The image: Who would design the Royal Wedding dress? Earlier this morning, after months of second-guessing, came the big reveal: Catherine ("Kate") Middleton wore a "magnificent dress" by Sarah Burton, the 36-year-old creative director of the British luxury label Alexander McQueen. There was a clear precedent, commentators agreed: With its long lace sleeves, sculpted bodice, sweetheart-neckline, and a nearly 9-foot train, the gown (see full image below) evoked Grace Kelly's 1956 marriage to Prince Rainer of Monaco. The bride, who also wore a hand-embroidered veil and tiara lent to her by the Queen, had kept the dress a closely guarded secret from both the snoopy fashion press and her husband-to-be. As she approached, best man Prince Harry reportedly whispered to his brother: "Wait 'til you see her."
The reaction: "Fabulous, fashionable and fairytale, the dress was fit for a queen-to-be and combined the style of a modern princess with that of a 20th Century princess, namely Grace Kelly, one of Diana, Princess of Wales's early champions," says Hilary Alexander in the Telegraph. Yes, but the message is clear, says Jess Cartner-Morley in The Guardian. Catherine conjured Kelly to look "every bit the princess, but nothing at all like Princess Diana." In doing so, she's stepped out of Di's shadow with a dress that is far from the "overblown, Dynasty-esque glamor" of her husband's late mother. Indeed, "Catherine has followed her own taste," says Sarah Mower at Vogue. The result is "an exquisitely modern example of a personal collaboration between a bride and her designer" and a fashion fantasy come true.