With the royal wedding now just days away, the question of who will design Meghan Markle’s dress is reaching fever pitch.
Of course, nothing will be known for sure until Meghan arrives at St George’s chapel on May 19th. But in the mean time, here is everything we know so far…
Who will be designing the dress?
The London-based brand Ralph & Russo have steamed into the lead as the bookie’sfavourite, but Burberry, Erdem, Stella McCartney and Roland Mouret are still among the contenders.
Ralph & Russo is headed up by Australian design duo and real life couple, Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, who launched the label in 2010 and have since become known for their elaborate, frothy and immensely glamorous couture gowns, having dressed everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Angelina Jolie for the red carpet.
The label, which is based in London’s Mayfair, is the only British name to be recognised as a couture house by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and is the biggest atelier in the world with a team of 400. However, Ralph & Russo does fly slightly under-the-radar in comparison to, say, Alexander McQueen or Burberry, rendering it a less obvious and thus perhaps more appealing choice for Markle.
And if unpredictability ticks one box, then discretion marks another. Ralph, who heads up the label as creative director, and Russo, who takes care of the business side of things, both ‘politely declined’ to comment when asked about their involvement in the royal wedding.
The label has been considered a potential candidate for the role from the beginning, due to both its credentials as the only British fashion house to show at Paris Couture Week and the fact that the soon-to-be Duchess wore a Ralph & Russo design for her official engagement photos, which were released in December, illustrating an early bond with the brand.
How much will Meghan’s wedding dress cost?
If Ralph & Russo have indeed been enlisted to create Markle’s wedding dress, the gown won’t come cheap, particularly if the dress the Duchess-to-be wore for her engagement photos is anything to go by. The Ralph & Russo gown that Markle wore for the shoot, which had a sheer, embellished bodice and an elaborate tiered tulle skirt, is thought to have cost £56,000. The figure being floated for Markle’s hand stitched wedding dress is just shy of double that, at £100,000 – a hefty sum that it’s said the royal family are covering.
No matter who the designer is, a bespoke creation befitting of a royal bride is bound to cost tens of thousands. Perhaps the biggest fashion statement Meghan could make would be to pick something from a high street bridal collection, but that seems highly unlikely.
What style will the wedding dress be?
One thing’s for sure, the dress will be intricate. Ralph & Russo don’t do things by halves. The label is responsible for designing wedding gowns for some of the most affluent brides across the globe, so they are more than up to the job. When debuted on the couture catwalk, it often requires multiple people to help the model turn, due to the heavy embellishment and myraid accompanying features. The closing look at Ralph & Russo’s most recent couture show, for example, featured a strapless gown with an enormous circumference and a labyrinth veil fit for a fairy tale princess.
That said, the duo prioritisewearbility, and have spoken out in the past about avoiding ‘arrogant luxury’ at all costs. Taking this into consideration, as well at Markle’s sleek, minimal personal style, we wouldn’t be surprised if she were to go down a more minimal – but no less luxurious – route. Ralph & Russo could turn their hand toa silhouette-skimming designs but other favourites like Roland Mouret also specialise in simplicity over decoration.
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What have previous royals worn to get married?
Even if we assume that Ralph & Russo is her chosen label, predicting what Markle’s wedding dress will actually look like is near impossible, particularly since history would suggest that there is no uniform when it comes to dressing a royal bride. The Duchess of Cambridge, for example, walked down the aisle at Westminster Abbey in 2011 in an exquisite Alexander McQueen gown, complete with lace sleeves, a fitted bodice and dramatic train, designed for her by the brand’s esteemed creative director Sarah Burton. Its classic silhouette was compared to that worn by Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956.
Princess Diana, on the other hand, married Prince Charles in 1981 at St Paul’s Cathedral wearing a voluminous gown complete with a 25 foot taffeta train, designed by up-and-coming husband-and-wife David and Elizabeth Emanuel -whose first couture client had been Bianca Jagger.
While it’s unlikely that there will be any parallels to draw between Markle’s dress and those of past royal brides (except, perhaps, a train), if she has chosen Ralph & Russo to create it, could her choice of a married design duo be a subtle nod to the late Princess of Wales?