With news now confirmed that Prince Harry will marry Meghan Markle, we can justly assume that the fashion press will continuously speculate about who will design her wedding dress from now until the big day itself next spring.
Designing a royal wedding dress is no easy feat as Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton will attest, having created the Duchess of Cambridge’s white bridal gown in April 2011. She has previously said one of the key challenges lay in the fact that “it had to be a dress of historical importance and one which had enough presence for Westminster Abbey, and yet it needed to be modest”.
In the case of Markle, the gown might not need to be quite as grand as the Duchess of Cambridge’s – depending on where the couple decide to get married. Will they opt for the grandeur of Westminster Abbey, or somewhere smaller? At the moment, it is unclear even if the wedding will be public or private.
However, if it is a public event then Markle’s wedding dress will need to be stately, feminine and traditional. This doesn’t mean it should be meringue-shaped and princess-like in a stereotypical sense, but it’s unlikely to be overly daring, nor risqué. Regardless, her choice will ensure that the respective brand is placed in the international limelight and a huge boost in sales and and exposure is inevitable.
So which style and designer is Markle likely to choose?
What one of the world’s most popular wedding dress designers thinks
Grace Loves Lace, the Australian brand known for having created the world’s most pinned wedding dress, has weighed in on what Markle should wear. The label is famed for its romantic gowns that have a relaxed, understated appeal in keeping with the actress’ style sensibilities. Each design is made using the finest French lace befitting of a royal bride.
“I would love to see Meghan in a fitted silhouette with a high neckline and centre front opening in the skirt to the lower knee, with a capped or 3/4 sleeve and dramatic train,” said the brand’s founder Megan Ziems. “It would be spectacular to see her in a contemporary embroidery or lace to fuse a little modern edge with tradition.”
The fashion favourites
She’ll be under pressure to choose a British label, so Erdem – a Canadian designer based in London – is a prime contender. Not only is the brand a favourite among the British fashion press, but his profile was recently raised by his successful collaboration with H&M. Markle – who has worn the label before – will also no doubt be pleased by the idea that the two share a Canadian connection.
Other favourites of the royal-to-be include Antonio Berardi, which she wore at a polo match with Prince Harry in May this year. Known for his sensual, feminine designs and fine tailoring, popular with the likes of Blake Lively, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Bosworth, the London-born designer could create a gown that would be ladylike and glamorous, but modern. He’s also big into luxury fabrics and couture-like execution befitting of a young royal.
Markle has a much more laidback style than the Duchess of Cambridge; prim knee-length skirts and dress coats are not her thing. Her wardrobe features Preen, Victoria Beckham and Burberry, ready-to-wear brands that are unlikely to make it to the wedding aisle (although wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a future royal marry in a darkly romantic, innovative label such as Preen?)
Giles Deacon, who designed Pippa Middleton’s wedding dress this summer, has already said he’d be up for the challenge. “If Meghan Markle was in any way interested, I would be more than delighted,” he told the Daily Star. “But I’m sure she’s got plenty of other people on her list.” Regardless of Deacon’s enthusiasm, Markle is unlikely to choose a brand recently worn by a royal bride, so we can assume that McQueen will be out too.
Ralph & Russo
If Markle really wants to show her support for British fashion, then London-based luxury label Ralph & Russo would be a wise move. Last season, the Brit couturiers (who already have a bridal line) moved from the Paris catwalk to London Fashion Week where they debuted ready-to-wear for the first time – a critically acclaimed collection characterised by glittering embellishment and feminine nipped-in waists. The look was dramatic, but without obvious princess references.
Another option is Emilia Wickstead, whose sculpted feminine dresses in pastel shades would work perfectly as contemporary bridalwear. The brand is also popular on the red carpet (Olivia Palermo, Gigi Hadid and Diane Kruger are all fans) and also with the Duchess of Cambridge who has worn the designer on multiple occasions. If Markle chooses Wickstead, she can rest assured that her simple-yet-beautiful gowns not only photograph well, but also carry a certain fashion caché.
What she wore for her first wedding
A lot has been written about Markle’s first wedding to producer and director Trevor Engelson in 2011. The married on a beach in Jamaica and the bride wore a very simple, strapless gown by an unknown designer. The column-like white dress featured ruched detailing at the neckline and was cinched in by an embellished belt. She accessorised with an understated gold bangle and a golden tan, while her hair was left loose. It’s unlikely that Markle will choose a such a low-key beach-appropriate look for the royal wedding, but she might follow a similarly simple theme. Perhaps anything with too much lace or embroidery would be a no-go.
Her wedding dress style icon
When Glamour asked Markle last year about her favourite celebrity wedding dress, she cited the simple Narcisco Rodriguez slip worn by Carolyn Bessette Kennedy when she married John F Kennedy Jr in 1996. The bias-cut, pearl-coloured dress exuded 90s simplicity and defied conventions as a modern, graceful, yet fuss-free bridal look.
The royal favourites
Then there’s the roster of traditional bridal brands loved by British women – Temperley London, Jenny Packham and Amanda Wakeley, as well the favoured dress designers of older members of the royal family, including Bruce Oldfield, Norman Hartnell and David and Elizabeth Emmanuel.
Related article: 6 Major Ways Meghan Markle Has Already Broken Royal Convention
But such fussy, formal and extravagant designs are unlikely to appeal to Markle, whose approach to royal style is different from her peers. When she made her first official appearance with Prince Harry at the Invictus Games back in September, she chose a relaxed, accessible ensemble of jeans and white shirt teamed with Sarah Flint ballet pumps. She has previously described French Vogue editor Emmanuelle Alt as her “style spirit animal”, which is polished but not manicured. “I think as you get older you feel more confident and you don’t need to put that much effort in – to be able to throw your hair up in that very French way doing things,” she told Glamour.
How will this translate into a wedding dress? Understated, feminine but modern. And so months of speculation begins.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK