LONDON — There was tradition and modernity, sober styles and touches of whimsy: the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton showcased Britain's fashion roots, as well as the claim it's staking at the forefront of haute couture.
All eyes, of course, were on the bride's dress — and it immediately became the stuff that dreams are made of.
The gown, whose details were kept secret until Middleton stepped out of the Goring Hotel to travel to Westminster Abbey, was a magnificent ivory confection with lace floral detail designed by Britain's Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen.
A plunging neckline added an edgy touch to an otherwise traditional dress with lace-covered sleeves that ended at the wrists. Her hair was half up, half down, lightly curled and decorated with a tiara. She wore drop earrings.
"The dress itself was a glorious mix of modernity with a hint of historic reference and a wonderful silhouette to complement the architectural beauty of the abbey," said Avril Graham, Harper's Bazaar executive fashion and beauty editor.
Maid of honor Pippa Middleton wore a simple cream column dress also with a deep neckline, and naturally styled hair. Her bridal tones and sashaying walk down the aisle behind her sister caught the eye of several commentators.
"Her dress was exceptionally fitted, and it was basically white," said Mark Niemierko, a wedding planner who has organized some of London's most extravagant nuptials. "For a bridesmaid that's always been a no-no but I think the idea could really catch on."
The flower girls also were decked out in cream dresses with full skirts and flowers in their hair.
Queen Elizabeth II looked stately yet cheerful in a primrose Angela Kelly dress and matching hat.
Carole Middleton, the bride's mother, wore a sky blue wool crepe coatdress with matching satin piping over a sky blue silk shantung day dress. Both were designed by the Catherine Walker label. Middleton's hat was created by British designer Jane Corbett.
Middleton often dresses youthfully like her daughters, but on wedding day she looked very much the matriarch.
The duchess of Cornwall wore a champagne silk dress and a duck egg blue and champagne coat by Anna Valentine, along with a Philip Treacy hat and Jimmy Choo shoes. Anna Valentine designed Camilla's dress for her 2005 wedding to Prince Charles.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's wife Miriam Gonzalez Duantez — a Spanish attorney — sent tongues wagging with a body-hugging dress draped with lace and a red hat but most guests were more conservative, wearing simple suits and knee length dresses in pastels and blues. Jewelry was understated, too — small earrings and strings of pearls.
On their heads however, guests wore a riot of color, sculpture and design.
Irish designer Treacy made most of the hats for royals attending the wedding — 36 in all that included creations for Prince Charles' wife, the duchess of Cornwall, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Princess Michael of Kent, Queen Anna-Marie of Greece and Princess Mathilde of Belgium.