22 Jul 2011

Kate’s royal wedding gown goes on display

The Duchess of Cambridge’s intricately decorated wedding dress, designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, goes on public display at Buckingham Palace – although the Queen was not so amused.

The dress, which was fashion’s best-kept secret in the run up to the royal wedding, can now be seen up close at a display in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace.

The bridal gown features lace appliqué floral detail and white satin gazar, with a skirt that resembles “an opening flower” with white satin gazar arches and pleats. Its train measured just 9ft – modest in comparison with many previous royal brides.

The lace applique for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework. Each hand-cut lace motif, some as small as a 5p piece, was applied with minute stitches every inch or so.

The Duchess’s veil, Cartier tiara – loaned to the bride by the Queen – and the diamond earrings she wore on the day also form part of the display.

The dress received rapturous reception when it was unveiled on the day of the royal wedding which was watched around the globe by millions of people.

Kate's royal wedding gown goes on display

Queen’s ‘shock’ at dress display

The Queen and Duchess had a chance to walk round the exhibition during a private viewing on Friday, although the Queen appeared to have mixed feelings.

The ghost-like appearance of the headless mannequin used to exhibit the bridal gown – which is lit by 12 strong spotlights – promoted the Monarch to describe it as “horrible”.

As the pair chatted in the ballroom, the pitch of the Queen’s voice raised and she was heard saying “horrible” and then “horrid”.

It appeared the mannequin’s lack of a head may have perturbed the Queen, who added: “It’s made to look very creepy.”

Kate countered with her own view and said it had a “3D effect”.

The identity of the designer was kept secret until the former Miss Middleton appeared in front of Westminster Abbey on 29 April – even the team of embroiderers at Hampton Court Palace did not know the identity of the designer.

For the first time designer Sarah Burton has spoken about working with the Duchess to make the highly anticipated dress.

The price of a famous gown
Marilyn Monroe's white dress worn in the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch sold for 32.8m at an auction in Los Angles last month. The iconic dress was part of a collection owned by actress Debbie Reynolds.

Audrey Hepburn's little black Givenchy dress from 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's was auctioned in 2006 for £467,200. The proceeds went to charity.

Princess Diana's bridal gown still continues to draw crowds since she married Prince Charles 30 years ago. The dress - with a 25-foot train - toured America earlier this year in an exhibition celebrating Diana's life. The dress, owned by her family, is considered a priceless piece.

‘Beauty in the detail’

Ms Burton, of Alexander McQueen, recorded an interview about her design influences and intricate detail of the gown in a film which visitors can view at the exhibition.

Ms Burton said Kate wanted to choose a dress with “presence and of historical importance” but was also keen for a contemporary feel.

Caroline de Guitaut, curator of the exhibition, said it was fitting for the dress to be displayed at the Palace, as it was where the wedding reception took place.

Kate's royal wedding gown goes on display

“I think really the thing that will be a revelation for visitors is how much detail and how much work went into the creation of this dress,” she added.

“The beauty really is in the detail.”

Admirers can view the dress display in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace during the annual summer opening from 23 July, to 3 October.

The diamond earrings worn by the Duchess, which were commissioned by the Middleton family as a personal gift, are in the same display cabinet as her shoes and a replica bouquet.

William and Kate’s multi-tiered wedding cake, created by cake designer Fiona Cairns, will be shown in the state dining room to complement the wedding dress exhibition. The first cut in the cake made by the Duke and Duchess at their wedding reception can be seen at the base (pictured).

It has emerged that the couple decided to save the top layers of their eight-tired wedding cake – a tradition usually undertaken by couples who plan to serve the cake at the christening of their first born.

The pair put the top two tiers of the cake away and tucked into the third as they celebrated their marriage with friends and family, royal wedding cake designer Fiona Cairns said.

The top three tiers have been recreated for the display, with new cakes made especially for the exhibition.

The tour of the 19 state rooms inside Buckingham Palace also lets visitors see the royal Faberge collection – the largest Faberge display in the world.