Around the world, 1,999,999,999 fellow commoners and I watched as Kate Middleton became Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, by marrying Prince William, her college sweetheart. From 1:00am to 5:30am Pacific Coast Time, I sat transfixed in front of the high definition television wearing my black flannel pajamas with white hearts, sipping from a bottle of champagne and waiting for “The Dress” to make its debut. There was so much speculation and mystery about who the designer was going to be and how it would compare to Princess Diana’s “The Dress,” that when the moment came at 3am, Operation Meringue (the code name given to keep the secret) was somewhat anticlimactic.
Alexander McQueen’s creative director Sarah Burton was the chosen designer. The dress was immediately compared to what Grace Kelly wore when she married her Prince in 1956. McQueen, the late British designer, was known for using high contrast in his work, combining
dark and light and soft and hard in exaggerated silhouettes. It is a skill Ms. Burton is said to have inherited, and has continued in the label’s designs since McQueen’s death last year. However, Catherine’s dress had little resemblance to McQueen’s use of exaggeration, whose work is currently being shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The exhibit includes signature designs such as the
Bumster Trouser, the Kimono Jacket and the Origami Frock Coat, as well as pieces inspired by the 1860s, 1880s, 1890s, and 1950s that he
crafted into contemporary designs, transmitting romance with an edge. McQueen used feathers, fringed seams and even crocodile shoulder
treatments in his expressions of art.
“The Dress” was beautiful, with its deep V neckline, lace bodice and full skirt, and was flattering to Catherine’s classic look. One could say
that Burton kept true to her client’s style without making a big fashion statement. The new Duchess is movie star gorgeous and extremely
photogenic, so it would be hard for her to look bad in anything. Aside from the lace treatment, I am afraid that there will be very little fashion
influence from “the Dress” of this century.
What I was completely blown away with were the hats. A Royal requirement, everyone attending the wedding had something spectacular, and in a few cases comical, on their heads except the Prime Minister’s wife, Samantha Cameron. British millinery designers must have been working overtime to create, and not duplicate, for this worldwide event. The overwhelming choice was Philip Treacy, who designed hats for Victoria and David Beckham (he never put his on), Sara Phillips, Princess Mathilde of Belgium, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece and my favorite, Tara Palmer-Tomlinson, who wore vibrant blue head to toe. The two daughters of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew had one of those “what were they thinking?” moments with their ensembles. Princess Eugenia wore a two-piece blue ensemble from edgy British designer Vivienne Westwood, and Princess Beatrice chose a blushcolored Valentino coat. Even though their fascinators were designed by Philip Treacy, they both had the appearance of a fairy tale gone bad. Sorry girls!!
It seemed as if the fascinator was the choice of women under thirty who filed into Westminster Abbey. These whimsical head coverings have made a comeback in the early 21st century, thanks to Kate Middleton being photographed at Royal functions in a range of distinctive styles.
A fascinator is a decorative headband or headpiece that attaches to the hair by a comb, headband or clip. Modern fascinators are commonly made with feathers, tulle, flowers or beads. A fascinator may be worn instead of a hat to occasions where hats are traditionally worn—such as weddings—or as an evening accessory, when it may be called a cocktail hat. I think they have become popular with younger women because there isn’t the all-day or all-night commitment of wearing a hat, thus eliminating the danger of hat hair.
Since the wedding, everyone is trying to find their English roots. I predict that the British Invasion is returning with all eyes on William and Catherine, and the innovative designers from across the pond. Long live England and Fashion!