Wedding dress designers brace for ‘Pippa Middleton effect’



What do Pippa Middleton and Rebecca Judd have in common? Aside from their petite physiques not much, although both their wedding dresses are driving trends for ordinary Australian brides.

Less than 48 hours after the marriage of Ms Middleton to James Matthews, Melbourne bridal couturiers are already bracing for the “Pippa effect”.

Newlyweds Pippa and James leave church

Pippa Middleton and her new husband James Matthews wave to the crowds as they leave their wedding ceremony on Saturday.

The Duchess of Cambridge’s sister wore a Giles Deacon design with a high neck, capped sleeves and hand-appliqued silk-cotton lace to create a seamless look.

Bridal couturier Helen Manuell said she expected brides to request elements of Pippa’s dress in coming months.

“They’re chasing that demure look but still wanting it to be fashion forward. The beauty about where that capped sleeve was cut was you could see the incredible muscle on her arms. She has an amazing athletic body, but the sleeve was very much, ‘Hello, look at me,’ ” she said.

However, Australian girls are only slowly moving towards a more covered silhouette, she said, with dresses along the lines of the strapless J’Aton gown Judd wore for her 2010 wedding still one of her most requested styles.

“A lot of the girls are not game enough to do [capped sleeves] in Australia. It’s lovely to be able to push someone outside their comfort zone.

“The high neck and cutout back [of Ms Middleton’s dress] … it’s not about what you can see, it’s about what you can’t see. Covering the shoulders and high neck can be so sexy.”

Manuell said Ms Middleton’s dress would have taken up to 100 hours to make. She said she would charge up to $15,000 for a similar design. Ms Middleton’s dress is rumoured to have cost $70,000.

At Raffaele Ciuca, a boutique stocking many international brands, operations manager Richelle Whittaker expects copies of the Pippa dress to land within months.

“The Middleton sisters have pushed us towards a more traditional view of wedding dresses,” she said.

“We’re coming out of a season of lots of plunging necklines. We saw [socialite and hotel heiress] Nicky Hilton do a similar high neckline … we are only now going to see it more.

She said that after Kate Middleton married Prince William, the store received more requests for lower necklines and long sleeves.

The bridal world is also watching out for photos of Pippa Middleton’s “party dress”, which could also set trends.

Ms Whittaker said about 20 per cent of brides have two dresses – one for the ceremony and one for the reception.

“There’s a lot of emphasis on having fun at the reception. If it’s a dress like Pippa’s, then it would take a lot of bustling. I would be interested to see what the second gown is.”

While the two-dress trend has been on the rise for some time, Ms Middleton may have sparked a new trend by asking her guests to bring a change of outfit, presumably so they could kick up their heels at the after-party. 


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