Every dress tells a story, and Catherine Middleton's wedding dress tells one of a new generation of royalty building on British traditions and of the elegance and modernity of a young bride. Inside the Abbey, before she embarked on her walk down the aisle, Middleton paused for an adjustment, and in a flash, the months-long guessing game of who designed her dress was over. Sarah Burton, the creative director of the Alexander McQueen label, darted out from a side aisle and quickly smoothed the 9-ft.-long (2.7 m) train, a last-minute tweak that inadvertently confirmed her role in the making of one of the decade's most anticipated dresses.
Burton, 36, who assisted the late Alexander McQueen for 14 years before taking over the label after the designer's death in February 2010, called the assignment "the experience of a lifetime" and described the dress as "marrying traditional fabrics and lacework with a modern structure and design." With a silhouette reminiscent of a 16th century dress, the McQueen design is remarkably streamlined. And of course, every detail was local: the lace appliqué was handmade by the Royal School of Needlework using an old Irish lacemaking technique. Burton incorporated the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock into the lace. The veil, very simple, was topped by the Queen's halo tiara. Upon seeing his bride for the first time, Prince William whispered, "You look beautiful." Long live McQueen!