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PARIS — Designers around the world tuned into the watch the royal wedding, and discover Catherine Middleton’s dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.


This story first appeared in the May 2, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Many cited likeness to bridal gowns worn by Queen Elizabeth and Grace Kelly, and remarked on its traditional allure.

Broadcasting live on France 2 television, Karl Lagerfeld said: “She is very elegant. The dress is classic and goes very well in the Westminster decor. It almost reminds me of (Queen) Elizabeth’s wedding, the royal weddings in the Fifties. The proportion of the train is good. The lace is very pretty. I like the veil a lot.”


Here’s what other designers had to say:


Carolina Herrera: “The dress was absolutely perfect for her. The important thing was that she looked as though she felt very comfortable and moved very well in it. The dress didn’t move. I loved the long sleeves, the lace, the short veil with the little tiara and her hair. If I have to rate her from one to 10, I give her an 11. It was beyond.”


Catherine Malandrino: “I thought it was great that she chose an iconic British name. I also like that they used the Royal School of Needlework for the lace. I felt the dress was simple, effortless and and regal.”


Vera Wang: “This was great for Sarah Burton, and whether it was intentional or accidental, everything worked. It is amazing and wonderful for someone who does not usually do wedding dresses to show such restraint. The dress was cut beautifully, in a subdued way. I found the fitted lace bodice and the fairly large skirt, without tiers or technical draping, just right — a modern version of a tradition that will never be outdated. I would have preferred a closed neckline, however. To me, the veil, often an afterthought, is as important as the dress. Kate’s was perfect — not decorated, trimmed or gathered. And because the blusher had no volume, no wrinkles were over the face. It added mystery and allowed the bride to arrive covered and leave with her face framed. I did not think she would go fashion-forward but rather to send a message far beyond fashion: [William and Kate] want to be taken seriously; they know they will become the King and Queen of England and are up to the job of embracing everything that comes with the monarchy. And with that, naturally, there had to be some pomp and circumstance — but it was all with great dignity and discipline, reflecting the British culture. Yet it was so romantic and seemed to reflect their love for, and future with, one another.”


Rebecca Taylor: “Kate’s dress was beautiful, demure and youthful. Her veil was soft and pretty, but I would have liked to see more volume. The heirloom tiara added the perfect amount of sparkle fit for a modern day princess. Kate kept it traditional with her Cartier 1936 tiara as her ‘something old’ and Diana’s blue sapphire ring as her ‘something blue.’ She is lovely and he is a great prince, I wish them both good luck!”


Monique Lhuillier: “I was beyond thrilled when I heard Sarah Burton had done the dress. She has really picked up the pieces and has resurged the house. The selection of the designer also shows she takes risks and that’s terrific. The best accessory was the sparkle in her eyes. You could see the love between them in how they looked at eachother. Despite having two billion watching. It was still their moment.”


Prabal Gurung: “I thought it was pretty and appropriate. A high-profile wedding like this is not the place for making a crazy fashion moment. It sounds like an oxymoron but it was a personal moment in a very public place. The dress clearly said she’s a modern girl and of this generation. It was not McQueen at its theatrical sense but McQueen in its quiet but beautiful sense. I loved the bustle and how her silk tulle veil was moving softly in the wind.”


Jason Wu: “I thought Catherine’s dress looked stunning. The details were very well done and I loved the emphasis on craftsmanship and the use of British talent. Her choice to pay tribute to Alexander McQueen was both touching and exciting.”


Isaac Mizrahi: “I loved the dress. I like plain things a lot right now so this was a winner. It moved beautifully and really flattered her figure. She looked gorgeous.”


Diane von Furstenberg: “The dress was beautiful. I think she is irresistible, she is so beautiful. I am happy it was McQueen. It was absolutely the right thing to do. They made [the dress] simple, so it wasn’t costumey but a beautiful evening gown. I was happy for Sarah, happy for the Met, and happy for McQueen.


Lela Rose: “She looked beautiful and is beautiful, and the dress had nothing to fault. But I was a little disappointed that it was so traditional in the choice of lace, fabric, style and shape. That lace has been so done and used. It didn’t look modern to me. I expected more from Sarah Burton but the again it wasn’t Sarah Burton’s wedding dress. She really had to follow protocol and do what Kate wanted and I am sure the queen had input too.”


