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WWDStyle issue 03/07/2011

The latest designer to be dragged through the royal rumor mill is Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen, who’s set to show her fall collection for the house on Tuesday in Paris. The Sunday Times of London ran a front-page story declaring Burton to be Kate Middleton’s mystery wedding dress designer, and dedicated pages two and three to profiles of the two women.

The story quoted an unnamed fashion source saying Burton and Middleton were collaborating on the dress for Middleton’s wedding to Prince William on April 29, and added that McQueen’s chief executive officer, Jonathan Akeroyd, had reportedly let slip to a colleague that the house had been commissioned to design the dress.

This story first appeared in the March 7, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Times story carried Burton and Akeroyd’s denials, and on Sunday a McQueen spokeswoman told WWD that Burton was not designing the royal wedding dress. A spokesman for Clarence House declined to comment. “Over the past few months, we’ve heard a number of names, and our policy since the beginning has been not to comment on speculation. We will have to wait and see on the big day,” he said.

Since Prince William and Middleton revealed their engagement in November, speculation has centered on designers including Bruce Oldfield, who dressed Princess Diana in the Eighties and who is the go-to wedding dress designer for British society girls. Since the start, Oldfield has declined to comment on whether he’s making the dress. A spokesman for the house of Catherine Walker, who specializes in wedding gowns and was also a favorite of the late Princess Diana, has also declined to comment.

And while the choice of Burton would not be unusual — the late Lee Alexander McQueen and his team made their share of wedding gowns over the years, including Burton’s own — the choice would be a radical one for Middleton, who is famous for her conservative style. On a recent official visit to her alma mater, the University of St. Andrews, Middleton wore a red skirt suit from the Italian company Luisa Spagnoli, an all-time favorite of grandmas from Como to Calabria.

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