Princess Beatrice seemed to have gleaned inspiration from her three years studying at one of the UK’s most respected art colleges, as she arrived at the royal wedding Westminster Abbey service wearing a daring hat designed by Irish milliner Philip Treacy. Alas, the sartorial gamble failed to pay off, with internet polls and Facebook sites admonishing the style of the princess, who is entering her final term of history and history of ideas at Goldsmiths College. “Princess Beatrice’s Hat: Worst Ever?” screamed the Huffington Post, and its readers agreed with over 70 per cent of them clicking on the “Yes, it was truly horrendous” option.
Personally, I clicked on “No, I’ve seen worse”, the only alternative. The beige headpiece that covered her forehead and reached upwards certainly wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but it was brave step away from the fascinator: that feathery, wispy apology of a hat the princesses (and the Middletons) usually wear to weddings.
Samantha Cameron made almost as controversial decision by deciding to eschew a hat entirely. Instead she wore a simple hair decoration by Erdem Moralioglu, the Bethnal Green-based designer whose work has been spotted on Keira Knightley and Sarah Brown. SamCam’s green dress was by Burberry and her shoes were from high-street chain Aldo.
The Beckhams were a dashing couple – Victoria’s bump expertly attired in one of her own designs – and Tara Palmer Tomkinson managed to draw attention from her collapsed-through-cocaine-use nose by sporting a gutsy, royal blue ensemble and wide smile. Like Princess Beatrice, Palmer Tomkinson’s hat was by Philip Treacy; indeed the Galway man is said to have made 38 creations for the big day.
The bride arrived exactly on time and all eyes were on the “commoner” from Buckleberry as she made her way down the aisle to her Prince William at 11am. “I thought she looked perfect, it was so simple and so beautiful,” a woman wearing the East End uniform of Breton stripes and top-knotted hair told me outside Hackney hangout The Cat and Mutton last night.
“It was plain, but amazing, “ whispered another. “I loved the pleats in the skirt and the corset fitted so well.”
The dress – which was probably the most speculated about in history – had remained an exciting mystery right up until the last minute. “My girlfriend works for McQueen and I had begged her to tell me if they were doing the dress,” a Cat and Mutton drinker told me last night. “But she didn’t say anything; she kept it a secret all along.”
And it was the best-kept secret in fashion, an industry known for its love of gossip. The dress was, as we all know by now, by Sarah Burton who is head designer of Alexander McQueen, the fashion house founded by the late East End visionary Lee McQueen. It was a perfectly judged, beautifully embroidered affair that echoed the wedding dress worn by that other “commoner” who married a prince, Grace Kelly. Kate Middleton – or the Duchess of Cambridge as she is now known – did her own make-up, but opted for a professional manicure and blow dry.
Her sister also wore a white dress by McQueen. Usually other guests avoid white so as to not upstage the bride, and Pippa Middleton did come perilously close to doing just that. The sleek dress skimmed her oh-so-perfect figure and she managed an attractive air of jollity and calmness, qualities not often associated with stressed maids of honour.
She was trending on Twitter almost as soon as she gathered up her sister’s two-metre train on their way into the Abbey. Even philosophers weighed in on the Pippa love with Alain de Botton tweeting something like: “There are women who men think are beautiful and there are women who men want to sleep with. Kate vs Pippa.” I am forced to paraphrase because the married author deleted his musings after just a few moments.
I’m slightly concerned that Kate will return to her play-it-safe ways when it comes to style but I hold out hope that she embraces London designers when on her royal duties. It would be hard to return to the knee-high boots and A-line skirts she favours after the triumph of yesterday.