May 2, 2011
Kate's wedding dress recreated in just five hours
May 2, 2011
April 30 - Barely five hours after Kate began her drive to Westminster Abbey to marry Prince William, a family tailoring firm in London had put the final touches to a replica of her wedding dress.
The bride Kate Middleton arrives at Westminster Abbey for her wedding ceremony with Prince William in London, Britain, 29 April 2011
The Alexander McQueen gown worn by the new Duchess of Cambridge was one of the highlights of the royal wedding and copies are expected to be made across the world.
But the bride may have been surprised at how fast the work began.
"As soon as she was in the car, we started to identify what the lace was like and try to find as close a copy as possible," said Raul Echeverria, owner of Alterations Boutique in Marylebone.
When she stepped out of the Rolls-Royce in front of the abbey a few minutes later, revealing the full Alexander McQueen gown of ivory satin and lace, the team went into overdrive.
"We looked at the pictures on the television screen and once we identified what fabric we required, then we went to our suppliers and tried to match the fabrics," Echeverria told AFP.
They ordered ten metres (33 feet) of lining, ten metres of tulle for the veil, ten metres of netting, 15 metres of satin and four metres of lace, at a cost approaching £1,000 ($1,700, 1,300 euros).
"At the same time our designers were creating a pattern for the dress, and we put it all together. It took us about five hours to complete the project," said the 34-year-old.
The dress was commissioned by The Times newspaper, and will be offered to a reader in a competition. But the boutique, which Echeverria's mother Maria Blazquez founded 30 years ago, has already been asked to make more.
"We have had enquiries already regarding the dress," the owner said, but insisted: "It wasn't about making money, it was about the skills and proving that anything can be done. It was a fantastic challenge."
He added: "Obviously I'd have to talk to my lawyer first to be sure I'm not breaking any copyright rules!"
He is not the only one to get in on the act -- replicas of Kate's dress are expected to hit the high street as early as next week.
When Diana married Prince Charles in 1981, copies of her dress were in the shops within hours, while Elizabeth Emanuel, who designed the fairytale gown with huge puff sleeves and a 7.6-metre (25-foot) train, is still asked to make reproductions.
In Marylebone, three people worked on different aspects of the garment at the same time, including hand-stitching the lace bodice which covered Kate's arms and was pulled down to the waist to create an elegant V-neckline.
Given the time constraints, the team could not match the lace exactly -- on Kate's dress, experts cut out hundreds of delicate lace flowers and sewed them onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique design.
Echeverria's team used a ready-made lace, although he said they would return to this aspect of the dress in the coming days to try to get a closer match -- providing, of course, the lawyers approve.
by Alice Ritchie
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