British designer who created Meghan’s wedding dress kept it secret

British designer who created Meghan’s wedding dress kept it secret from her husband and three children

  • Birmingham-born designer Clare Waight Keller made Meghan’s wedding dress
  • She could not even tell her husband or three children that she had been chosen 
  • The people helping were only told what they had been making on the day itself  

It was the most closely guarded secret of the Royal Wedding.

So closely guarded, in fact, that Birmingham-born designer Clare Waight Keller, 47, could not even tell her husband or three children that she had been chosen to make Meghan Markle’s wedding dress.

Meghan, with a beanie hat pulled firmly down over her face, would secretly visit Clare in an anonymous Chelsea townhouse for fittings, instead of going to her main studio.

Not even the people helping to make the dress were told what they had been beavering away on until the day of the ceremony itself.

But, for Mrs Waight Keller, the secrecy was worth it when Prince Harry made a beeline for her at the wedding reception on Saturday and told her: ‘Oh my God, thank you. She [Meghan] looks absolutely stunning.’

Clare Waight Keller, 47, could not even tell her husband or three children that she had been chosen to make Meghan Markle’s wedding dress

Meghan would secretly visit Clare in an anonymous Chelsea townhouse for fittings

On the day itself, Mrs Waight Keller acted as an unofficial maid of honour, helping to adjust Meghan’s train and veil so that it would be showed off to perfection

Not even the people helping to make the dress were told what they had been beavering away on until the day of the ceremony itself

It was, she said, ‘truly a secret Meghan and I shared’. And yesterday, Mrs Waight Keller, who juggles her job as artistic director at Givenchy with being a mother, admitted that the dress, lauded for its strong, simple lines, had been the result of a ‘collaborative’ effort between her and Meghan.

‘[Meghan’s] a strong woman. She knows what she wants and, really, it was an absolute joy working with her,’ said the designer. ‘She is exactly what you see on TV. She is so genuine and warm and radiant. She is just glowing.’

The process on the dress, which is estimated to have cost around £200,000, began in December, when Mrs Waight Keller met Meghan. But she did not find out she had the most coveted commission of the year until early January.

Apparently, the actress was impressed with her elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring and relaxed demeanour.

Her small team at Givenchy worked flat out on the design, which she and Meghan hoped would encapsulate a sense of ‘timelessness’.

Such was the attention to detail that an exclusive double-bonded silk cady (a two or three-ply silk) fabric was specially created to ensure the gown had a round, sculptured look.

The five-metre silk tulle veil was so delicate that the workers, who spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing on 53 flowers of the Commonwealth and two of Meghan’s own choosing, had to wash their hands every 30 minutes to keep the fabric pristine.

For Mrs Waight Keller, the secrecy was worth it when Prince Harry made a beeline for her at the wedding reception on Saturday and told her: ‘Oh my God, thank you. She [Meghan] looks absolutely stunning.’

The five-metre silk tulle veil was so delicate that the workers, who spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing on 53 flowers of the Commonwealth and two of Meghan’s own choosing, had to wash their hands every 30 minutes to keep the fabric pristine

The process on the dress, which is estimated to have cost around £200,000, began in December

Mrs Waight Keller admitted that the dress, lauded for its strong, simple lines, had been the result of a ‘collaborative’ effort between her and Meghan

Mrs Waight Keller said: ‘It was an incredible thing to be part of, such a historic moment and, in fact, to have the opportunity to work with her.

‘I think she loved the fact that I was a British designer and working in a house such as Givenchy, which has its roots in a classical, beautiful style.’

Mrs Waight Keller first offered up a series of sketches, but said she and Meghan quickly got to the point where it evolved into the final design.

‘She just loved it, absolutely loved it,’ the designer said of Meghan’s reaction.

Of the stunning 16 ft veil, Mrs Waight Keller said that Meghan was ‘thrilled’.

She explained why the seamstresses had to keep their hands scrupulously clean: ‘When you work on something of such purity, absolute pure white, you need to keep it immaculately clean. So, when you are doing embroidery, you need to keep your hands very fresh.

‘There were many people involved in the workmanship and, obviously, it took an enormous amount of hours to do it.’

The idea to embroider each of the 53 Commonwealth flowers on to the veil was the designer’s idea, after long discussions with Meghan, who wanted to include a tribute to the ‘Family of Nations’ that will be such a central part of her new life, working on behalf of the Queen.

‘There was a conversation early on about the story that we were going to tell through this wedding,’ she said. ‘And the fact she and Prince Harry will be working a lot in the Commonwealth was something that could be built on.’

It was Meghan, however, who came up with the idea for the simple, but utterly enchanting, little bridesmaids’ outfits.

Mrs Waight Keller said: ‘It was an incredible thing to be part of, such a historic moment and, in fact, to have the opportunity to work with her’

Meghan would secretly visit Clare in an anonymous Chelsea townhouse for fittings

She explained: ‘[Meghan] wanted something that would echo the simplicity of her dress. Just something that really captures their innocence and purity.

‘They were so well-behaved and they looked absolutely gorgeous.’

On the day itself, Mrs Waight Keller acted as an unofficial maid of honour, helping to adjust Meghan’s train and veil so that it would be showed off to perfection as it was carried by twin page boys Brian and John Mulroney, seven.

Mrs Waight Keller said she was moved beyond belief to see Meghan so happy in her design.

‘I saw her after the service and she was radiant,’ she recalled. ‘I was thrilled to be part of it.’

British designer Stella McCartney also spoke yesterday of her pride at making the slinky halterneck gown Meghan wore to her evening reception.

‘I am so proud and honoured to have been chosen by the Duchess of Sussex to make her evening gown and represent British design,’ she said.

‘It has truly been one of the most humbling moments of my career and I am so proud of all the team on this stunning, sunny royal day.’

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