Will Kate's Bridal Dress Reach Fashion Runways?

Originally published on April 29, 2011 11:35 am
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On to a happier topic - the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. It was today. The event drew tens of thousands of people to the streets of London and an estimated two billion people watched around the world.

(Soundbite of cheering)

MARTIN: That's the sound of the crowds cheering as the newlyweds left Westminster Abbey in London, where the wedding ceremony took place. Now, if you're a fan of royalty or weddings, or just romance in general, then you probably couldn't wait to see the procession, the ceremony and of course the dress. But then again you might not have cared at all.

So either way, we wanted to talk about it. So we've called upon one of our favorite fashionistas, Robin Givhan, special correspondent for style and culture for Newsweek and the Daily Beast. And she's with us from our bureau in New York. Welcome back. Thanks for joining us. Did you love it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ROBIN GIVHAN (Style and Culture, Newsweek and The Daily Beast): I enjoyed it. I really did. I have to say, I might have enjoyed it better if it were on at about 11 o'clock East Coast time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Well, were you excited about it? I was reading on some of the fashion blogs that some people were, like, eh, so what? Which camp - were you in that love it, can't wait or were you in the so what camp?

Ms. GIVHAN: You know, I think I was in a middle ground camp that was sort of curiosity. I mean, I wasn't overwhelmingly excited. I wasn't one of those people who said, oh, absolutely. I'm going to be up with my scones and clotted cream, you know, watching the wedding.

But, you know, I was curious to see, you know, how Kate Middleton would look because so much of the conversation had really centered around these two being the start of a modern monarchy.

MARTIN: Now, I do want to hear more about why you think the different reactions existed. There was the so what camp - people saying, I really don't, you know, care. And then there are people who are really very excited, particularly in the United States. I mean there was wall-to-wall coverage on the major networks and many of the cable outlooks. And so, I'm interested in your take on that. But give me your reaction to the dress and the whole presentation of the wedding party.

Ms. GIVHAN: Well, I think one of the most interesting things about the dress is that she ended up choosing one designed by the house of Alexander McQueen, which is now run by Sarah Burton. And for a lot of people, certainly in the fashion industry and those who follow fashion, the rumors that Sarah Burton might actually be designing the dress really sort of indicated that perhaps this was going to be someone who was really interested in fashion, was going to take some fashion risks.

But, you know, when I saw the dress, I actually thought, that is a very traditional gown. You know, I don't think that a lot of people in their heart of hearts expected that this was going to be a fashion-forward gown. I mean, I think the last time, really, in modern history that a gown made such a fashion statement that it really changed the way that contemporary brides dressed, I think was really with Carolyn Bessette's gown that she wore when she married JFK Junior.

And it was striking because, I mean, it was practically, like, a little nightgown of a dress. And, you know, usually though, brides tend to be more traditional than they are in their everyday lives when they're selecting their wedding gown, because they do sort of tap into tradition and the idea of fairy tales and also the idea of wanting to be able to look back on those photographs and not have it appear that they were trapped in some kind of strange fashion fad.

MARTIN: I wanted to ask you, Robin, about the sort of different reactions. I mean, some people super excited. And I know that there are - well girls - women of my generation, many of us got up at the crack of dawn to watch the wedding of Princess Diana and, you know, Prince Charles. And, you know, people can make of that what they want.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: But now I hear some of the bloggers are saying, well, you know what, these days we have all kinds of reality shows. We have a lot more access to fancy weddings and the preparations there than we used to. So it's just not as exciting an event for us. We don't care.

On the other hand, tremendous interest in the United States. As I mentioned, major networks all giving it wall-to-wall coverage for days on end. I mean, some of it - so I'm just wondering what you make of it, as our person who covers both fashion and culture. What do you think that says?

Ms. GIVHAN: Well, I mean, I think some of it has, certainly in the States, has to do with the fact that we don't live with the monarchy every day. So something like this is really quite a rarity. And there are certainly people, you know, in the U.K., who are anti-monarchists and who don't really celebrate the royal family. Although I don't think any of them were out today.

And the other thing that you said about invasion of reality shows into our lives. I mean, I do think that it's taken a lot of the mystery and the fantasy out of these kinds of occasions. I mean, we so often see the work and the effort that goes into these things. And so they don't necessarily appear as magical.

MARTIN: Finally, Robin, before we let you go, we hear that, I don't know if knock-off industry is a fair term or not, is kind of chomping at the bit. And the second that the dress appeared, that there would be copies of it made. Do you think that we will be seeing versions of that dress soon?

Ms. GIVHAN: You know, I think the dress had so many classic lines that I don't know that we'll be seeing knockoffs. But I think that the dress that the maid of honor, Pippa Middleton, wore, which was also designed by Sarah Burton, I think that we will see that one knocked off because it had a very distinctive silhouette and it had a very distinctive cowl neckline.

MARTIN: And you can't beat a tiara though.

Ms. GIVHAN: You can't beat a tiara. Even I got a little teary-eyed when she came out in the tiara.

MARTIN: I knew there was a softy in there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Robin Givhan is special correspondent for style and culture for Newsweek and The Daily Beast and she joined us from our bureau in New York. Robin, thanks so much.

Ms. GIVHAN: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.