April 29, 2011 -- Not only a day to laud the love of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, today's wedding was also a venerable fashion spectacle.
With all eyes on the royals, the family had carefully coordinated its clothing ensembles. "This was a fashion orchestration," said "Project Runway" style guru Tim Gunn. "It doesn't just happen."
Although the focus was on the newlyweds, Gunn said the queen's choice of a yellow dress made it clear that the royal family orbits around its leader.
"You could see color hierarchy," Gunn explained. "The queen was a metaphor for the sun. Camilla, Carole Middleton, other royal family members were in neutral colors, so as not to compete."
Despite the planning and wardrobe orchestration, Gunn believed both Princess Royal Anne's and Duchess Camilla's ensembles missed the mark.
Gunn found Anne's outfit "preposterous. … She looked like a garden salad, coleslaw."
Instead of wearing her "unsightly" green dress, Gunn wondered, "If she is so anti-fashion, why not go the neutral route and disappear?"
Despite Camilla's neutral-colored ensemble, Gunn found the big box pleats on her dress and jacket "unflattering, chunky and unfeminine." But he praised her "diaphanous, translucent" hat -- a laudable counterpoint to what he said was her ill-advised clothing. "It was sinuous, and made the look."
When Gunn saw Prince William's intricate Irish Guard tunic in a bold crimson, the fashion expert saw it as a forecast of what Kate might wear. "It demanded that Kate had to compete with this," Gunn said.
And compete she did.
Gunn had nothing but praise for the newly named duchess of Cambridge, and her wedding dress. In describing her look, Gunn kept repeating the word "ravishing." When asked to expand on this, he said, "Simply, she took my breath away."
While Kate's wedding dress has been compared to the one worn by Princess Grace, who married Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco in 1956, Gunn said Kate's "couldn't have been more modern." Whereas Grace's dress had modest lace up to her chin, Kate's look was all opened up, revealing a demure bit of cleavage. It was "stunningly paired with the exuberance of the skirt," said Gunn.
Even though Kate's fashion eye is drawn to minimalism, she knew she had to sustain attention for a four-minute walk down the red-carpeted aisle of Westminster Abbey, which explained her full skirt and elaborate lace bodice.
Her sister, Phillippa "Pippa" Middleton, wore a simple column silhouette that reflected "what people thought Kate would look like," said Gunn. "Had that been on Kate, we would have been disappointed."
Gunn said some fashion experts would no doubt question Kate's dress design. "There will always be detractors at events on this scale."
But the clothing on view at today's royal wedding is sure to influence trends across the world, an exciting prospect for anyone interested in cultivating a current wardrobe. "I maintain," Gunn said, wrapping up the day, "it doesn't get any better than this."