With only a few months to go until the royal wedding, the team here at SHOP are all abuzz with ideas from the spring/summer 2018 bridal collections and taking bets on which designer would be the best match for Suits actress Meghan Markle. With so much secrecy surrounding the event, everyone at London Fashion Week and in the SHOP offices is dying to know more about the dress. Here, we’ve picked our favourite designers and reveal our predictions for the royal bride-to-be’s big day.
Sufiyeh Hadian-Clarke, acting online editor: Jenny Packham
A firm royal favourite, most notably with the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore an emerald-green dress by the British designer to the recent 2018 Bafta film awards, Jenny Packham wins my vote. For her spring/summer 2018 bridal collection, Packham took inspiration from the novel The Falling and the character of Clara, with her striking beauty, courage and love of freedom.
Packham is a fitting choice for the soon-to-be duchess and I adore Markle’s more contemporary approach to dressing, compared to Kate Middleton, so who knows, she could in fact wear a bridal separate. “Our brides have always been a little bit alternative,” Packham says, adding that separates, new for spring/summer 2018, were included for “girls who want to create their own outfits.
It’s this idea of being a bit daring in bridal and taking a few risks.” Markle could choose from corseted bodices, which were given a fashion-forward edge with metallic stitching, or embellishments that mimicked tattoos on long-sleeved gowns. This edgy collection also honed in on what Packham does best: graceful femininity fit for a princess—or perhaps a duchess.
Jenny Packham, 3A Carlos Place, London W1K 3AN, +44 (0)20 7493 6295
Ruairidh Pritchard, acting deputy editor: Erdem
What better choice for the soon to be duchess than London-based Canadian and Turkish designer Erdem Moralıoğlu? They are both transatlantic Londoners and both known for their elegant yet contemporary style – it’s the perfect fit.
While Erdem isn’t known for creating wedding gowns, the brand’s recent spring collections have featured some dresses that have verged towards bridal. Spring/summer 2016, for example, featured one particularly romantic gown, with a high prairie neckline (a favourite style of Markle’s) in frayed layered white organza silk, which would be the ideal foundation for a thoroughly modern, fashion-forward royal wedding dress.
Having already gained the family seal of approval, with fans including the Duchess of Cambridge and Countess of Wessex, Erdem is no stranger to the royal wardrobe. With an Erdem wedding dress, the soon-to-be royal would be making a bold fashion statement and, as a result, Markle would propel herself and the already much-coveted designer even further into the fashion spotlight.
Erdem, 70 South Audley Street, London W1K 2RA, +44 (0)20 3327 3758
Lucinda Turner, acting fashion editor: Temperley London
Having already proven itself to be a firm favourite with the royals, Temperley London could be a perfect choice for Meghan Markle’s big day. The brand, founded by Alice Temperley in 2000, is responsible for many of Kate Middleton’s most famous looks over the years, as well as those of her sister Pippa.
The designer even picked up an MBE from the Queen in 2011 so she has certainly got Harry’s grandmother’s seal of approval. If Markle is planning on picking up shopping tips from her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Temperley London could certainly be on the cards. Judging by Markle’s choice of a ball gown-style Ralph & Russo dress for her engagement photographs, the Lauren dress from Temperley London’s latest bridal collection would be just up her street. The sheer embroidered long sleeves are fashion-forward yet demure enough for the grand setting of Windsor Castle, while the full tulle skirt is undoubtedly fit for a fairy-tale and ideal for someone about to marry her prince.
Countless members of British high society have favoured Temperley London wedding dresses over the years, including many of Prince Harry’s friends, so perhaps Markle will keep things decidedly British with this elegant, stylish ball gown.
Temperley London, 27 Bruton Street, London W1J 6QN, +44 (0)20 7313 5280
Fani Mari, assistant fashion editor: Vivienne Westwood
Both classic and unconventional, Vivienne Westwood would be the perfect choice for the royal wedding and bride-to-be Meghan Markle. The designs for the bridal line are created to reflect Westwood’s British heritage, together with her playful, signature edge.
