Few wedding dresses have garnered such long-lasting excitement and influence as Kate Middleton’s. The Alexander McQueen gown, designed by Sarah Burton, remains a reference point for countless brides-to-be who wish to emulate the Duchess’s iconic look. Despite the fact that she and Prince William were married back in 2011 (now a decade ago!), her wedding dress remains timeless and a subject worth diving into.
To help us break down this fashion moment, we spoke with stylist, Micaela Erlanger, who shares everything you need to know about this historic gown, and why it remains a relevant topic today.
Meet the Expert
Micaela Erlanger is a celebrity fashion stylist based in New York City. She has repeatedly been named one of the “Most Powerful Stylists” by The Hollywood Reporter, and has worked with a diverse portfolio of high-profile clients including Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o, and Diane Kruger.
A Deep Dive Into the Dress
On April 29, 2011, Kate Middleton arrived at Westminster Abbey in a black 1977 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, unveiling the Alexander McQueen dress the world had been anxiously waiting to see.
"What I love about the dress is that there is so much more to it than meets the eye—as is typical for a McQueen design," says Erlanger. "First of all, the tailoring of this gown was impeccable, and it flattered her figure so beautifully. Also, what you'll notice when you look closer is the lace detailing.”
According to a report by WWD, the lace was handmade at London’s Royal School of Needlework. It was then appliquéd with individual flowers that were hand-cut, and later hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle.
The dress also featured a bodice that was padded on the hips, paying homage to the tradition of Victorian corsetry, and had a dramatic eight-foot train that gracefully swept behind Middleton as she walked.
When the designer of Middleton's dress was finally revealed on the big day, fans of both Middleton and McQueen found it to be a perfect match. “Kate has had a relationship with the house for many years wearing Sarah Burton's designs, so I think it was a very organic and authentic choice,” Erlanger says. She also notes that Middleton's choice to work with a British fashion house, and her support of a female designer, was extremely significant.
Though it was Middleton’s dress that made jaws drop, her accessories were just as striking. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a Cartier tiara borrowed from, none other than, Queen Elizabeth, and her Robinson Pelham earrings were a gift from her parents.
Erlanger also highlights that while the pieces of jewelry were striking on their own, it was the personal value behind her tiara and earrings that made them stand out the most. "These sort of very personal elements were woven into every aspect of her look and I think that’s what makes [it] so special."
How to Get Kate's Bridal Look
Erlanger suggests that brides who want to recreate the essence of Middleton's look should incorporate three key design elements from the iconic McQueen gown: long sleeves, lace, and a ball gown silhouette. “Those to me are the three easiest things [brides] can look for when trying to emulate this look," says Erlanger.
If you look to great moments on the red carpet, it is always those classic—sometimes even simple—silhouettes that remain, to this day, as some of the greats.
She also recommends paying close attention to the fit of the dress. “Kate’s dress worked because the silhouette was proportional to her. When you are going for a ball gown look, I think it's really important that fit is considered. You never want the dress to be wearing you. You want to be wearing the dress. That is a tried-and-true statement that I can attest to," says the stylist.
Last but not least, regardless of the style of the dress, we believe it's important to find a look that will stand the test the time. Middleton wore her McQueen wedding gown over ten years ago and, yet, the world still loves to dissect every detail of her look. The reason for this? Its timeless and classic design. Erlanger notes, "If you look to great moments, it is always those classic—sometimes even simple—silhouettes that remain, to this day, as some of the greats.” We couldn't agree more!