Months before the royal engagement was announced, we asked some of our favorite wedding gown designers to sketch the dress they would, if they could, design for Kate Middleton.
Looking back at the royal gown designs post-wedding, we see some dress designs are strikingly different from what Kate chose, and others, like the wedding gown sketch from Watters Brides' are almost an exact match.
This ivory silk gazar A-line gown with a square neckline and long sleeves would feature French Alençon lace accents at the wrists, veil, and tiers of the gown. "The simple elegance of the gown reflects her personal style," says the designer. "I used French Alençon lace accents to honor the traditional styles worn by previous royal brides, to whom Kate will undoubtedly be compared."
The designer created another ivory silk gazar A-line gown with a high neckline and sleeves of French Alençon lace as a slightly more conservative option. "The long, lace sleeves are a fabulous accent," says the designer. "It's a regal and timeless gown fit for a modern princess.
"I wanted to create something for Kate that was sophisticated yet modern at the same time," says designer Angel Sanchez who has crafted wedding dresses for celebrities like Sandra Bullock and Eva Longoria. For Kate, he sketched this silk trikado trumpet gown with a mock turtleneck, banded bodice, bias-draped ruffle skirt, and sheer lace sleeves. "The neckline and sleeves add a touch of old world sophistication and glamour, much of what Kate embodies in her day-to-day life," he says. "The trumpet silhouette is very sleek and flattering, and the draped ruffle skirt adds a touch of drama."
The designer, known for her modern interpretations of traditional bridal fashion, would dress Kate in this subtly beaded Alençon lace gown that features cap sleeves, a romantic, ballerina neckline, and a cathedral length train. "The gown is reflective of Kate's young, fresh style with a nod to tradition," says Amsale. "The silhouette is elegant and refined, and the fabric is all about texture—corded lace, soft beading, and detailed threadwork."
British designer Alice Temperley wanted to create a wedding dress for Kate that would accentuate the princess-to-be's figure, so she started with a fitted bodice that is delicately pleated and shaped around the bust. The ruffled layers and embroidery on the skirt add drama and elegance, but give the overall design a demure, ladylike look. "A long train along with an embellished veil are luxurious and add a 'wow' factor on the all important day," says the designer.
Priscilla of Boston
"Kate Middleton is a timeless, classic beauty," says Tracy Uomoleale Epstein, designer for Priscilla of Boston, who created a French Alençon lace gown with an illusion bateau neckline and three-quarter sleeves for the young bride-to-be. "The ultra-feminine, richly-detailed gown truly embraces her youthfulness and elegance, but still makes a 'royal' statement."
In response to the long, slim silhouettes and sometimes-plunging necklines that Kate often favors in her everyday wardrobe, Watters created a Chantilly lace dress with a V-neck and a slim skirt that is extra full in the back (this detail is inspired by the Givenchy gown Audrey Hepburn wears in Sabrina). "We would use a delicate Chantilly lace because it veils bare skin but is not too sheer," says the Watters design team. "We would also bead the lace to give the gown a slight shimmer."
The British wedding dress designer created this elegant dress with a deep V-back, cinched waist, and a full, flowing skirt with an extended train because Kate "is a very elegant young lady who always achieves a balance between dressing for the occasion and looking effortlessly stylish," says the designer. "This design would emphasize her curves while the fullness of the skirt is suitably impressive for a royal wedding."
Designers Lia McNairy and Antonio Gual set out to create a gown that epitomizes romance and femininity. The result: A ballgown of "yards and yards of silk organza" decorated with lace, flowers, silk organza petals, French knots, and tiny crystals. A French lace overlay completes the look. "This gown would be regal, timeless, beyond reproach and the long torso would be brilliant on Kate's figure," say the designers.
Platinum for Priscilla of Boston
Known for his dramatic, envelope-pushing sense of style, the Platinum for Priscilla of Boston designer created a silk crepe gown layered with silk chiffon that features a draped midriff and long illusion stretch sleeves trimmed with jewels. "This is a young, modern silhouette with an edge of elegance that will suit Kate's personality," the designer says.
Rivini creative director Rita Vinieris thinks this trumpet-shaped, re-embroidered French lace gown achieves "the perfect balance of everything reflected in Kate Middleton's personal style," she says. The dress would include silk tulle peeking out at the hem and neckline, a defined waist with a delicate Swarovski crystal belt, and a lace and tulle bolero jacket for versatility. Says Vinieris, "the gown's timeless elements are coupled with modern styling, allowing Kate to shine through natural beauty on her wedding day."
Meant to mirror Kate's modern yet classic sense of style, June and Charlotte Leung of the U.K.-based Augusta Jones design team, would fashion their "Kate" gown using ivory silk duchesse satin for the ruched bodice, outer skirt, and 12-ft paneled train. The train would boast a beautifully detailed hemline that would be based on elements from Prince William's Coat of Arms, and the intricately beaded ivory lace inner skirt would be embellished with thousands of seed pearls and Swarovski crystals.
"Kate is the essence of today's modern princess—she is youthful, fresh and elegant," says Alfred Angelo designer Michael Shettel who believes that Kate will want to stay true to her own style on her wedding day, but also honor classic royal fashion. So he created this silk satin gown with a draped bodice, pleated sleeves, a rhinestone-encrusted waistband, and a grand ballgown skirt that would be embellished with intricate crystal beading and re-embroidered lace.
"This dress is very clean and classic—no fuss, just a great fit for Kate's figure," says Vineyard Collection designer Mark Brower of this duchesse satin strapless fit-to-flare gown with detachable asymmetrical wrap. "The shape of the dress is pure and features no embellishments so it really focuses on the bride. The wrap adds a contemporary and current look while giving some coverage so the bride may be more modest and covered during the ceremony."
Designer Rani Totman loved the idea of a silk satin dress with a dropped waist and fitted bodice for Kate. "It's modern and sexy while still keeping with a traditional bridal look," she says. There are two options for the skirt: one is a silk satin pleated inlay and hand-embroidered overskirt that is scattered with Swarovski crystals. The other is a ruched silk organza skirt that flows into a cathedral train. "Both options would show off Kate's curves and are very luxurious," says the designer.