Kate's Dress: Who Will It Be?

WWD sizes up the designers in contention to outfit Kate Middleton for the Big Day.

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Kate Middleton

Photo By Danny Martindale/FilmMagic

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWDStyle issue 04/12/2011

LONDON — There are three weeks to go until K-Day, when royal bride-to-be Kate Middleton will, after five months of keeping the public on tenterhooks, reveals her sartorial secret. Buckingham Palace officials confirmed earlier this week that the details of her dress would be revealed the minute Middleton steps out of her car at Westminster Abbey on the morning of April 29.

“The aim is to protect Prince William from knowing anything about the dress — something all brides do on their wedding day,” said Patrick Harrison, Prince Charles’ press secretary.

That may be the case, but the secrecy has ignited a flurry of speculation as to which designer is doing The Dress. Bookmaker Paddy Power has revised its odds, now offering 1-25 it will be Sarah Burton of McQueen — who has already denied she is doing the dress — making her by far the favorite, and 4-1 it will be Bruce Oldfield. Other names that have been bandied about in the past include Alice Temperley, who sources say is not doing the dress; Phillipa Lepley, who has also denied the speculation, and Issa’s Daniella Helayel (12-1), who is keeping resolutely mum.

What is increasingly clear as the Big Day approaches is that Oldfield, Helayel, Temperley and the design team at Catherine Walker are all involved with the wedding in some way. Face it, there are plenty of dresses to go around: In addition to the Big Dress, there are the outfits for the little bridesmaids and maid of honor Pippa Middleton, and the outfit Kate will wear later that evening for dinner and dancing at Buckingham Palace. Not to mention the mother of the bride’s dress and the dress the Duchess of Cornwall will wear.

Elizabeth Emanuel, who together with her ex-husband David Emanuel created Princess Diana’s iconic wedding dress, told WWD she is convinced there will be “a surprise element” to Middleton’s outfit.

“It’s such an important dress, there’s got to be a classic underlying look to it, but I think there will be a little bit of a twist…an element of excitement,” she said.

Emanuel added the mystery designer, at this point, will have already sewn the body of the dress and will now be working on additional handwork, such as embroidery, beading and other embellishment. Emanuel said she was working on Diana’s dress until the last minute. “We could never put enough sequins and pearls on — it was that kind of dress,” she said.

On the following pages, a rundown of some of the candidates, and their pros and cons.

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