Kate's Gown: Something Old, Something New

Kate's Sarah Burton gown has inspired elements from Princess Margaret and Serena Stanhope's wedding gowns.

By , Contributor
There is no greater beauty than that of a luminous bride. The Duchess of Cambridge was simply radiant in her Sarah Burton confection-of-a gown. The newest member of the Royal family illustrated that she has the vision, grace and diplomacy to sally forth in her new role as a modern woman with a very keen sense of history. She is the epitome of 'something new."

All eyes were on Kate Middleton as she alighted from the Bentley at Westminster Abbey.  While the world was allowed a period of grace from reporting conflicts in every corner, we were spellbound as she revealed herself in her much anticipated gown. There was a collective 'ahhhh' as we drank in every aspect of Sarah Burton's creation. True to form, there is nothing 'common' about this commoner. She has etched a place for herself in the House of Royal Fashion History, 'something old', and rightfully so.

Katesdress.jpgHer choice of a classic silhouette with obvious modernity was spectacular.

The dress, ivory and white satin gazar, embellished with French Chantilly and English Cluny lace was designed to emulate an opening flower. The perfectly proportioned train was nine feet long. Her exquisite veil, simply softening her beautiful face, was made of silk tulle and trimmed with hand-embroidered flowers.

It was anchored by a Cartier 'halo' tiara which was presented to Queen Elizabeth on her 18th birthday. Doesn't every girl want a diamond tiara on that special day? This is her 'something borrowed'. While every other woman in the Abbey was wearing Choos, Kate was shod in impeccable handmade, satin and lace shoes by McQueen. The bride's diamond earrings by Robinson Pelham were inspired by the Middleton's coat-of-arms. Kate has a perfect sense of 'less is more'.

Everyone of a certain vintage can remember (or Google) a image of Princess Diana's gown but few can conjure up a vision of Princess Margaret at her wedding in 1960. Diana's dress had a certain similarity to Queen Victoria's with its voluminous sleeves, lace accents and endless train, however, it's not a style that many modern brides would copy. Diana was a nineteen-year old girl with scant, sartorial experience. Royal blood doesn't make one an innate fashion plate. Diana came into her own, beautifully, as she found her sleek and understated, elegant style.

Princess Margaret, though never known as a trendsetter, can now claim her place as one.  She chose Norman Hartnell as her couturier. In 1960, Margaret's was the first-ever televised royal wedding and her thoroughly modern dress reflected the era and set a tone for brides to come. The lines of Kate's and Margaret's dress are much the same; clean, figure-flattering, classic, yet, consummately current.

Serena Stanhope emulated this same style in her 1993 wedding to Viscount Linley. Side by side, we see that there is nothing more beautiful than incorporating impeccable fabric, subtle embellishment and elegant lines into a dress to stand the test of time. Kate made it her own by using handmade lace (crafted by the Royal School of Needlework) for the sleeves, adding a delicate and slightly sexy air to the dress all the while putting her own stamp on history.

Long live Princess Catherine and her glittering sense of style...

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Cynthia Carr Gardner is a free-lance stylist in New York, Los Angeles and Boston. She began her career at Glamour Magazine as a sportswear editor and arbiter of the famed 'Do's and Don'ts.' Her work spans 33 years incorporating feature films, commercials, and currently, personal stylist for ESPN Monday…

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