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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Revealed: Kate's 'secret meetings' with dress designer in Henry VIII's favourite palace

By Valerie Elliott

Secret: Kate was so determined to keep the details of her dress a secret that she had secret meetings with Sarah Burton at Hampton Court

Kate held clandestine meetings with wedding dress designer Sarah Burton at Henry VIII’s favourite palace, it has been claimed.

She was so determined to keep details about the dress a secret until her wedding day that she discussed ideas with Mrs Burton in a temporary studio at Hampton Court Palace in South-West London

Fashion-industry sources close to Mrs Burton, the creative director of British brand Alexander McQueen, say the tourist attraction was chosen because it offered both privacy and proximity to the Royal School of Needlework.

Grand: A temporary studio was set up at Hampton Court Palace because it offered both privacy and proximity to the Royal School of Needlework

The school is situated in the east wing of the palace and was commissioned to provide lace for Kate’s wedding gown and shoes.

Hampton Court was also a convenient stop-over as Kate travelled between her family home in Bucklebury, Berkshire, and Prince William’s apartment, which he shares with Prince Harry, at St James’s Palace.

Clarence House has always acknowledged that the new Duchess of Cambridge wished to keep her dress and its designer a surprise.

However, the full extent of the cloak-and-dagger operation became clear only yesterday, with the disclosure that even the network of embroiderers who handcrafted the lace were not told the name of the designer.

They found out it was for the Royal Wedding just minutes before Kate arrived at Westminster Abbey.

Acclaim: Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton, pictured with Samantha Cameron. She was chosen because of the fashion house's beauty of its craftsmanship and respect for the technical construction of clothing

Lifting the veil: Burton makes the final adjustments to ensure her dress is seen at its best at Westminster Abbey

Duty calls: Burton was on-hand to ensure every last detail was perfect for Kate's walk down the aisle

Dedicated: Embroiderers washed their hands every 30 minutes while making the lace to ensure it was pristine. Needles were replaced every three hours to keep them sharp and clean

Yet what most people will remember about their first glimpse of the bride is the finely executed hand-made lace swathing her shoulders and bodice – a credit to the embroidery team.

The sight of Kate in the exquisite dress prompted Prince William to draw breath at the altar and say to her: ‘You look beautiful.’

Many commentators have likened the simple, classic style of the gown to that worn by Grace Kelly in 1956, who, like Kate, was a commoner who ¬married a prince.

The lace applique, which featured the four floral emblems of the UK – rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock – was made using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s.

Part-time needle-workers, aged 19 to 70, laboured tirelessly to complete the order. The process is so time-consuming that it takes even experienced stitchers about an hour to sew an inch.

The dedicated embroiderers washed their hands every 30 minutes while making the lace to ensure it was pristine and replaced their needles every three hours to keep them sharp and clean.

Mrs Burton sourced a series of lace motifs to create a unique design. Each motif, some as small as a five-pence piece, was then crafted with minute stitches every two to three millimetres.

Kate clearly had her own ideas for her bridal gown and the ivory and white satin gazar, long-sleeved dress was the result of a friendly collaboration between the Duchess and Mrs Burton, a popular choice among fashionistas.

The 32-year-old began working with the late Alexander McQueen in 1996 as an intern while she studied at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London.

She quickly impressed and by the time of his suicide last February, she was widely regarded as his second-in-command.

source: dailymail


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