Agnès b.: “Last night before nodding off to sleep, different wedding dresses went through my head and I settled on the one worn by the Princess Grace of Monaco, thinking that it could have been updated with perhaps a v-neck! And to my delight I find today that Catherine, the charming Duchess of Cambridge, has turned my nocturnal musings into the essence of elegance thanks to Sarah Burton. I found all of the guests beautifully attired, and as for the hats! It is surely only in England that they are so diverse and are worn so well.”


Chris Benz: “I did not know what to expect. She came out so fresh and elegant! I loved the length of the train and the fact that there was nothing over-the-top about the whole look. Her hair down was perfect, not too fuzzy. I loved the whole spirit of it — kept it from looking too old-fashioned. The deep V felt really special, kind of sexy bride. And I loved William, the bright red was charming and youthful in spirit.”


Carolina Amato: “Of course I would have loved to see Kate wearing gloves on her wedding day but I wasn’t disappointed to see her choice of attire. I loved the exquisite lace on the bodice and sleeves and the neckline cut in a perfect V. It was a classic, lovely choice; it fit her beautifully and her happiness emanated from her entire body. She seemed very comfortable but poised — a perfect vision of loveliness.”


Amy Smilovic, Tibi: “Kate looked supremely elegant and in keeping with her personal style that she has portrayed over the years. I think her confidence in Sarah Burton’s design showed – and your wedding day is the day more than ever that you want to feel absolutely sure of your style. For me personally, I would have loved to have had the skirt exaggerated in the true McQueen style, but I get why the dress absolutely worked for Kate and she looked stunning and regal.”


Nicole Miller: “The fit was amazing. It looked like it was second skin the way the lace layed so well. I was really impressed. It’s funny in Sarah Burton’s fall show for McQueen, she had five or six dresses at the end. I remember thinking, ‘What’s that about?’ The wedding must have been in the back of her mind.”


Eddie Borgo: “The lace was perfect, and I especially loved the Cartier tiara — and to learn of its history.”


Kara Ross: “Kate’s simple Victorian-style earrings and vintage Cartier tiara were the perfect complement to her elegant McQueen gown. As an avid vintage collector, I had particular appreciation for the ‘halo’ tiara – I felt it was a special way to honor both the Queen and tradition.”


Tory Burch: “Kate looked stunning. Choosing Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen reflects Kate’s modern aesthetic and style, but the handmade lace details and craftsmanship are a great nod to British tradition. The lace, the clean lines of the dress, Queen Elizabeth’s tiara — every detail was stunning.”


Donna Karan: “The dress was extremely elegant. For me, it wasn’t so much about the dress though, it was all about her. She was the most beautiful bride in the world.”


Francisco Costa: “Kate’s dress had a classic elegance with a modern edge. The superb detailing really characterized Sarah’s expert hand.”


Cynthia Rowley: “I love it: McQueen for the Queen! The dress has really beautiful intricacies, but its silhouette is classic and restrained, and highlights Kate’s beauty rather than overshadowing it. With all of the anticipation, she was so smart to go with something so understated. I love the details that were attended to as well — she’s even holding Lily-of-the-Valley — a May flower.”

Valentino: “I loved the was very simple and young even if an hint of Grace Kelly’s dress spoke of 1950s! I loved the flounce on the back of the skirt and the little decoration all around the short veil. I loved the choice of the tiara: simple, pretty, very right for the dress and for her was used almost as an hairpiece to keep the hair and the veil, not as a heavy decoration. Compared to the famous Diana’s dress, Diana’s was a dress of a fairytale princess.. still a dress everybody remembers.. Kate’s one is a very pretty, modern dress that will be copied everywhere but lacks that fairytale element. Today most of the new princesses are young, modern, non-royal women who have clear ideas, independence from stiff protocol.. they want to be themselves and not anymore a symbol of the crown.”


Christian Lacroix: “I like the dress very much, simpler than expected: A combination just in between 1956 Grace Kelly and 1947 Queen Elizabeth dress. I love the modest veil with the Queen Mother’s Thirties scroll tiara and balanced volume of the whole gown. She’s radiant; She never was so beautiful. And Prince William’s red Irish uniform is gorgeous.”

Hubert de Givenchy: “The dress is very simple and very nice. The veil is a little flat, but because she has such a lovely face, she can afford to wear it this way. She is very pretty.” About choosing a dress from McQueen, whose founder committed suicide last year, De Givenchy said: “It’s a lovely thought, a nice tribute.”


