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Dressing Kate

  • Ivy Higa’s design.


More than just a big day for royal watchers, wedding planners will be taking plenty of notes when Kate Middleton walks down the matrimonial aisle with her prince at midnight tonight, in a reported $40 million extravaganza. Her gown is expected to cost $20,000 to $25,000.

“I’m so excited,” said Gladys Agsalud, owner of Casablanca Bridal, who saw firsthand how Diana Spencer’s royal wedding to Prince Charles in 1981 set bridal trends for more than a decade.

“I started in this business in 1992, 11 years afterward, and brides were still asking for Princess Diana-style wedding gowns and tiaras, and looking back, it wasn’t a great gown. It was so gaudy. It had big pouffy sleeves; it was way over the top,” she said.

“It really overpowered her, but brides wanted to be like her. I see the same thing happening with Kate. Whatever she selects will be leading bridal wear for many, many years.”

Agsalud said it’s because many young girls have spent years imagining their own gowns.

“I already have some brides who ordered strapless gowns, but rumor has it Kate will be wearing sleeves, so they’re already asking if there’s anything they can wear over their strapless dresses.”

It’ll be another five to six months before Middleton-style gowns start arriving for fall brides, but Agsalud said she’ll try to find similar alternatives for summer brides as well.

Strapless gowns have been the trend for seven years, and Agsalud admits she’s tired of them and would welcome a more traditional look.

“You can wear a strapless dress anywhere, but it’s not every day you can wear a wedding gown with a 10-foot train,” she said.

“Brides have also done away with the veil and have been wearing fresh flowers or feathers in their hair, and that’s fine, but to me the veil says you’re the bride.”

The strapless trend showed no sign of abating until Ivanka Trump walked down the aisle with Jared Kushner in 2009 in a romantic, traditional lace gown with a high neck, lace sleeves and long veil.

“She’s a very beautiful, stylish woman who could totally pull off a sexy look, but she went classy and sophisticated, and suddenly women felt it was OK to have a high-neck dress. No one wants to look out of date, so brides need to be convinced,” she said.

“It was going back to a 1950s style reminiscent of Grace Kelly. She was always stylishly dressed, but for her wedding gown she went for a high neck, long sleeves and train going out the door. And she looked beautiful.”

It’s been widely circulated on the Internet that Middleton’s designer is Sophie Cranston of Libélula, known for classic, feminine and romantic dresses.

Agsalud said she heard the bride-to-be designed her own gown. Given the historic occasion and Middleton’s sophisticated sense of style, Agsalud is certain her gown will be one worthy of a princess.

“I know it’s gonna be glamorous, beautiful and ultraelegant.”

AT THE Bridal Boutique, co-owner Cecilia Domingo said Kate is “a real modern bride, so I’m sure she’ll do some kind of ballgown, but with a little less skirt, not as pouffy as Princess Diana’s.

“I don’t know if she’ll do white. I’m imagining eggshell or champagne in beautiful silks, anything rich looking, from organza to duchesse,” she said.

“I’m wondering if, as a result, women will start paying more attention to fabric. Everybody looks at the price and silk is expensive. One of our designers does all silk gowns. It’s not one of our biggest sellers, but we love to carry it.”

Domingo notes that it’s not only the gown, but accessories that brides-to-be will covet.

After Chelsea Clinton’s wedding last summer, in which she wore a crystal-studded belt, she said, “All the designers had some kind of belt product they were carrying, sold with the gown or without. Elements of what Kate wears may stand out, and designers might pull aspects of it apart and sell it.

“I’m excited. I feel so dorky but I want to see it.”

But for the long term, the dress is less important than the emotions and romance associated with the day.

Agsalud said, “If a bride feels beautiful, it doesn’t matter what she wears, because she will exude that. If she feels beautiful, she’ll be beautiful, and that’s how it is.”
For additional coverage, including Associated Press Twitter feeds and live streaming of the wedding service and festivities, see the special Royal Wedding section at

What makes a dream wedding?

It starts with the ultimate dream wedding gown.

A vision of love, hope and joy.

I liked the idea of draping and molding textures of silk jersey on the body. I originally thought of strips wrapped to contour the top to flow on the bottom. Each seam would be jeweled with graduated pearls.

Then the concept of including jeweled lace in an untraditional way excited me. So I cut away the bottom in a diagonal with lace, no lining, and added gold and silver trim for anticipated royalty and cut the bodice low with lace lining for youth. The shoulder detail with lace, tulle and pearls demonstrate respect for the past. A formal train of tulle with pearls and veil add drama.

— Amos Kotomori, designer


» Kate Middleton wedding gown designs envisioned by 52 “Project Runway” designers can be viewed at

» Watch the Associated Press’ live stream of the royal wedding at The wedding service starts at midnight tonight Hawaii time.

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