Meghan Markle left her mark on royal wedding fashion history when she said “I do” to Prince Harry in her iconic Givenchy wedding dress on May 19, 2018. The bride’s long-sleeve dress with a bateau neckline made headlines everywhere and led to many copycat designs. The mastermind behind the historic ensemble? Clare Waight Keller.
Four years later, the first female artistic director of French fashion house Givenchy is reflecting on the experience of creating the gown. In the latest episode of Harry & Meghan, which premiered on Thursday, December 15, 2022, on Netflix, Keller opens up about the pressure she felt to nail the piece. “Looking at the design of the dress, there were many conversations about how you want to present yourself to the world,” she explains in the docuseries. “Most of us have a wedding with 70 to 100 people. This was billions of people watching. It has to be flawless. It has to be perfect.”
After Meghan stepped out in the Givenchy design, people around the world praised the dress for its elegance and simplicity. In 2019, the British stylist and fashion designer was honored at the Time 100 gala, where she revealed that she was shocked the gown she made received so much attention. “I had no idea how momentous it was going to be,” the designer admits. “The last time there was a royal wedding, there was no Instagram really or any of those huge social networks, so it really took me aback actually.” At the gala, Keller told Time why she thought the ensemble was so well received. “The idea of that purity was just really modern,” she says. “It think it was right for now, and it was right for her.”
In another interview with Paris Match, the British designer and stylist said designing the dress took 3,900 hours and required eight dress fittings. She also discussed what it was like working so closely with the royal, whom she referred to as a “strong woman who knows exactly what she wants.” “We very quickly agreed on the perfect dress,” Keller noted. “I wanted a modern and fresh silhouette while respecting her style. It is an immense honor to have worked closely with Meghan and to have lived by her side for all these special moments.” Even Harry was thrilled with the result. “Prince Harry came to me and said, ‘Oh my God,. Thank you. She is absolutely magnificent,’” she recalls. “I am very proud. It’s a fairy tale, a dream come true.”
The bride paired the elegant dress with a cathedral-length veil that was 16 feet long and took over 500 hours to create, according to Us Weekly. The accessory featured lace trim with floral embroidery that represented all 53 countries in the British Commonwealth. The meaning behind the veil was something that the pair worked on executing together. “We wanted to create a timeless piece that would emphasize the iconic codes of Givenchy throughout its history as well as convey modernity through sleek lines and sharp cuts,” Keller said at the time. “In contrast, the delicate floral beauty of the veil was a vision Meghan and I shared, a special gesture embracing the commonwealth flora, ascending the circumference of the silk tulle.”