Meghan Markle made a surprise appearance at the British Fashion Awards tonight, where she presented an accolade to her wedding dress designer Clare Waight Keller.
Wow. What a surprise! Meghan’s appearance today was in partnership with Swarovski and aimed to honor Clare Waight Keller with the British Designer of the Year Womenswear Award. Neither the audience nor Clare knew that the Duchess would attend the event.
Meghan was introduced on stage by Gone Girl actress and fellow Givenchy fan Rosamund Pike to the delight of Clare and the audience.
Meghan took the stage to cheering applause and started off by saying: “It is such a pleasure to be here celebrating British fashion and British fashion designers in my new home of the UK. It’s so nice to see so many familiar faces; many of you I’ve known for quite a while and a lot of you I’ve been able to meet in the past year, so thank you for the warm welcome.”
Meghan continued describing how ‘we have a deep connection to what we wear. Sometimes it’s deeply personal, sometimes it’s emotional,’ and said that for her, it was “really in being able to understand that it’s about supporting and empowering each other, especially as women.” She praised the ‘kindness’ and the ‘values’ of Clare Waight Keller, who created the gown in which she walked down the aisle this May.
You’ll recall that Clare Waight Keller was the designer behind the sleek silk boat-necked gown and long billowing veil worn by Meghan as she walked down the aisle of St. George’s Chapel for her wedding. She is the first female artistic director of a French fashion house and met Meghan for the first time earlier this year. Kensington Palace described how Meghan requested a dress with an ‘elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring, and relaxed demeanor.’ And she delivered!
The veil carried floral references to all 53 countries in the Commonwealth, and the palace said workers spent hundreds of hours sewing the delicate flower designs into the veil, meticulously washing their hands every half hour to keep the silk tulle and threads clean.
In audio recorded for the exhibition, Meghan said she worked closely with designer Clare Waight Keller to achieve her vision of what she wanted:
“I had a very clear vision of what I wanted for the day, and what I wanted the dress to look like, and so what was amazing in working with Clare is that sometimes you’ll find designers try to push you in a different direction. But she just completely respected what I wanted to see for the day, and she wanted to bring that to life for me. So I knew at the onset I wanted a bateau neckline, I wanted a cropped sleeve, I wanted a very timeless, classic feeling and, obviously with respect to the environment we were in and St George’s Chapel, being really modest in what it would look like, I knew that the tailoring was so key because the dress itself would be so covered up.”
In her acceptance speech, Claire Waight Keller thanked Meghan Markle for trusting in her when it came to making her wedding dress.
“To have someone like that trust you in an incredible moment in their life is something that is just the most unbelievable honor,” and then turned to Meghan and said: “As part of my speech, you were in it. This woman is amazing, and I got to know Meghan on such a personal level, and to have someone like that trust you in an incredible moment in their life is something that is just the most unbelievable honor, and I can’t thank you enough because it was the most beautiful moment.”
She continued: “She’s exactly what you see on TV. She’s just so genuine and warm and radiant. She’s just glowing. She’s a strong woman. She knows what she wants, and it was really an absolute joy working with her.” She revealed the groom was more than pleased with the results: “He came straight up to me, and he said, ‘oh my God, thank you, she looks absolutely stunning’. So, I think for the both of them, they were just radiant at that time.”
You can watch both speeches below
On a personal level, Clare was born in Birmingham and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fashion, followed by a master’s degree at the Royal College of Art. Her carrier began at Calvin Klein in New York as a stylist, then at Ralph Lauren.
After the awards, a photo of Meghan Markle, Clare Waight Keller and Rosamond was shared
Known as the British Fashion Awards until 2016, The Fashion Awards is an annual ceremony established in 1989 in the UK and aims to showcase both British and international individuals and businesses who have made the most outstanding contributions to the fashion industry during the year. The event is organized by the British Fashion Council. It is the primary fundraiser for the BFC’s Education Foundation. This charity promotes excellence in design by financially supporting students with the ability and potential to make an exceptional contribution to the fashion industry.
The winners of this year’s Fashion Awards were presented with a Swarovski crystal designed by David Adjaye, who is known for designing many notable buildings around the world.
The British Fashion Council and event sponsor Swarovski commissioned David to create the bespoke trophy. He intended to “create beautiful and unexpected refractions”, his design features a six-sided column with triangular facets that taper upwards.
For the event, Meghan Markle opted for a bespoke black velvet one-shoulder, asymmetric gown by Clare Waight Keller (because who else?).
She styled it with a pair of Tamara Mellon gold Karat sandals
She accessorized with gold jewelry by Pippa Small, including the Omeen Bangle, Wajiha Bangle, and gold stud earrings.
From the designer:
Lovely surprise by our duchess!