown, its strongest credentials are the royal seal of approval from Markle’s sister-in-law-to-be, the Duchess of Cambridge.Sarah Burton, the British designer at the helm of Alexander McQueen, famously created the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress in 2011. The classic lace long-sleeved number inspired a ton of replicas and single-handedly propelled lace sleeves back into the bridal spotlight.
Bookies recently stopped taking bets after a flurry of punters backed McQueen, but if Markle wants to carve out her way of doing regal, then this would not be the label to plump for.
Ralph & Russo: The extravagant show-stopperWhile the brand is busy with a notoriously long client list that runs into the thousands, it does have the biggest atelier in the world with over 300 employees so is well equipped to take on a royal design.
If you’re going to marry a prince, it’s understandable you’d want to go all out, and Ralph & Russo are renowned for their frothy feminine gowns in pastel shades and chic embellishment which are definitely fit for a princess.Australian duo and real-life couple, Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, are renowned for their extravagant couture designs and have recently launched a ready-to-wear collection.Roland Mouret: The understated minimalistFrench designer Mouret is arguably most famous for his sleek figure-skimming Galaxy dress, which was worn by everyone from Victoria Beckham and Naomi Watts, to Halle Berry and Cameron Diaz in the early Noughties, but his classic bridal designs are also one of his signatures.
The simple, unfussy silhouettes are very flattering, and are ideal for the minimalist, as the Duchess of Cambridge, who is a fan of the brand, well knows. Mouret is already on Meghan's radar; she once attended a dinner in his honour in LA.
Carolina Hererra: The Venezuelan curve ballThe fact that Markle was shot for the cover of Vanity Fair earlier this year wearing a strapless tulle gown by Carolina Herrera, and looked wonderful in the process, means we shouldn’t rule out the Venezuelan-born designer as the maker of her wedding dress.
Renowned for her unique confections, Herrera, who is responsible for creating myriad high-profile wedding dresses, including the simple, sleek strapless dress Renee Zellweger wore for her beach-based nuptials in 2005, the gorgeous skirt and jumper combo Olivia Palermo wore to wed husband Johannes Huebl in 2014, and the flattering off-the-shoulder gown Emily Rossum wore for her New York wedding earlier this year, means she's more than up to the job.Hererra’s designs are modern, elegant and interesting. And, as evidenced by Peter Lindbergh’s Vanity Fair cover, would be an excellent fit for Markle. Although the designer announced she would be stepping down as creative director of her label earlier this year, she could still have been working on Markle’s dress as a final hurrah.
Vera Wang: The seasoned proIf drama is what Markle is after, then one of Vera Wang’s elaborate designs would be an excellent choice. We need only remind ourselves of the show-stopping Vera Wang creation that Sarah Jessica Parker’s onscreen character Carrie was pictured in in the Sex And The City movie to know that Wang’s designs are a perfect fit for a duchess-to-be.
Other gowns that Wang can take credit for include that worn by Victoria Beckham when she married David in 1999, the extravagant tulle dress that Kim Kardashian wore to wed husband-for-90-days Kris Humphreys, and the more understated strapless design Victoria’s Secret model Lily Aldridge wore to marry Kings of Leon front man Caleb Followill. Markle would be in star-studded company to say the least.
Burberry: The surprise entry
British brand Burberry might not be renowned for its bridalwear, nor famed for dressing high-profile brides, but that doesn’t mean we should rule the fashion house out as potential candidate.Burberry’s former creative director, Christopher Bailey, who was at the helm of the company for 17 years, was responsible for an innumerate number of romantic designs that any bride would kill to wear. Tulle, silk and lace creations abound: the brand is brimming with options.
What’s more, it would constitute a diplomatic choice if American native Markle were to opt for a brand as quintessentially British as Burberry, not to mention give Bailey’s replacement, Riccardo Tisci, a kick-start to trump all others.
© The Daily Telegraph