Oscar de la Renta: “She looked absolutely ravishing. She looked like a bride should look and she handled herself tremendously. And they look like a much loving couple. I am happy to see fresh blood coming into the family. It was a very traditional, beautiful dress which it needed to be for that kind of wedding. Most of all she devastated with her charm. Listen, she will wear anything and will look ravishing.”


Peter Copping of Nina Ricci: “Very much in a royal tradition, reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth’s — and a little bit Grace Kelly. She looks happy, radiant and natural.”


Donatella Versace: “Kate’s dress was beautiful. She looked very regal.”

Viktor & Rolf:
“Kate’s dress was simply elegant. Her hair down was a beautiful and natural touch, and the tiara was stunning. She looked as at-ease as humanly possible and was radiant. Our compliments.”

Christian Cota: “I thought the fit of the bodice and the lace overlay were very well executed. Although I thought the lace could have looked a little more delicate and more see through. I was not a big fan of the veil — it could have been more dramatic and could have had more texture. I loved the hair and makeup — she looked beautiful and timeless. I did think the dress overall was a little to safe, I wish it had been a little more dramatic with a longer train. The shape and silhouette was very flattering on her; I just missed a bit of drama, especially because it was the wedding of the decade.”


J. Crew’s head of bridal Tom Mora: “I liked the way the pleats flounced in the back of the dress almost as though they were flying. That three-dimensional bustle was reminiscent of the envol collection Christian Dior had done in 1948. I also liked the matte color of the dress. That could become a big trend for bridal. The slight hip shape that was built into the dress exaggerated her narrow waist nicely.”


Elie Saab: “It was a very elegant dress, subtly refined and discreet, in keeping with her style. I would have liked it even more with a little extra volume and a longer train.”

Ann-Sofie Johansson, head of design at H&M: “Kate Middleton’s dress is beautiful. She looks absolutely stunning today at the royal wedding. The lace together with the long sleeves really showed the craftsmanship and hours of work that has gone into creating a dress like this. The dress suits Kate Middleton perfectly and Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen surely lived up to my expectations. I also think that the lovely flower bouquet will set the trend for many brides to be.”

Mark Badgley of Badgley Mischka, speaking for himself and James Mischka: “James and I have goose bumps! The dress is perfection; and will stand the test of time. It is a classic Grace Kelly look. The skirt is divine. We love the hair down and the veil. The proportion is beautiful.”


Narciso Rodriguez: “Catherine looked simply beautiful. Her timeless McQueen gown was exquisite, modern and elegant. It will inspire many brides.”


Antonio Marras, Kenzo: “McQueen was a brilliant choice. The choice of the label and the style of the dress was a very clever mix between edgy fashion and tradition — all in a very British way. You could see references to Grace Kelly or Queen Elizabeth’s dresses, but in a simpler, more modern way. I loved her hair down. It looked perfectly natural and noble. Truly royal.”


Alexis Mabille: “Kate’s dress is a classic, very elegant and pure…. It reminds me of Princess Grace’s wedding dress in a modern version with deeper cleavage, the draping at the back in reference to McQueen.”


Dennis Basso: “I love that dress. It epitimiizes the modern bride: covered, but still sexy with its tight bodice. The lace overlay and the covered-up look will certainly set a trend.”


Ralph Rucci of Chado Ralph Rucci, who noted the dropped torso and panel construction of the skirt was especiallty beautiful: “I love it. I’m so glad she went with Sarah Burton, who is brilliant. The dress encompasses all the necessities of the protocal a future Queen should represent. It rings in a youthfulness that reflects the future monarchy.”


Reed Krakoff: “I thought the dress was very modern. It bridged the gap between modern and youthful, and was respectful to the position she is in. It didn’t look to traditional or expected though. I particularly liked the neckline. It was more youthful than I expected. The fact that the bodice was fitted and formfitting was great, because she is a beautiful young woman and it accentuated that.”

Rachel Zoe: “Mc Queen was the perfect choice for Kate. It showed loyalty to a UK designer and also her love of fashion without being trendy. I am a huge fan of Sarah Burton; she is doing a brilliant job at the helm of McQueen and the dress was flawless.”


