Understated, elegant and perfectly judged: an haute-couture dream

The dress

Even before Kate Middleton – now the Duchess of Cambridge – stepped out in her bridal gown, designed by Sarah Burton, the creative director of Alexander McQueen, it was dubbed "the dress of the century". It was certainly among the most perfectly judged.

Featuring an ivory silk Chantilly lace-appliquéd bodice, sweeping silk gazar skirts, a high lace collar and long, narrow, lace sleeves, and with a train measuring a relatively restrained eight feet long, it was, at first sight, the height of understatement, whispering of Austerity Britain and, quite touchingly, Queen Elizabeth II's own Norman Hartnell-designed wedding garb. Make no mistake, however, this was the finest haute couture.

Clarence House said that Middleton chose the house of McQueen "for the beauty of its craftsmanship" and that, above all else, was there in spades. The lace – which also finished the bride's slippers – came courtesy of London's Royal School of Needlework. The four emblems of the United Kingdom – the rose, the thistle, the daffodil and the shamrock – were all incorporated. Embellishing flowers were cut from more English and French lace and the dress itself was constructed to resemble an opening bloom.

The seamstresses responsible for creating it washed their hands every 30 minutes, by all accounts, and changed their needles on a three-hourly basis to ensure they remained sharp.

"It was such an incredible honour to be asked," said Burton, who was filmed smoothing the bride's train as she left for Westminster Abbey and again upon her arrival. "The dress represents the best of British craftsmanship and I hope that by marrying traditional fabrics and lacework with a modern structure and design, we have created a beautiful dress for Catherine on her wedding day."

That the bride-to-be herself had input into the design in question was clear – anyone expecting anything even remotely radical or overpowering would have been disappointed. Instead, this was a sensitive collaboration between client and couturier and, although touches of excellence were everywhere to be seen, they never came at the expense of ease of movement and elegance, achieved by discreet draping and folding and underpinnings that were quite obviously as complex as they were light.

The bride's fine silk tulle veil was lovely in its simplicity; it was held in place by the Queen's diamond "halo" tiara, made in 1936 by Cartier. The shield-shaped bouquet comprised lily-of-the-valley, hyacinth, sweet William and myrtle, the herb of love – picked at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, where Queen Victoria herself planted a sprig from her own wedding posy.

Manchester-born Burton, 36, has had quite a year. Only months after Alexander McQueen himself died, she succeeded him as the artistic force behind his label. News first broke that she might be responsible for the design of Middleton's dress in March, but was repeatedly denied.

"It's been the experience of a lifetime working with Catherine Middleton to create her wedding dress," Burton said. "I have enjoyed every minute of it."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Life and Style
An Internet security expert has warned that voice recognition technology needs to be more secure
techExperts warn hackers could control our homes or spend our money simply by speaking
Extras
indybest
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style