How They Did It: Meghan Markle’s Wedding Look
As millions gathered around their televisions across the world, we waited and wondered how the ceremony of American-born royalty would unfold. Some of the most memorable moments from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s royal wedding was certainly surrounding what she wore.
With my alarm and television set, I watched the newly crowned Duchess of Sussex walk down the aisle of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018. Givenchy’s artistic director Clare Waight Keller designed her regal wedding gown, and renowned makeup artist Daniel Martin created her simply beautiful look.
Before we discuss fashion and makeup details, we have to ask a question: who is Meghan Markle and why is she so relatable? From the time Prince Harry and Markle were engaged, their relationship was contrary to royal norms. Markle is an American, and her mother is black. She’s an active feminist and an actress. And perhaps most non-traditional of all, she’s divorced.
The answer might just lie in the perfect storm created by the blending of Markle’s personality into the makeup and wedding gown design created for her royal introduction to the waiting world.
The house of Givenchy is a French label, created by Hubert de Givenchy in 1952. In 2017, Clare Keller made history when she was named Givenchy’s first female artistic director. Keller began her career in fashion at Calvin Klein in New York as a stylist for the women’s ready-to-wear line before moving to Ralph Lauren, designing for their Purple Label.
In 2000, she was hired by Tom Ford to join Gucci, responsible for women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, until her departure in 2004. The following year, she became artistic director of Pringle of Scotland, where she received the Scottish Fashion Awards’ Designer of the Year in the cashmere category in 2007. She resigned from her position at Pringle of Scotland in 2011 before moving to Paris where she became the artistic director of Chloé. It was after her monumental rise to Givenchy that Keller learned she would be making history yet again by designing Meghan Markle’s wedding gown.
“I’m just thrilled that it would happen in my first year,” Keller told InStyle. “Because for the house itself, to have had this kind of thing happen has completely changed people’s perception of Givenchy.”
The full picture of Markle’s stunning wedding aesthetic wouldn’t come into view, however, without another very important artist.
Born to a French father and Vietnamese mother, renowned makeup artist Daniel Martin was raised in four different countries and four different states before the age of 15. He got his start with the legendary Pat McGrath, and went on to land contracts as a Dior brand ambassador and Honest Beauty’s creative color consultant. He’s worked with celebrities including Chrissy Teigen, Jessica Alba, Elisabeth Moss and, of course, Meghan Markle, whom he met during her days acting in USA’s television drama “Suits”. Martin is well-known for his ability to enhance the natural beauty of his subjects, and Markle was no different.
“The last thing you want [is] to look at your wedding pictures and go, ‘Remember when highlighting was the rage?’” Martin told InStyle. “At the end of the day, you want to look like your best self.”
By the time the anticipated wedding started, it was evident that the particulars of the royal ceremony wouldn’t be traditional. First, Markle walked down the aisle to a captive audience of 600 onlookers before being joined by Prince Charles. Additionally, an American Episcopal bishop named Michael Curry officiated the address &mdash something totally out of the norm. A soulful gospel choir rendered songs of jubilation that reminded me of my own Sunday worship experience.
Every step had a Hollywood edge complemented with a touch of royal tradition, which is appropriate from a fashion point of view. Givenchy, after all, was the house made famous by Audrey Hepburn, a British actress who became something of American royalty through her work in Hollywood. Many of the guests, including Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams, reflected this level of idol and celebrity. Markle’s dress had a Hepburn touch, perhaps in acknowledgement to her former acting career.
“I knew I had to get everything ready in the morning,” Keller said of the wedding day. “Prepare the dress, make sure it was steamed, make sure everything was perfect and where it needed to be at the right time.”
Here are the (seamless) details on the now famous wedding gown. It was simple and pure. It was not a fairytale choice, but one that placed the bride front and center. It underscored Markle’s own independence while revering tradition. It also celebrated female strength in the rigorous nature of its design aesthetic. Modest but elegant, the Givenchy Haute Couture gown had a bateau neckline, three-quarter-length sleeves and an underskirt of triple silk organza.
The tiara holding the bride’s veil in place was on loan from Queen Elizabeth II herself. Dating back to 1932, the diamond bandeau originally belonged to Queen Mary, wife of King George V.
The best moment of the day had to be what I deemed the “Sparkle Markle” Moment. This was the moment in which Prince Harry could be heard telling his bride, “You look amazing,” a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. In that moment, Markle’s happiness was only enhanced by the work Martin had done with her makeup.
“I know exactly what she does and doesn’t like,” Martin said afterward. “After the ceremony Harry kept saying thank you. He was thanking me for making her look like herself.”
In the end, the Duchess of Sussex Markle brought change and out-witted us all, not only in her dress and makeup but in her entire wedding ceremony. Long may such smart symbolism reign.
Dr. Courtney Hammond Fashion Editor