Ippolita: “What can one say other than ‘tradition must prevail.’ Demure pearls and formal pins for the older generations and simple tiara and small diamond drop earrings, inspired by Kate’s new coat of arms, for the Princess of Cambridge. The simplicity was somewhat refreshing, but hey, it’s a party! Where are the jewels?”


Molly Yestadt, Yestadt Millinery: “Kate’s veil was elegant and very clean, simply draped over the head. A style like this really highlights the face and the tiara read as quite modern considering its heritage.”

Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman: “I applaud the choice of Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, given McQueen’s legacy as perhaps the best British designer in history and especially his mutual obsession with the Royals and Commonwealth heritage as themes. As a house of McQueen design goes, the gown was quite understated. It felt significant that Kate “wore” the gown instead of the gown wearing her. She wasn’t overwhelmed by the dress, or the occasion. Altogether, the look and her demeanor were pure grace. The relative refined simplicity of the gown and veil allowed her happiness and natural beauty to emerge as the most important elements.”


Stephanie Solomon, vice president of fashion direction, Bloomingdale’s: “I was glued to the television since 5:30 this morning. It was such a big moment for fashion. What Kate is doing is bringing back elegance and good taste into a young market that’s been oversaturated with grunge and disco and military and hip hop. With Kate, there’s intelligence, poise and wit, which now seem more relevant that those other buzz words. A young who has never dressed up before is going to start to dress up. The wedding will have a big impact on the McQueen business, and also on all designers who offer quality. But you know Kate has been a big deal for awhile. It’s not just happened with the wedding. The world has been watching her shop in high heels and dresses, not jeans and T-shirts.”


Miriam Lahage, eBay’s European general manager of fashion: “By having the future Queen of England wear McQueen, it helps to legitimize the house under new leadership. Literally, it’s a changing of the guard that will propel the business forward and affirms the legacy of Lee’s vision and aesthetic. Kate Middleton’s history making turn in Alexander McQueen was a stunning mix of traditional fabrics and craftsmanship paired with a distinctly modern silhouette–elevated but understandable. Lee would be proud.”


Nicole Fischelis, group vice president and fashion director at Macy’s Inc: ” I thought it was an aristocratic dress, she was a ravishing , beautiful. It was a classy flawless dress. She wore it well. Clothes don’t wear her. She is very in control. She wears classic clothes with a twist. People have been watching Sarah Burton for awhile. She is a great talent. But I believe the wedding could bring new energy to the house of Alexander McQueen.”


Fanya Chandler, national stylist director for Nordstrom: “Princess Catherine looked stunning in Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton. The gorgeous, feminine silhouette with modern details and chic styling suited the princess perfectly. We expect that many brides will take note on how to keep their wedding look elegant and timeless.”


Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor, co-founders of Juicy Couture: “Of course, we were watching it….together. Sara Burton/House of McQueen was the perfect choice. Kate was flawless…A true fairytale and you know how we love fairytales.”


Nanette Lepore: “I thought she looked beautiful. I liked her lacy long sleeves, but I didn’t like the veil. It wasn’t pretty. It was too limp. It looked pretty over her face, but it was too flat looking on her head. I was wishing it would be wispy and floaty. She looked very restrained which is good for this time of restraint we are in. I wish it would have been the patchwork dress I designed for her.”


Shaun Kearney, Creative Director of Cynthia Steffe: “The dress is very simple and very elegant, exactly what I thought she should wear. I like the modern yet vintage feel, and I love the hand needlework on the lace sleeves and the elegant folds on the bustle. Gorgeous and very Grace Kelly in feel. Bravo Sarah Burton! I feel like Kate definitely had strong opinions about what she wanted to wear, and that absolutely came through – total understated glamour!”


Michelle Smith, Milly: “Fresh and youthfully elegant, Kate’s dress struck a perfect balance between modernity and tradition. The lace overlay and fitted bodice brought to mind Grace Kelly’s wedding dress, updated with Kate’s signature plunging v-neckline and McQueen bustle at the back waist. Kate’s sister Pippa was also lovely, in her discreetly sexy, bias-cut column dress with deep cowl neckline and cap sleeves. Prince Harry, watch out!”

Cynthia Steffe: “I thought she looked stunning. It was such a gorgeous combination of very sexy, with the plunging neckline, and feminine, but still feeling traditional enough to be very appropriate. The silhouette of the two of them leaving the cathedral was just storybook. The juliette veil with the pearl tiara was so tasteful and gorgeous _ totally stunning!

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