By Sarah Mills
LONDON (Reuters) – For the fashion world, when American actress Meghan Markle joins the British royal family in less than two months’ time when she marries Prince Harry, there is only one issue that matters – who will design her wedding gown?
British newspapers have been rife with rumors that she has chosen the dress and already attended her first fitting, although royal officials are keeping such details a tightly guarded secret.
“We have not put out a statement, nor commented on the wedding dress,” a spokeswoman for Harry’s office said.
The choice of wedding gown designer has prompted much speculation in newspapers and magazines ever since Harry, the fifth-in-line to the throne, and Markle, 36, announced their engagement last November.
“I think she’ll definitely wear a UK designer,” Bojana Sentaler, founder and creative director of Canadian label Sentaler, told Reuters. “I’m not sure which one but I think it’ll be a UK designer.”
One of those whose name has been suggested is Stella McCartney, who was behind British human rights lawyer Amal Clooney’s cream-colored trouser suit for her civil marriage ceremony to U.S. actor George Clooney, as well as the coat Markle wore on a visit to Cardiff earlier this year.
“A wedding is a wedding, it’s a beautiful honor and privilege to do anyone’s wedding dress,” a smiling McCartney told Reuters when asked if she would like to design Markle’s outfit.
“I’ve always loved working on wedding dresses and they’re always varied because you have to be really personal about it, you have to really look at the woman and the day,” said McCartney, who shares Markle’s ethical design and animal cruelty-free stance.
British-Australian brand Ralph & Russo is another that has been mentioned a possible contender for the job after Markle chose a dress made by the duo for her official engagement portraits with Harry.
That dress, and the location of the wedding, Queen Elizabeth’s Windsor Castle home to the west of London, might also serve as a good indication of what’s to be expected, said Anna McGregor, curator of the London luxury wedding department store, The Wedding Gallery.
“Well, you always have to think about the venue because the dress has to be appropriate for the venue that you’re getting married in and of course she’s getting married in the chapel at Windsor. So you need to find something that’s going to work for that location,” she said.
“I think that the Ralph & Russo she wore for the engagement shoot was such a perfect look on her.”
For fashion brands, having apparel seen on a member of Britain’s royal family can lead to a spike in sales. Prince William’s wife Kate has become a fashion icon since she married Harry’s elder brother in 2011, with huge interest in her choice of outfits for official engagements.
British retailer Marks & Spencer received a publicity boost in January when Markle was photographed wearing one of its 45-pound ($62) jumpers during a visit to a London radio station.
Similarly, Canadian luxury outerwear brand Sentaler got a lift from the actress in December 2017 when she was pictured wearing one of the label’s coats to a Christmas church service attended by the royal family.
The public, and the fashion world, are expected to have to wait until May 19, the day of the wedding, to find out who the designer is. Whichever brand she chooses, nothing should steal the limelight from the bride said Chinese-born, London-based designer Huishan Zhang.
“The whole thing is really creating a relationship with you and the bride, no matter the bride who is she, right?” he said.
“You serve for the bride, for that occasion, it’s her special day, you should just treat her as a person, as a bride, who is seeking for a beautiful dress for once in her lifetime.”
(Reporting by Helena Williams and Johnny Cotton; writing by Hanna Rantala; editing by Stephen Addison)