Royal Wedding: Countdown to the Big Wedding Dress Reveal...and Its KnockoffsSusan Scafidi in Wallet Pop (opinion), May 20, 2011
by Barbara Thau
Chances are good that romantic, flowing and form-fitting bridal gowns, evening dresses and prom frocks will be making their way to retailers' shelves come May.
That's because that's the fashion aesthetic of Sophie Cranston, the British designer who was chosen to create Kate Middleton's wedding dress -- just what clothing makers and retailers are breathlessly waiting to copy when the soon-to-be-princess makes her big reveal next week at the royal wedding.
This isn't the first time the designer has worked with Middleton: The 34-year-old designer whipped up the black velvet coat Middleton wore to a friend's wedding in January.
But once Middleton steps out of that limo and the flashbulbs start popping, says Susan Scafidi, professor and academic director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School in New York City, "there will be sewing machines cranking up all over the world, and, of course, in the U.S."
In turn, she added, "the usual suspects are ready and waiting" to knock off or, to put it more gently, "interpret" the highly anticipated wedding gown for the mass market. Expect to see wedding gowns inspired by the dress from wedding emporium David's Bridal and suppliers such as A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz, Scafidi says, as well as bridesmaids and prom dresses from vendors such as Faviana.
And be on the lookout for the fast-fashion retailers like H&M, Forever 21 and Top Shop to quickly whip up items inspired by Cranston's flowing, romantic and ethereal looks, Scafidi added.
Cranston, who worked for the late Alexander McQueen, is known for producing attainably priced fashion. Cranston's fashion label, Libelula, includes a line of Bespoke Wedding Dresses sold in the U.K. And Middleton's decision to go with the designer, who is a relative unknown, seems to reflect her populist inclinations. (It's been much reported that the butcher and grocer from the princess-elect's village in Berkshire are attending the wedding.)
Middleton has already been called "Michelle Obama-esque" for wearing clothes even we non-royal types can afford.
While the actual look of the royal dress is still a mystery, "Kate is a modern girl," says Scafidi. "She'll be a people's princess, not a fantasy princess. I think it will be far more modern -- I don't think we'll see a Princess Diana-like hoop skirt."
And you can't underestimate the power this single dress will have on fashion worldwide, Scafidi says. "Given what Cranston has done in the past -- [gowns] with straps or sleeves -- I would expect to see that [influence be] the biggest shift in bridal."
And it's not just Middleton's dress that will be infinitely copied. "Within less than 24 hours, look to see a whole lifestyle collection of products, from the dress to the tiara to the accessories to the footwear and the flowers that she's chosen, from head to toe, soup to nuts," Marshall Cohen, chief industry analyst with market research firm The NPD Group, told WalletPop.
"We saw this with the ring," Cohen offered. "Within a day, the ring was being made available at all different price points to the consumer."