The bespoke bridalwear would be a good fit for Markle on her wedding day as she seems quite down to earth in her public appearances so far. The Westwood bridal collection is characterised by simple fluid lines, silk and tulle fabrics, and design and craftsmanship that is second to none. It is rumoured that the duchess-to-be will break with some royal wedding traditions (like Kate, she will have a maid of honour), so why not continue this with a hint of rock ‘n’ roll for her wedding dress? A long train and bodice with lace details in a bias cut will suit Markle perfectly.
How about the aptly named Harry dress from the Couture collection? The ivory crepe marocain dress accentuates the female body and is a classic Westwood look. This dress pays homage to the 1996 Liz dress, inspired by late Hollywood star Elizabeth Taylor and her glamorous luxury style. As part of the Couture collection, this is a completely bespoke gown that is personalised and handcrafted at Westwood’s London atelier.
Vivienne Westwood Couture, 6 Davies Street, London W1K 3DN, +44 (0)20 7629 3757
Hannah Lewis, features editor: Christopher Kane
A left-field choice perhaps, but I would love to see Meghan Markle opt for something completely unexpected and I think Christopher Kane would be just that. He’s an eccentric designer, yes, but every collection since his first has been original and exciting, and I just know he would create something spectacular for the royal wedding.
Although Kane does not present bridal collections, he has been known to create bespoke pieces for special clients and who could be more special than the future Mrs Prince Harry? Last year, Kane reimagined one of his autumn/winter 2015/16 Lovers Lace dresses to create a wedding gown for jewellery designer Katie Kova and the result was completely stunning. If Markle was looking to do something similar, there are some beautiful pieces from spring/summer 2018 that – with a little imagination – could be transformed into elegant, feminine and showstopping bridal creations. Though perhaps she’ll leave the rubber gloves (as worn by models for the brand’s spring/summer 2018 shows) at home.
Kane’s concepts may tend towards the subversive, but ultimately he’s a talented designer who knows how to make beautiful clothes that women love to wear, and I would be so excited to see how he would inject his own aesthetic into the traditional wedding gown. Commentators are already noting that Markle’s style is edgier than Kate’s and if the Duchess of Cambridge can marry in a gown by Alexander McQueen – one of Britain’s most famously avant-garde labels – I see no reason why we shouldn’t see her future sister-in-law walk down the aisle in Christopher Kane.
Christopher Kane, 6-7 Mount Street, London W1K 3EH, +44 (0)20 7493 3111
Amberose He, Chinese online editor: Jasper Conran
English designer Jasper Conran has featured on The Independent on Sunday’s Pink List of 100 influential gay and lesbian people in Britain and has definitely achieved the status of national treasure.
In 2008, Conran received an OBE for his services to retail and has designed almost every type of lifestyle related product, including womenswear, menswear, crystal, fine bone china, accessories and homeware. He also has a bridalwear line and most of his bridal dresses are classic, stylish and use only pure-white fabrics. From lace to organza or taffeta, Jasper Conran always creates dresses that are just right. Jasper Conran’s women’s occasion and evening wear line is also suitable for wedding guests.
The royal family can choose from a wealth of talented British designers to create the royal wedding dress, including others who have been awarded an OBE, so could Jasper Conran be the final candidate? Is Jasper Conran’s bridalwear the perfect match for Meghan Markle’s style? Let’s wait and see.
Emily Scrivener, associate online editor: Emilia Wickstead
New Zealand-born, London-based designer Emilia Wickstead has built up an impressive portfolio of bridal dresses for royal and society weddings. Her modern, polished pieces have a timeless quality and draw on the wedding looks of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn for inspiration.
This aesthetic has made Wickstead’s bridal and ready-to-wear designs increasingly popular with royals, including the Duchess of Cambridge, who has worn Wickstead’s dresses on many occasions and cites her as a favourite designer. Wickstead’s bridal creations include Lady Charlotte Wellesley’s off-the-shoulder wedding dress with a cathedral-length veil ‒ something that Meghan Markle might wish to emulate at her wedding at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
The Meagan dress featured in Emilia Wickstead’s first bridal collection and seems an auspicious name. Meghan Markle shows a preference for minimal, modern dresses with considered details, and this dress, with its elegant bateau neckline, fitted silhouette and silk composition, is the perfect marriage of both Wickstead and Markle’s classic style.
