Whether you were one of the estimated two billion viewers that tuned in to April’s royal wedding and you’ve been dreaming of the Duchess’s dress ever since, or you somehow missed the all-consuming coverage of Kate’s big fashion moment, now is your chance to get up close to Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen’s iconic creation.
Buckingham Palace has just opened its doors to the public and the Y&YW team were among the first to get a look at The Dress. Fashioned from sumptuous ivory and white satin-gazar, with hand-stitched floral motifs cut from six different kinds of lace, it takes pride of place on a raised platform in the grand Ballroom. We got close enough to count 58 gazar and organza covered buttons down the back and admire the delicate rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock lace appliqué. There’s also a fascinating video presented by Sarah Burton in her design workshop showing the sheer scale of the craftmanship that went into creating the gorgeous gown.
But the dress is not the only attraction. All of the best bits from the fantasy wedding of the year are on display to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over, including Kate’s glittering diamond earrings and that Cartier Halo tiara, loaned by none other than Her Majesty the Queen herself. The Duchess’ hand-crafted shoes were also on show and a quick sneak at the soles confirmed Kate has dainty size 5½ feet!
But while most brides-to-be still might not expect to walk down the aisle, Cinderella style, in a diamond studded tiara, they might find inspiration for their wedding cake. Fiona Cairns’ heavenly creation, 17 individual cakes stacked to make eight tiers decorated with hand-made cream and white icing flowers, is on show in the State Dining Room. Closer inspection shows the first cut made by Prince William and his new wife during their afternoon wedding reception. Sadly, the palace isn’t offering any taste tests though; after all, this isn’t your average wedding show!
So whether you’re a bride-to-be or a fashionista (or both!), access to Buckingham Palace is your one chance to play at being princess for the day, unless of course, you – like Kate – have already found your prince.
By Claire Snewin and Alexandra Davey
The Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace begins on 23rd July and runs until 3rd of October. Tickets are available online at royalcollection.org.uk or by calling 020 7766 7300.