It might not be long since the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex happened but Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark is returning top results in Google. Why? Well, not a small handful of commentators have noted its similarity to the Duchess of Cambridge’s custom Givenchy gown, designed by Clare Waight Keller and ooh-ed over by billions of people yesterday.
But let’s not go crying copycat in too quick of a hurry. Firstly, Clare Waight Keller certainly would have been aware of iconic royal wedding dresses throughout history when she went to work on the gown and then would have worked around Markle herself; her taste, her shape, melding it with her own sensibilities honed at Calvin Klein, Gucci, Chloé and now Givenchy.
It is not an accusation, and nor should it be. Those well-versed in royal, and indeed fashion, -history should know that appropriation is an inevitability and originality near-impossible. What is fresh, and what has been executed here with a contemporary flavor, is a timeless dress, matched with the accessories that ground her look in her specific context. The veil, reflecting the 53 Commonwealth countries in hand-embroidered flora, the tiara a gesture from the Queen and a tie to British Royal History, the shape, a nod to a silhouette favored by Hubert de Givenchy’s during the decade of the French house’s founding nearing 70 years ago.
If we were to nitpick, Mary’s was off-white, duchesse satin, with cascading ruffles and panelled lace underlay by Danish designer Uffe Frank. Markle’s was a brighter lily white, with no lace and no ruffles. The Crown Princess of Denmark’s neckline has a slight scoop, rather than straighter bateau as in Markle’s, again though, if we’re being fussy.
Crown Princess Mary of Denmark (left) and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle on their wedding days, in dresses that have drawn inevitable comparisons
A bateau neckline? Nothing new. White silk? Certainly not. But that it was tailored and tweaked to suit Markle personally, paired with the right accessories and a complementary veil by an experienced tastemaker in Clare Weight Keller make it envy-inducing. Comments that she won’t be setting trends will most definitely be proved wrong – trends don’t have to be new (can you say ‘florals’?). Dressmakers underestimating the power and visibility of the Royal wedding will be caught short. It isn’t that it’s groundbreaking, it is alluring because it is in fact so enduring, and simple styles in fashion are those that do not suffer being dated. “The dress epitomises a timeless minimal elegance referencing the codes of the iconic House of Givenchy,” as Kensington Palace described. “The slim three-quarter sleeves add a note of refined modernity.” We tend to agree.