Meghan Markle, the newly minted Duchess of Sussex, has done an excellent job of showing the world she’s a thoroughly modern woman, and her wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday was no exception.
Arriving at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, Markle stepped out of her car at a few minutes to 12 p.m. GST to reveal a sophisticated and minimalist ensemble crafted by British designer Clare Waight Keller for the French fashion house, Givenchy.
A definite surprise to many royal wedding observers (designers Ralph & Russo, Burberry and Stella McCartney were among the top contenders), it was sleek, chic and relatively fuss-free - the perfect choice for Markle, an assured and self-possessed professional who has nothing to prove, and only the desire to revel in a joyous and historic moment that will be spoken of for some time to come.
Waight Keller was named the artistic director at the iconic, nearly 70-year-old brand last year - the first woman to ever hold that role. Previously, Waight Keller was at another Parisian label, Chloe, and spent her tenure defining a free-spirited and contemporary viewpoint for fashion followers.
Givenchy’s founder, Hubert de Givenchy, was no stranger to dressing actresses like Markle, including Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, and was known for a pared-back and regal sensibility to his clothing. Today’s decidedly understated gown, complete with an ultra-long train (one of the garment’s only elements of opulence) was made of a subtle silk cady and featured three-quarter length sleeves and a dramatic bateau neckline.
Markle chose not to enhance her look with much jewellery, instead radiating a powerful sense of restraint. The Duchess’s simple Cartier earrings and bracelet (again, another bit of surprise considering Markle’s allegiance to Canadian brand, Birks) allowed her glorious tiara to truly shine; the headpiece belonged to HRH Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother, Queen Mary, and boasted an intricate filigree design and splash of diamonds of varying sizes.
Draped over the tiara was a delicate cathedral-length tulle veil that featured embroidered flowers representative of the Commonwealth’s 53 countries, and also the California poppy - a nod to Markle’s Golden Coast roots.
While a comparison to the wedding ensemble of Princess Diana might not seem immediately obvious - after all, she wore an over-the-top gown complete with ruffled neckline and lace sleeves for her 1981 nuptials - there is a broader link between the People’s Princess and her daughter-in-law’s ‘big day’ look. Both woman’s choices reflected their singular sense of style, at once timeless and utterly modern, enviable but not overly exclusive.
Markle has bolstered her reputation as being quite sartorially savvy, while her sister-in-law Kate Middleton typically opts for more “relatable” fashion choices. In her pre-Royal life, Markle attended New York Fashion Week, and has given a spotlight to designers like Veronica Beard and Misha Nonoo, as well as Canadian brands Mackage, Sentaler, Line the Label and Smythe.
Following in her fashionable footsteps, guests at today’s ceremony donned labels like Stella McCartney (Oprah Winfrey and Amal Clooney both wore her designs), Vivienne Westwood, Versace, and new British line, The Vampire’s Wife.
Headwear ranged from petite to outsized, and most pieces would escape the criticism aimed at those sported at Prince William and Duchess Kate’s wedding (Eugenie and Beatrice, we’re looking at you).
Canadian design was happily represented, with the bride’s close confidante, stylist Jessica Mulroney, wearing Montreal’s DiCarlo Couture and jewellery from Birks; Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, also wore Birks earrings and a pendant necklace with her mint green Oscar de la Renta outfit.
Speaking of green, a round of applause to the Queen’s lime-coloured coat and printed Stuart Parvin dress, topped with a green-and-purple hat. It was a bold and upbeat choice, signalling the monarch’s happiness on such a joyful occasion. Participants in the day’s events must have also felt the pressure to present properly, with the wonderful Kingdom Choir’s members sporting shades of pink and blue, and some even opting for hints of metallic flourish. Cellist Sheku Kanneh Mason wore a Paul Smith suit, a designer synonymous with dandy British style.
In all, the affair was refined but full of delight - a perfect representation of the married couple themselves.