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Distinctive necklines to reign supreme after royal wedding boost

Ms. meghan markle in givenchy haute couture by clare waight keller (1)

High-necked dresses, bateau necklines and unembellished styles are set to sweep the bridal, high street and occasionwear market in the wake of the royal wedding, retailers and brands have told Drapers.

Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, wore a minimalist bateau-neck Givenchy gown for her wedding to Prince Harry at Windsor Castle last weekend, despite months of rumours that she would choose a design by British couturier Ralph & Russo.

The pure white dress, which was made from a double-bonded silk cady, had three-quarter-length sleeves, a sculpted waist and was worn with a 5 metre-long silk tulle veil embroidered with flowers representing the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

It was created by Birmingham-born designer Clare Waight Keller, who replaced Riccardo Tisci to become the first female artistic director of luxury Parisian fashion house Givenchy in March last year.

The new Duchess later changed into a high halter-neck silk crepe gown by Stella McCartney for the wedding’s evening reception at Frogmore House.

“Both dresses will be hugely influential, although the Givenchy dress will probably be more pivotal for wedding, rather than occasionwear trends,” said Neil Hendy, creative director of high street retailer Coast. “The [Stella McCartney] dress will be very much copied in different colours and prints because it is such a flattering style. I think we’ll see various incarnations on the high street as it is so easy for customers to wear.”

Gio Najar, director and co-founder of occasionwear brand Chi Chi London, said: “We saw what happened when the Duchess of Cambridge got married [in 2011]: it really moved fashion on. We have a white bridal dress with a similar bateau neckline [to the Givenchy dress] on our website and over the weekend we saw sales increase, so we already know people will be looking for those styles.

”You’ll see both styles everywhere – people will have been straight into the office on Monday morning to incorporate it into high summer collections and it will carry on into autumn 18.”

Amy Molloy, a buyer at fast fashion and occasionwear retailer Quiz, which launched its first bridal range in April last year, agreed: “For us, it was the necklines that really stood out. We were looking for new shapes anyway and were exploring bateau and halter-neck styles, so now we know both will be key trends for autumn 18 and into Next year. The halter neck might be a bit too modern for most brides, but it can be incorporated into short dresses, midi-dresses, even on the top of jumpsuits.”

Carly Hallahan, founder and creative director of occasionwear brand Jarlo London, echoed this: “Everyone will be scrambling to make like-for-like dresses at reasonable prices. Her choices were understated and powerful. The [bateau] neckline of the Givenchy dress really stands out and we’ll see a lot more of that in the market. The Stella McCartney dress will also be hugely influential, again because of that distinctive shape and neckline.”

Bridal and occasionwear designer Kate Halfpenny, founder of the eponymous label, praised the Duchess’s choice.

“I knew it was going to be super simple. Meghan’s so chic she didn’t need to be drowning in lace. She couldn’t have chosen a better designer than Clare Waight Keller. It was a beautiful dress reminiscent of the dress Givenchy designed for Audrey Hepburn and I love that it was designed by a British designer with such an incredible track record. The dress was a confident choice – thousands of brides will want to look like that and doubtless it will have a huge impact on the industry.”

Occasionwear brands experienced an immediate boost to sales over the wedding weekend.

“The weekend of the royal wedding was our busiest all month, despite the fact that it fell before pay day, because of the Facebook and Instagram campaigns we ran,” said Beth Chilton, co-founder of contemporary women’s occasionwear brand Hope & Ivy.

Co-founder Sarah Sleightholm added that the wedding guests, who included international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney in Stella McCartney, actress Carey Mulligan in Erdem and Victoria Beckham (in her own design) and husband David Beckham (in Dior Homme), would be equally as influential over occasionwear trends.

Emma Corfield, brand manager of occasionwear label Frock & Frill, argued: “The market is already reacting to Meghan’s choice of dresses. It will be hugely, hugely influential and we’ve already seen a positive impact on sales, which rose by 30% over the weekend of the wedding.”

“We were watching the guests just as closely and the number of Hollywood stars present will have such an impact,” she said. “It was great to see so many florals and vivid, bright colours, as well as the more traditional pastels.”

Almost 11 million people in the UK and 22.4 million in the US watched the royal wedding on TV.

The dress by numbers 

  • 5 metres of silk tulle
  • 53 Commonwealth counties represented in flowers
  • Diamond bandeau created in 1932
  • 50 people worked on the dress
  • 3,900 hours to create the dress 
  • 4 months of work


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