Australian podcast hosts Isabelle Truman and Grace O’Neill of After Work Drinks have spoken with Alexandra Shulman, the longest serving editor-in-chief of British Vogue in their latest episode. In it, the magazine editor reveals she helped Kate Middleton arrive at her Alexander McQueen wedding dress.
“When Catherine Middleton, as she was known then, got engaged to Prince William, everyone was talking about what she was going to wear and what the wedding dress was going to be,” Shulman told Truman and O’Neill. “One day I got a phone call from somebody in her office asking if I would be prepared to just come in and have an informal chat about options. So, of course, I jumped at the opportunity as you can imagine. ‘No I think I’ll wash my hair that day’ [laughs].”
“I put together pictures of different designers that I thought might be good and got myself acquainted a bit with the bridal market because actually, it wasn’t something I really knew that much about,” she continued. “I toddled along and met Catherine and I think she was very keen to get opinions, to canvas options, and learn a bit. She’s not someone who is particularly fascinated by the minutiae of the fashion industry. I think wearing fashion and labels is something she does as part of her job, but it’s not something she would probably spend a lot of time doing if she was in another life, so she didn’t probably know the work of some of the designers that I had suggested.”
Shulman offerings included Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Erdem and Bruce Oldfield. “As we were doing it, I realised the obvious choice was Alexander McQueen because as a house, their craftsmanship is incredible and you would want to show British craftsmanship off in terms of the embroidery and the lace,” explains Shulman. “Plus McQueen has always used symbolism within his work – he’d always used a lot of references in it. So I thought that as a brand, it fitted.”
Sadly, McQueen passed away the year prior and Sarah Burton had taken over. “I thought, [Burton] is a very unassuming, very clever, very sensitive woman and I thought that she would be somebody that would be very easy for Catherine to work with, because they were obviously going to spend a lot of time together. So I explained all those things and they thanked me for my advice and off I went and that was the last thing I heard.”
“Then I got an invitation to the wedding and that was so exciting,” says Schulman. “But I didn’t know that she was going to wear McQueen until I was in the abbey.” – she got a text from a colleague saying, ‘It’s McQueen!’”