It's the ultimate Meghan Markle Wore a Thing: On Saturday, Meghan Markle arrived for her wedding to Prince Harry at Windsor Castle's St. George's Chapel wearing Givenchy — a French house, yes, but courtesy of British designer Clare Waight Keller. The gown — which no doubt will become a highlight in the history books in its own right — comes complete with an elegant, boatneck neckline, long sleeves and a full, sheer veil secured by Queen Mary's diamond bandeau tiara, on loan from Queen Elizabeth.
The elegant, sophisticated gown provided a contrast to Kate Middleton's exquisite lace Alexander McQueen dress for her 2011 nuptials to Prince William; in its simplicity, Markle's Givenchy look almost had more in common with American royalty Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's iconic Narciso Rodriguez slip dress in her 1996 wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr.
The gown also holds particular significance in that Waight Keller is a Givenchy's very first female artistic director, drawing attention to Markle's long history of feminist activism and advocacy.
According to Kensington Palace, Markle "expressed the wish of having all 53 countries of the Commonwealth with her on her journey through the ceremony," represented on the veil which pictures the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country united in one floral composition.
Previously, it had been widely speculated that Markle would wear London-based design house Ralph & Russo, with bookies placing the couture label in the frontrunner's seat for weeks. Other speculations included, again, Alexander McQueen, Roland Mouret (which London's The Times speculated will be designing her evening reception look), Stewart Parvin and Jenny Packham — as well as Burberry (either Christopher Bailey, in one of his last designs for the heritage house, or Riccardo Tisci, in one of his first), Amanda Wakeley and Emilia Wickstead.
Update, May 19, 12:30 p.m.: Givenchy has released the following statement by Clare Waight Keller:
It is truly an honor to have been given the opportunity to collaborate with Meghan Markle on such a remarkable occasion.
We wanted to create a timeless piece that would emphasize the iconic codes of Givenchy throughout its history, as well as convey modernity through sleek lines and sharp cuts. In contrast, the delicate floral beauty of the veil was a vision Meghan and I shared, a special gesture embracing the commonwealth flora, ascending the circumference of the silk tulle.
As a British designer at a Parisian Haute Couture house, and on behalf of all of us at Givenchy who have been able to experience such an extraordinary process of creativity, I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished and grateful to Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Kensington Palace for allowing us to be part of this historical chapter.
It has been an immensely rewarding experience to get to know Meghan on a personal level, one I will forever carry with me. The House of Givenchy joins me in wishing her and Prince Harry every wish of happiness in their future.
The house also provided the following minute details on Markle's dress, veil and footwear:
The dress epitomizes a timeless minimal elegance referencing the codes of the iconic House of Givenchy and showcasing the expert craftsmanship of its world-renowned Parisian Haute Couture atelier founded in 1952
True to the heritage of the house, the pure lines of the dress are achieved using six meticulously placed seams. The focus of the dress is the graphic open bateau neckline that gracefully frames the shoulders and emphasizes the slender sculpted waist. The lines of the dress extend towards the back where the train flows in soft round folds cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza. The slim three quarter sleeves add a note of refined modernity.
Ms. Markle expressed the wish of having all 53 countries of the Commonwealth with her on her journey through the ceremony. Ms. Waight Keller designed a veil representing the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country united in one spectacular flora composition.
The veil is five meters long and made from silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza.
Each flower was worked flat, in three dimensions to create a unique and delicate design. The workers spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing and washing their hands every thirty minutes to keep the tulle and threads pristine. In addition to the flora of the Commonwealth, Ms. Markle also selected two personal favorites.
Symmetrically placed at the very front of the veil, crops of wheat are delicately embroidered and blend into the flora, to symbolize love and charity.
The Wedding Shoes
The wedding shoes are based on the Givenchy refined pointed SS18 Haute Couture design made of a silk duchess satin.