Catherine Middleton ended months of speculation when she stepped out of a chauffeured Rolls-Royce at Westminster Abbey wearing a Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen wedding gown. The gown’s hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace bodice and skirt, almost ten foot train and ivory satin bodice which draws on Victorian traditions of corsetry are sure to become instant trends in the bridal market. The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework and the back of the dress is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops. Burton and the McQueen team even made the wedding shoes, which are made of ivory duchesse satin with hand-embroidered lace. Middleton completed her wedding look with a tiara made by Cartier in 1936 and lent to her by The Queen and diamond earrings by Robinson Pelham.
Rumors as to who Middleton would wear for the big day have ranged from Bruce Oldfield, to Issa London designer Daniella Helayel to Sophie Cranston of Libélula.
It was buzzed that Middleton first began to consider McQueen when she took a liking to the off-the-shoulder wedding dress made for Sara Buys, a fashion journalist who married Tom Parker Bowles, the son of the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005. Much of the British fashion community has reportedly urged Middleton to consider Burton and McQueen including Vogue UK editor, Alexandra Shulman, which could have factored into the decision.
The Sunday Times of London has made repeated claims that Burton would be the one making the dress of the century. Burton has long denied the claims telling Vogue UK in March, “I’m not doing it.” McQueen’s CEO Jonathan Akeroyd told the Times, "No, not at all. I am the CEO. I would know if we were doing it." Burton denied the rumors a second time when Cathy Horyn of the New York Times visited the McQueen studio following the fall 2011 show, "No," she said with a quick laugh, "McQueen is not making Kate Middleton’s wedding dress,” Horyn reported her saying.
The rumor mill went into overdrive yesterday, as Burton was spotted entering the Goring Hotel where Middleton was staying with her family. Burton, who hails from Manchester England, joined Alexander McQueen's studio as an intern and rose to become his right-hand working alongside him for twelve years. She was confirmed as the creative director of Alexander McQueen, part of the Gucci Group, in May of last year, following McQueen’s suicide. Burton also designed the red-and-black gown Michelle Obama wore for a state dinner for the Premier of China, Hu Jintao, in Washington, last year, and has also created pieces for Lady Gaga and Salma Hayek.
What does Middleton’s choice of a Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress mean for the label? While Princess Diana chose two young designers, Emanuel, to make her royal wedding dress, the Gucci Group, which owns the McQueen label is in much more of a position to monetize the worldwide publicity this gown is sure to receive. Burton’s star power will also skyrocket following this commission, and many speculate that her name will now rise to the top of the list to fill the vacant post at Dior.