Emilia Wickstead, 162A Sloane Street, London SW1X 9BS, +44 (0)20 7235 1104
Katie Muxworthy, production editor: Ralph & Russo
Renowned for creating extravagant couture designs, this season Ralph & Russo concluded its SS18 presentation in Paris with a showstopping bridal gown that is more than fitting for a future princess. Romantic, feminine and undeniably royal, the off-white double duchess bridal dress was accompanied by a floor-length billowing tulle veil, intricately adorned with embellished corded lace.
Attention to detail is this brand’s forte: the draped bodice features floral ruching, hand-embroidered pearlescent micro beads, 3D Swarovski jewelled leaves, silk floss flowers and intricate metallic silk thread-work that subtly catches the light with every movement. Ralph & Russo is the only British fashion house permitted by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to show during Paris Couture Week and all its dresses are made by hand in an atelier bigger than Chanel’s, meaning the adornment on each gown really is second-to-none.
Ralph & Russo is already a Meghan Markle favourite. The couture duo are the creatives behind that daring sheer gold-leaf-adorned gown worn by Markle in the official engagement photographs that were released by Kensington Palace in January 2018. With all eyes on her this spring, Markle could do no wrong in a British couture showstopper.
Ralph & Russo, 40 Park Street, London W1K 2JG, +44 (0)20 8878 5399
Ginger Clark, news editor: Roksanda
Roksanda has become one of the UK’s leading fashion labels since it was launched by designer Roksanda Ilincic at London Fashion Week in 2005. The brand now has a store on London’s prestigious Mount Street, featuring a VIP area for bridal and bespoke options. The designer, whose studio is located in east London, places an important focus on high-quality materials and craftsmanship which can be admired in the label’s elegant and feminine designs that often incorporate colour.
Should Meghan Markle opt for a wedding dress by Roksanda, it wouldn’t be the first time one of Ilincic’s creations has been worn in royal circles. Danica Marinkovic wore a gown by the London-based designer when she married Prince Philip of Serbia in 2017 and the Duchess of Cambridge has also been known to wear pieces by the brand.
A minimal take on bridalwear, this Roksanda Margot dress in ivory would be an incredibly contemporary choice for Markle. The sculptural shape, with a fitted waist and bell sleeves, makes this a simple yet incredibly flattering option for the bride. The dress would be perfectly complemented by a statement pair of shoes – Manolo Blahnik or British footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood spring to mind.
Roksanda, 9 Mount Street, London W1K 3NG, +44 (0)20 7613 6499
Rebecca Rhys-Evans, fashion and lifestyle writer: Alexander McQueen
After the Duchess of Cambridge wore Alexander McQueen for what can only be described as the wedding of the century, it would be natural to assume that Ms Markle may follow in her soon-to-be sister-in-law’s footsteps. Kate Middleton chose Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen, to design the dress for her wedding day in April 2011.
Burton joined the brand in 1997 as a personal assistant to McQueen after graduating in fashion from Central Saint Martins and was made head of womenswear in 2000. She was considered McQueen’s right-hand woman in design, making dresses for Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett and Lady Gaga – all in quintessential McQueen style – and has remained at the helm of the brand since Alexander McQueen’s death in 2010. Although Kate’s dress was a traditional 1950s-inspired white lace style, that echoed Grace Kelly’s choice when marrying Prince Rainier III of Monaco, the house is known for its progressive approach to design and has the potential to surprise the world on the big day.
Alexander McQueen wedding gowns are custom-made only and, as it’s a royal wedding, we’re not expecting anything too eccentric. With Markle’s known love for pieces that are feminine, tailored and traditional, we’d expect something simple yet sophisticated, that looks a little like the featured dress taken from the brand’s spring/summer 2018 collection.
Alexander McQueen, 4-5 Old Bond Street, London W1S 4PD, +44 (0)20 7355 0088