Here comes the bride… and sets the next fashion trend
How one wedding dress can set bridal fashion trends for future generations
You don’t have to be a self-proclaimed royal watcher or even a royal fan club member to be captivated by the elegance and splendor of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal wedding. This globally televised and much-awaited event will influence us all. In fact, it already has.
It’s all about the dress. It’s all about how one dress can not only set fashion trends, but how it can singlehandedly influence the global fashion design industry and literally, from ‘head to toe,’ bring strong economic value to center stage.
What royal brides are donning down the aisle today was kick-started by Princess Diana back in 1981, followed by Kate in 2011 and now, the newly Duchess of Sussex’s fabulous frock from the weekend’s nuptials. Not only did these three grand dames influence the fashion choices of millions of brides-to-be, but none were more empowered than designers from the high street to 5th Avenue and everywhere in between. The reason is clear. What could be more timeless than a princess?
What Diana, Kate and Meghan wore down the aisle changed the way large design houses and smaller couturiers looked at and customized their signature bridal gowns, not to mention the more affordable copycat designs that quickly followed suit. All three of these royal wedding dresses have, in their own right, reflected and set the trends of our day, not only for blushing brides, but for the designers that pour their heart and soul into every yard of taffeta and silk. These dresses will not only change the face of bridal design for the next several decades, but too, each and every evening or cocktail dress that will beckon to pay homage to one of the royal brides’ dresses.
From the moment Kate stepped out of her carriage, to the moment her sister Pippa lifted that unforgettably long (long!) train, the next decade of blushing brides were already primed and ready to go, lining up to be fitted, inch by inch, for the exact same dress. Kate’s became the most admired wedding dress in the world and had an instant impact on every wedding gown designer on the planet.
The Kate Effect
After Kate’s marriage to William, for example, bridal shops were trading in the famed sweetheart neckline, larger and fuller bodices and the once popular strapless gown for romantic lace, longer, more tailored sleeves and long, long trains. Replicas of Kate’s dress quickly sold at affordable prices at Nordstrom and other large retailers, while Alexander McQueen’s business increased by almost 30% in 2011. Some called it “the Kate effect,” as it single-handedly brought in over $200 million to Britain’s economy in 2015. Not to mention, every other piece of clothing and accessory worn by the Duchess of Cambridge ever since has seen the same effect.
Fast-forward a mere seven years and Meghan Markle’s exquisite Givenchy gown splashed the tabloids and international press just seconds after she emerged from the grand Rolls Royce outside of St. George’s Chapel. For many staunch observers, especially British fashionistas, Markle’s choice of the French luxury fashion house, Givenchy, was quite shocking. According to tradition, a royal bride had always been dressed by a Brit when walking down the aisle. Minds were put at ease, however, when we learned that Markle’s dress was made by the British-born designer, Claire Weight Keller, albeit, under the auspices of Givenchy.
Markle’s dress was described online as classic, regal and reminiscent of the likes of Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and an entire pageant of royals simply too long to list in this piece. But how does Markle’s dress compare to other notable princesses like Kate and Diana? Rumor has it that Markle’s dress was a mere $100,000 or so, but does that take the ‘glow’ off of Kate’s custom-designed Alexander McQueen that wowed us at nearly four times the price? And what of our beloved Princess Diana? Her silk taffeta gown by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, was reported to have cost $115,000.
While these enormous sums may seem like small change for Buckingham Palace, back in 1981, Diana’s dress created an entire era of brides in puffy sleeves, so much so, that we are still seeing puffy (and even puffier), more dramatic sleeves down the aisle today. Even though the Emanuel design was thoroughly excessive with layers of silk taffeta and covered with more than 10,000 pearls, here we are in 2018, still talking about it…
Inspire a Legacy
Diana’s wedding dress was reveled in and worshipped by the fashion industry all over the world. Within days, copycat styles became available in London’s high street shops that reportedly sold out the moment they opened their doors. On a somewhat sobering note, back in 1981, glitz and glamor were created the “old fashioned” way, in magazines, newspapers and on television, long before the birth of social media. So, not only did Diana’s memorable dress set a new bridal fashion trend, it became and remained a sensation, all the way up to Kate and William’s nuptials.
From as far back as Queen Victoria to Diana, Kate and now Meghan, royal weddings have shaped bridal fashions. Markle’s wedding dress most certainly did not disappoint and if you haven’t already chosen your new frock inspired by the now-iconic royal wedding gown, it’s quite likely that you will – and soon. Although social media has called the dress “one of the most elegant, minimal bridal designs in royal history,” Markle’s dress will inevitably set bridal trends, yes, for generations.
You can bet that designers are sitting in their ateliers at this very minute, creating “the Meghan dress” for their exclusive clientele and there are larger design houses that are churning out more affordable versions. Both are guaranteed to sell like hotcakes. According to Elle.com, designers are going to “mimic everything about her [Megan Markle’s] swoon-worthy gown: the boatneck-slash-off-shoulder neckline, the clean silhouette, the simple, sheath fit.”
This is the legacy of the mighty royal bride. The long-standing fashion trend is not initiated at the foot of the church, it starts long before the procession and far away from the altar. This trend, unlike any other, echoes the era in which it was born, embracing the spirit of the times. It’s so powerful, so potent, that even if you’re not marrying Prince Harry, but just the man of your dreams, any one of these royally-inspired wedding dresses, is guaranteed to make you… a princess for a day.