I was up at 5 am, flipping between the information-packed coverage on BBC America and the gossip-filled coverage on E! What a hoot! You got all the history, protocol, and traditions on BBC, and all the secrets and dirt on E! After scanning a dozen channels covering the wedding, I felt the BBC’s fashion coverage was the most thorough. They really did their homework, and it showed.
I’ve been talking to my friends and sister about all the details because, alas, my daughters aren’t interested. When I was still discussing the wedding on May 1st, my 13 year old said, “Mom it was two days ago. Get over it already.” Wow! Talk about a short attention span!
One of the things my sister and I discussed was how we were up at 3am to watch Charles and Diana’s wedding back in 1981. We didn’t own a VCR, there were only 3 channels to choose from (the 3 networks), and they all signed off at midnight. You got static until 6am. So to have live coverage from London for the 11 am service at St. Paul’s meant people at TV stations all over the U.S. pre-dawn. It was a big deal. So different from the 500+ cable channels and 24/7 coverage we have today.
Anyway, here is my take on the Royal Wedding Fashion. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments below.
The Wedding Gown
I felt Kate’s dress was lovely and sweet and appropriate but – dare I say it? – unremarkable. When rumors starting swirling in January that the House of Alexander McQueen might be making the dress, I got my hopes up. They do offer traditional silhouettes, but often the fabrics and styling makes it edgy and over-the-top. I was expecting something really dramatic. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it.
There were lots of comparisons to Grace Kelly’s dress, but other than white and with a train, I didn’t see it. In fact, I told my sister that the dress was pretty but looked like something you could get at David’s Bridal. Sure enough, there’s a page on the David’s Bridal website that says, “Look at all the gowns we have that look just like Princess Catherine’s!” One of the closest retails for $129.00 – a far cry from the reported $80,000 the Middleton’s paid for Kate’s dress. It obviously doesn’t have the same amount of beadwork or detail or Alexander McQueen label, but when a retailer doesn’t even have to knock off a gown because they already have something similar in stock, that’s says something – and it’s not good.
The Bridesmaid’s Dress
Pippa Middleton started the day as Kate’s unmarried sister and ended it nicknamed “Her Royal Hotness.” Like the wedding gown, the bridesmaid’s dress was designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, but unlike the wedding gown, the sleek silhouette got tongues a-wagging and fingers a-typing. Pippa apparently had SO MANY male admirers all over the world tweeting about how good she looked, they nearly toppled Twitter. Someone put up a Facebook page paying homage to Pippa’s rear end, and it got 54,000 fans overnight. The reason was simple: clean lines, form fitting, sexy but classy. “She’s a knockout you could take home to mother,” said a male friend. Girl next door meets slightly provocative. A time-honored recipe for snagging a great guy.
Not surprisingly, Pippa’s dress is expected to be knocked off more than Kate’s. In fact my sister said, “I envisioned Kate in a dress more like Pippa’s, with her hair up and a longer train. Simple but dramatic.” Interesting take.
Of all the dresses worn by the women in both families, I liked the Queen’s the best. It was bright, festive, and appropriate. She looked like a proud Grandmother. Carole Middleton’s was also very nice, as was Sophie, Countess of Wessex’s. While I liked the ombre colors and embroidery detail worn by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, I think the big hat and light colors made her look heavier than she is. I didn’t care for the flowery motifs worn by Princess Anne or Princess Eugenie.
People are talking more about the hats and fascinators than they are the dresses. Milliner-to-the-Royals Philip Treacy reportedly created 36 hats for the event, including those worn by the Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Eugenie, Princess Michael of Kent, Queen Anna-Marie of Greece, Princess Mathilde of Belgium, and Victoria Beckham. Perhaps the most talked-about was the taupe fascinator worn by Princess Beatrice, which many compared to a pretzel. Comedienne Joan Rivers had a different take: “Why would anybody wear an IUD on her head?” she quipped.
Some of the prettiest toppers included those worn by Zara Phillips, Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, the Countess of Wessex, and the Queen.
High end footwear was also in abundance, with Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik being wedding guest favorites. Victoria Beckham wore Christian Louboutin’s 7-inch platform stilettos – tricky for most women in their third trimester.
The Faux Pas
There were two glaring fashion faux pas that sent tongues a-wagging:
- Samantha Cameron, wife of Prime Minister David Cameron, did not wear a hat to the wedding, even though it was specified in the wedding invitation.
- David Beckham wore his Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) emblem on the right side of his chest instead of the left. Someone must have said something to him because he switched it later.
But it was interesting to see how both things were reported. Mrs. Cameron was slammed time and again, yet Becks got off easy with comments like, “It’s on the wrong side, but he’s so handsome, who cares?” It’s called the Attractiveness Factor in Human Interaction, and it means the better-looking you are, the more you can get away with. Sad, but true.
The Etiquette Booklet
Rumor has it that because so many of the wedding guests were school friends of William and Kate’s “commoners,” they were sent a 22 page etiquette booklet with their invitations to tell them how to behave appropriately in royal company. The most important edict: arrive at your scheduled time and don’t be late. It’s how they were able to transport and usher 1,900 well-heeled guests into Westminster Abbey in just under two hours so the ceremony could start on time. Talk about orchestration!
The Middleton Millions
Prince William may have fallen in love with a commoner, but thankfully her parents have an uncommonly high income, thanks to their party favor business. It’s what allowed Kate access to the best schools at the highest social strata, and put her in the prince’s sphere. While the British taxpayers are footing the biggest bills for the wedding, the Middletons also had plenty of expenses. One report puts their wedding weekend outlay in the $500,000 range, from paying for Kate’s dress ($80,000) and earrings ($15,000) to renting out the Goring Hotel for two nights (at $100,000 per night). Who knew there was such good money in party favors?
All in all, I thought it was a beautiful affair befitting a future king and queen. Loved the cars, loved the carriages, loved the little bridesmaid covering her ears when the church bells rang and the crowds cheered. I think all the men looked dashing in their uniforms. I would have liked more drama in Kate’s dress, less in Beatrice’s fascinator.
But in the end it was what the Brits seem to do best in all the world: a well-planned, well-timed, well-staged theatrical extravaganza suitable for royalty…and fascinating to everyone else.
That’s my take. What’s yours? Sound off!