Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
British bookmakers are pretty positive they know who’s designing Meghan Markle’s wedding dress — and despite recent reports that Erdem was staffing up its in-house PR team, possibly in preparation for “an onslaught of press,” the answer isn’t the young design house.
Instead, it’s presumed to be Ralph & Russo, the British brand responsible for the semi-sheer dress Markle wore in her engagement photos with Prince Harry. Bookies like the popular betting chain Paddy Power are so sure, in fact, that they’ve suspended all betting on the designer, with the odds at 2-1 for the brand (meaning that if you bet one pound and were correct, you’d get two back).
This isn’t the first time betting on the royal wedding dress has been suspended, however. Back in February, an influx of money on Alexander McQueen caused Paddy Power to halt transactions, but it later reopened the bet.
This time, though, it might be suspended for good. “At this stage in the game, I feel like it’s unlikely that we’ll reopen it,” explains Amy Jones, a spokesperson for the company. “Now that there are a few people that know, and that know for definite — whereas before people might have had their suspicions — you would assume that the fashion house has designed it, it’s all confirmed, and everything’s ready to go.” (The wedding is set for May 19.)
“Judging off the money which we’ve had from our punters [a term for people who place bets], we’re fairly sure that it’s Ralph & Russo. I actually was reading today that the Daily Mail have apparently said so — I mean, they probably know as much as us, but if you look at the consistent money and the larger bets, definitely Ralph & Russo.” (The Daily Mail reported back in March that a “well-placed informant” had confirmed the dress would indeed be Ralph & Russo, although just yesterday it reported that two different “well-placed sources” now favor outgoing Burberry president Christopher Bailey.)
To the average American for whom betting is, well, illegal, this precise form of speculation is all very foreign. But in the U.K., where betting shops practically line every street corner, bets on everything from football games to celebrity baby names are common. For novelty bets such as the latter, here’s how it works: Traders from betting brands do extensive research — in this case, that meant looking at what Markle has worn to major events in the past and her quotes about fashion in the press — and then put out initial odds.
As bets roll in, they adjust the odds in accordance with demand and will suspend betting if it seems as though someone knows something for a fact and word is spreading. So when the betting for Markle’s dress was reopened, “the betters went in heavy on Ralph & Russo,” says Jones. “We’ve taken the market back down again because it’s been confirmed pretty much that the designer of the dress is chosen and the dress is ready. So what happens is if our traders see we get a lot of substantial bets on a particular designer, they think to themselves, ‘Okay, what are the chances that someone actually knows this for a fact?’”
It’s important to note, however, that these sorts of predictions are often wrong. Prior to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, betting odds were suspended when it was reported that Bruce Oldfield would be designing Middleton’s dress, when it instead was Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.
In more confirmed news, Vanity Fair reported yesterday that Markle will wear not one but two custom-made dresses, an “elaborate yet traditional bridal gown for the ceremony and reception and a glamorous, more sophisticated dress for the evening.” For what it’s worth, Middleton also wore two dresses on her wedding day, both by Burton for McQueen.
Back when the engagement was announced, Burberry was “quite fancied,” but odds dropped when money started coming in for Ralph & Russo, Erdem, and Alexander McQueen.
As for the official odds for the royal wedding dress (before they were suspended), Roland Mouret, Queen Elizabeth favorite Stewart Parvin, and Erdem follow behind Ralph & Russo:
- Ralph & Russo 2-1
- Roland Mouret 9-4
- Stewart Parvin 9-4
- Erdem 6-1
- Victoria Beckham 7-1
- Alexander McQueen 8-1
- Issa 10-1
- Burberry 12-1
- Emilia Wickstead 18-1
- Chanel 20-1
- Christopher Kane 20-1
- Lucian Matis 20-1
- Matthew Gallagher 20-1
- Temperley London 20-1
- Prada 22-1
- Reiss 30-1
The designer of the dress isn’t the only royal wedding-related novelty bet that exists. One that’s still live: whether Markle will be pregnant at the wedding. “That’s definitely a bit of a cheeky one,” says Jones with a laugh. At Paddy Power, those odds are currently 13-2, so if you bet two pounds and Markle is pregnant, you’d get 13 back. “Not too bad!” Jones says.
PSA: There’s currently 100-1 odds Prince William will wear his hair in a ponytail, so do with that information what you will.