Meghan Markle’s royal wedding dress has been designed by the acclaimed British designer, Clare Waight Keller. Waight Keller last year became the first female Artistic Director at the historic French fashion house Givenchy.
After meeting Waight Keller in early 2018, Meghan chose to work with her for her timeless and elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring, and relaxed demeanour. Meghan also wanted to highlight the success of a leading British talent who has now served as the creative head of three globally influential fashion houses – Pringle of Scotland, Chloé, and now Givenchy.
Meghan and Waight Keller worked closely together on the design. The dress epitomises a timeless minimal elegance referencing the codes of the iconic House of Givenchy and showcasing the expert craftsmanship of its world-renowned Parisian couture atelier founded in 1952.
True to the heritage of the house, the pure lines of the dress are achieved using six meticulously placed seams. The focus of the dress is the graphic open bateau neckline that gracefully frames the shoulders and emphasises the slender sculpted waist. The lines of the dress extend towards the back where the train flows in soft round folds cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza. The slim three-quarter sleeves add a note of refined modernity.
Following extensive research by Waight Keller in fabric mills throughout Europe, an exclusive double bonded silk cady was developed. Perfect for the round sculptural look required, the silk cady has a soft matt lustre whilst the bonding process and pure white colour chosen by Meghan and Waight Keller bring a fresh modernity to the dress.
The duchess expressed the wish of having all 53 countries of the Commonwealth with her on her journey through the royal wedding ceremony. Waight Keller designed a veil representing the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country united in one spectacular floral composition.
The Commonwealth family of nations will be a central part of Prince Harry’s and Meghan’s official royal work following his appointment as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. Meghan wanted to express her gratitude for the opportunity to support the work of the Commonwealth by incorporating references to its members into the design of her wedding dress.
Significant time was spent researching the flora of each Commonwealth country and much care was taken by Waight Keller to ensure that every flower is unique.
The veil is five meters long and made from silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza.
Each flower was worked flat, in three dimensions to create a unique and delicate design. The workers spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing and washing their hands every thirty minutes to keep the tulle and threads pristine.
In addition to the flora of the Commonwealth, Meghan also selected two personal favourites:
Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), which grows in the grounds of Kensington Palace in front of Nottingham Cottage, and the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) the State flower from Markle’s place of birth, California.
Symmetrically placed at the very front of the veil, crops of wheat are delicately embroidered and blend into the flora, to symbolise love and charity.
A selection of flora distinctive from every member state of the Commonwealth is listed below:
Botswana – Ear of Sorghum and Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
Cameroon – Red Stinkwood (Prunus africana)
Gambia – White Variety Orchid
Ghana – Caladium (Caladium)
Kenya – The Tropical Orchid
Lesotho – Spiral Aloe (Aloe polyphylla)
Malawi – Lotus (Nymphea lotus)
Mauritius – Trochetia Boutoniana
Mozambique – Maroon Bell Bean (Markhamia zanzibarica)
Namibia – Welwitschia (Welwitschia mirabilis)
Nigeria – Yellow Trumpet (Costus spectabilis)
Rwanda – Torch Lily (Kniphofia uvaria)
Seychelles – Tropicbird orchid (Angraecum eburnum)
Sierra Leone – Scadoxus (Scadoxus cinnabarinus)
South Africa – Protea (Protea cynaroides)
Swaziland – Fire Heath (Erica cerinthoides)
Uganda – Desert rose (Adenium obesum)
United Republic of Tanzania – African violet (Saintpaulia)
Zambia – Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea)
Bangladesh – White Water Lily ( Sada shapla)
Brunei Darussalam – Simpor (Dillenia suffruticosa)
India – Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifers gaertn)
Malaysia – Bunga Raya Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis)
Pakistan – Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)
Singapore – Vanda miss Joaquim Orchid (Miss Joaquim)
Sri Lanka – Blue Water Lily (Nymphaea nouchali)
CARIBBEAN & AMERICAS:
Antigua and Barbuda – Agave (Agave karatto)
Bahamas – Yellow Elder (Tecoma stans)
Barbados – The pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
Belize – The Black Orchid (Encyclia cochleata)
Canada – Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)
Dominica – Carib Wood (Sabinea carinalis)
Grenada – Bougainvillea (Nyctaginaceae)
Guyana – Victoria Regia Water Lily (Victoria amazonica)
Jamaica – Lignum Vitae (Guiacum officinale)
Saint Lucia – The rose and the marguerite
St Kitts and Nevis – Poinciana (Delonix regia )
St Vincent & the Grenadines – Soufriere Tree (Spachea perforatais)
Trinidad & Tobago – Chaconia (Warszewiczia coccinea)
Cyprus – Cyclamen Cyprium (Cyclamen cyprium)
Malta – Maltese centaury (Cheirolophus crassifolius
England – Rose
Wales – Daffodil (Narcissus)
Northern Ireland – Flax flower
Scotland – Thistle
Australia – Golden wattles (Acacia pycnantha)
Fiji – Tagimaucia (Medinilla waterhousei)
Kiribati – Bidens Kiribatiensis
Nauru – Calophyllum
New Zealand – Kowhai (Sophora microphylla)
Papua – Sepik Blue Orchid (Dendrobium lasianthera)
Samoa – Teuila (Alpinia purpurata)
Solomon Islands – Hibiscus (Hibiscus)
Tonga – Heilala (Garcinia sessilis)
Tuvalu – Plumeria (Plumeria frangipans)
Vanuatu – Anthurium (Anthurium)
The veil is held in place by Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara, lent to the bride by The Queen. The royal diamond bandeau is English and was made in 1932, with the centre brooch dating from 1893.
The bandeau, which is made of diamonds and platinum, is formed as a flexible band of eleven sections, pierced with interlaced ovals and pavé set with large and small brilliant diamonds. The centre is set with a detachable brooch of ten brilliant diamonds.
The diamond bandeau was made for Queen Mary and specifically designed to accommodate the centre brooch. This brooch was given as a present to the then Princess Mary in 1893 by the County of Lincoln on her marriage to Prince George, Duke of York. The bandeau and the brooch were bequeathed by Queen Mary to The Queen in 1953.
The Bride is wearing earrings and bracelet made by Cartier.
The wedding shoes are based on a Givenchy refined pointed couture design made of a silk duchess satin.
The Bride’s Royal Bouquet
Prince Harry handpicked several flowers yesterday from their private garden at Kensington Palace to add to the bespoke bridal bouquet designed by florist Philippa Craddock.
The spring blooms include Forget-Me-Nots which were Diana, Princess of Wales’ favourite flower. The couple specifically chose them to be included in the bride’s bouquet to honour the memory of the late Princess on this special day.
The Bride’s bouquet is a petite design, pulled together in a gentle, ethereal, relaxed style with delicate blooms also including scented sweet peas, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine and astrantia, and sprigs of myrtle, all bound with a naturally dyed, raw silk ribbon.
The myrtle sprigs are from stems planted at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, by Queen Victoria in 1845, and from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s royal wedding bouquet of 1947.
The tradition of carrying myrtle begun after Queen Victoria was given a nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha in Germany. In the same year, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House as a family retreat, and a sprig from the posy was planted against the terrace walls, where it continues to thrive today.
The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, when she married in 1858.
Bridal Hair and Make-Up
Meghan’s hair was styled by Serge Normant, with make-up by long-time friend and make-up artist Daniel Martin.