I can’t wait to hear who will fulfil this extraordinary commission. In the meantime, we present a list of ten possible designers – all British of course – who could make Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. Here are five of them, the other five will be published here on Monday:
1. Jasper Conran
A former British Designer of the Year and one of the most commercially successful, through his diffusion ranges for department store Debenhams, Jasper Conran shows his restrained and chic womenswear on the runway at London Fashion Week, and has been making beautiful wedding dresses for nearly thirty years. He has royal wedding experience too: he made the sophisticated and elegant dress that the Queen’s niece Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones wore for her marriage to Daniel Chatto in 1994 at the Church of St Stephen Walbrook in the City of London.
2. Vivienne Westwood
Once the enfant terrible of the British fashion industry, Dame Viv has mellowed with age. Where once her models wore no knickers under micro kilts and wobbled down the catwalk in eight-inch platforms, now her ravishing evening and wedding dresses are just as likely to be worn by pillars of the establishment as they are by rock stars or avant-garde artists.
3. Daniella Helayel of Issa
Previously an under the radar label known mostly for its flattering, slinky silk-jersey dresses, London-based Issa has suddenly become one of the most talked about labels in the world, thanks to the off the rack blue silk dress chosen for her engagement announcement by Kate Middleton. Issa’s Brazilian designer Daniella Helayel is being talked about as the front-runner for the wedding dress, having made bespoke wedding dresses for special clients, but we wonder whether her relaxed, flowing, sexy style is quite formal enough for the wedding of the decade, if not the century.
4. Bruce Oldfield
A treasured darling of the fashion establishment, Mr Oldfield has been designing under his own name since 1975. Raised in a Children’s Home by the charity Dr Barnado’s, he transcended his hard childhood to become one of Diana, Princess of Wales favourite designers, responsible for some of her most iconic outfits. Mr Oldfield does not show at London Fashion Week, and works mainly at couture level from his salons on London’s Beauchamp Place, making dresses for everyone from Rihanna to Joan Collins, as well as being responsible for the wedding outfits for Jemima Khan, and for the Prime Minister’s wife Samantha Cameron.
5. Elizabeth Emmanuel
In 1981 the dress that she and her then partner David Emmanuel designed for Diane, of Princess of Wales’ marriage to Prince Charles was romantic, spectacular and over the top, with its huge puffed sleeves, twenty-five foot train and billowing skirt made from taffeta silk woven on Britain’s Lullingstone silk farm. Since then Elizabeth has been responsible for designing the iconic scarlet Virgin Atlantic uniforms, dressed many celebrities, from Drew Barrymore to Jerry Hall. In 1990 the Emmanuel’s separated, and Elizabeth has continued to design both for private clients and for commercial collaborations. She has a new line called the Art of Being, which launched in September 2010.
(This list was created for VisitBritain by writer Sasha Wilkins, who blogs as LibertyLondonGirl. The thoughts of an English Fashion Editor in Manhattan on life, love, design, food & style.