05 March 2011

Style Speculation: Catherine Middleton's Bridal Gown

It's time to play a game! The Royal Bridal Gown Guessing Game, to be exact. Place your bets now: what will Kate wear on her big day? The winner gets...uh, eternal sartorial glory. GAME ON:

Question #1: Who will the designer be?
First of all, I think it's right smart that Kate's keeping this under wraps. None of that paparazzi-digging-through-your-trash business the Emanuels had to put up with back in 1981. Besides, why would you want your designer all concerned about press? Focus on the dress! (Selfish, but true.)

The top two names so far have been Daniella Helayel of Issa and Bruce Oldfield. Issa's an obvious favorite and Oldfield's an experienced bridal designer with ties to Diana. I hope it's neither of them, personally. Worth a thought: though Issa's considered a British label, Helayel herself isn't British, and the expectation will be for a purely British creation. Oldfield's become the front runner, but he's been giving so many interviews. Don't you think the clamps would be firmly shut on the mouth of the actual designer?

Two other names often tossed around: Phillipa Lepley, a couture bridal designer, and Jenny Packham, both a bridal and ready-to-wear designer with a long celebrity client roster. Lepley would make a lovely dress, to be sure, but would it be epic? (And isn't that what we're looking for, something along the Diana/Grace lines of memorableness?) Packham's dresses are gorgeous and girly and intricate, and I think her vision's strong enough to bring Kate to a new style.

Two other names I hope she took a look at: Amanda Wakeley and Emilia Wickstead. Wakeley's aesthetic is a clean and modern line that fits with what we've seen of Kate's style so far. She's an experienced bridal designer, and she's known among royal circles: she dressed the Countess of Wessex for both of Crown Princess Victoria's wedding events last year, and Tatiana Blatnik wore a stunning green gown from Wakeley's range last June. I think she'd do something different, not just a trumped-up version of typical off-the-rack gown style. Wickstead, on the other hand, doesn't run a regular bridal line, which is part of the reason I'd like to see her take on The Gown. She's got a prim yet feminine style - like a modern take on the kind of elegance we associate with Princess Grace or Audrey Hepburn.

Lastly, I have to place a bet for the total unknown. I'd love it if she took a totally new face and created the Next British Fashion Star. In fact, my number 1 request for her Princess Style on the whole is that she use all this attention and fury and put it to good use getting some brand new fashion talent off the ground. And I'd love to see her do that with all things British, but also show some love to Australian, Canadian, and other Commonwealth country designers.
Question #2: What will the gown look like?
Truthfully, I'm having a hard time picturing Kate's gown. We just haven't seen her in evening wear that often, and what we have seen has been fairly one-note. Mainly, these three appearances:
So I guess I'm really just hoping we don't see some version of this thing done in white with a veil and train tacked on. (The pink and charcoal numbers are both Issa. Blue is BCBG Max Azria.)

What do I think we'll see? A v-neck, that seems to be a favorite, and nothing too fussy. (She doesn't strike me as a meringue-ish kind of girl.) I think a coat dress over a simpler gown is a possibility given the weather and that the day lends itself to having an evening look later on. I simply can't picture a big ballgown skirt on Kate, so I'll place my bets on a slim silhouette from the front that widens out to a train at the back. And speaking of the train, I'll guess something in the 15 foot range for length. Also, personally, I prefer a simpler gown paired with a more intricate veil, so I'll hope for that.

Okay, your turn: who will design The Dress, and what will it look like? This is high-stakes stuff here, kids.