— The race to the altar is on.
Kate had her princess bride moment — but for many brides, it's now all about getting the princess’s dress (or at least one that was inspired by it).
And there is big money in being first. Companies like ABS and Faviana that have built their reputations on providing celebrity-inspired designs — fast — started the production process the minute Middleton got into her car to drive to Westminster Abbey.
“We had people sketching the dress,” Allen B. Schwartz told TODAY.com. “They are making the pattern, and then we’ll cut the fabrics that we feel are like the dress.”
Just how fast will Schwartz turn around the Kate-inspired gown? “The first dress will be done by 4 p.m.," Los Angeles time.
That first dress will be for charity; Schwartz was asked by philanthropist Nancy Davis to create a gown inspired by Kate’s wedding dress to be auctioned at the gala for The 18th Annual Race to Erase MS, which takes place at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills Friday evening.
And on Monday, Schwartz will present a version of the dress at market appointments in New York City, where retailers can buy it to be sold in stores in three to four weeks' time, for between $600 and $700.
The Faviana version of the Kate Middleton dress will take a little longer to make it to stores — eight to 10 weeks — and will cost $1,500 to $2,000. “We will have a sample over the weekend,” explained Shala Moradi, partner in the family-owned business, who started sketching before dawn. “The dress was exactly what we thought it would be. It was a cross between Grace Kelly’s dress and the wedding dress from ‘The Sound of Music.’”
But if you’d rather not wait that long, chains such as David’s Bridal and Priscilla of Boston have you covered. David’s sent out a blast email featuring Middleton-inspired dresses a mere 90 minutes after the world first saw the dress. Priscilla’s blast followed, with four dresses that each featured elements of Kate's Sarah Burton-designed Alexander McQueen gown.
A true-to-the-original version will be forthcoming at David’s Bridal. “We’re definitely going to do a dress that’s similar,” explained Dan Rentillo, vice-president of design for the chain. “I really like the natural waist and then the bustle/peplum idea in the back. We will see covered arms — we did in the most recent bridal market — with illusion.
“This was a very traditional, classic dress,” Rentillo added. “It will be good for us.”
In fact, David's Bridal customers are already clamoring for Kate-style gowns. "We absolutely had brides making phone calls to the stores looking for similar dresses," said Brian Beitler, executive vice president and chief marketing officer. A lookalike dress posted on Facebook got brides clicking, too.
More than a just celebrity bride, Middleton is a bridal trendsetter. "Every bride in the store is talking about Kate and the dress," Beitler said. "Her influence will be felt for years to come. Our fascinators business has grown and then exploded. She popularized that business. Kate has the ability to modernize the princess look. We will see a resurgence of a traditional styles made modern."
But while J. Crew’s Tom Mora, vice president for bridal and special occasion, thought the dress was “exquisite,” he feels it may not translate for his customer.
“I thought she would go a little more modern,” Mora said. “The resurgence of lace is important, but we won’t do that dress — that’s not who we are. I was surprised at how classic it was.”
The lace itself will be almost impossible to copy. The Los Angeles Times reports that between the intricate details — rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock motifs — and the French Chantilly lace and English Cluny lace combined in the labor-intensive Carrickmacross needlework tradition, this dress will be tough to re-create exactly.
According to the report, “workers washed their hands every 30 minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, and the needles were renewed every three hours to keep them sharp and clean.”
But while it's unlikely most designers will invest that kind of effort, the trends will translate. Sleeves, lace details and a traditional silhouette accentuating the waist will make their way to the American market.
“The big statement is the simplicity,” bridal designer Reem Acra told TODAY.com. “She put a lot of thought into this dress, and I’m surprised about the ball skirt. I always want to keep the trend of fuller skirts going.”
“I’m happy she wore a traditional gown,” said Amsale Aberra, designer for Amsale. “My biggest fear was that she would walk out in a high fashion look that was unbelievable. The natural waist and full skirt was done in a way that brides will want. The takeaway from this dress is that there will be sleeves in coming seasons.”
“Brides have been looking for sleeves for a long time,” explained Mara Urshel, owner of Kleinfeld’s in New York City. “We will see more sleeves in the collections.
“She was classic and modern — a modernized version of Grace Kelly,” Urshel added.