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Royal Wedding Dress: Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen

April 29, 2011 |  3:08 am

Sara

After weeks of speculation that at times has verged on the absurd, we now know that Kate Middleton has chosen a wedding gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Although the gown is modest in silk gazar with long, intricate Chantilly lace sleeves, it represents the grandest British fashion gesture the young royal could have made.

British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, for one, has been campaigning for the designer for months, with plenty of other fashion insiders joining the chorus.

Photo gallery: Royal wedding coverage

Burton took over as creative director of the label after McQueen's suicide last year. She joined the brand in 1996 as an intern, and was appointed the head of design for women's wear in 2000. She showed her first runway collection for Alexander McQueen in Paris in October 2010. And she has managed to temper McQueen's severe styles and tortured vision with a new femininity and ease.

It's been reported that Middleton chose the designer after being impressed with the strapless wedding gown McQueen himself designed for fashion journalist Sara Buys in 2005. McQueen began his career apprenticing on Savile Row, where legend has it he sewed a subversive message into the sleeve of a jacket destined for Prince Charles. His collections were often inspired by history, both the majesty and the macabre, including the Salem Witch Trials and the famous Highland Rape collection, inspired by the 1746 Battle of Culloden in Scotland.

Burton has long been tipped to be the designer of the gown, but incredibly, the identity was kept a secret, with a new contender mentioned nearly every day. Middleton's choice is a stunning tribute to the late designer, who was a creative genius. It was also auspicious timing. A retrospective exhibition of McQueen's work, titled "Savage Beauty," is set to open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on Wednesday.

-- Booth Moore

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Photo: Kate Middleton is accompanied by maid of honour Pippa Middleton, right, as she arrives at Westminster Abbey at the Royal Wedding. Credit: Alastair Grant / Associated Press.

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