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The Daily Mail published a front-page story claiming to know not only the designer and the price, but essentially the exact dress that Meghan Markle would wear during her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19. It’s a big claim for the most important bridal gown of the year and puts a big damper on the tabloid sport of guessing the specifics.
But how much can we trust it? And what makes this claim different from all the other rumors about who’s designing the (two!) dresses Markle will wear on May 19? After all, just before Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011, a Huffington Post contributor published an “exclusive” that Sophie Cranston would design the dress, but it turned out both of Middleton’s dresses were designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.
Below, here are all the biggest rumors surrounding Meghan Markle’s dress, and the reasoning behind them:
1. It’s Ralph & Russo because anonymous sources say so
This was the Daily Mail’s big exclusive last week, claiming that multiple unnamed “royal and fashion industry sources” revealed that Markle’s dress would be by the British fashion house Ralph & Russo, which also designed the dress she wore in her engagement photos.
The article says that the dress is “hand-stitched, heavily beaded,” and that Harry’s family will foot the £100,000 bill. There’s also a rather misleading photo within the article of Meghan’s head edited onto a beaded three-quarter length sleeved Ralph & Russo dress. The next day, the Mail further supported its claim by publishing photos of Prince Harry leaving the Chelsea Ralph & Russo offices back in April. Fair!
2. It’s Ralph & Russo because that’s what British gamblers have decided
British bookmakers are so sure that Ralph & Russo is designing the royal wedding dress that they’ve stopped taking bets entirely. Racked spoke with popular betting brand Paddy Power last month, which said that they had received so many bets in such rapid succession that it set off the alarm for bookmakers that word was spreading and that certain people seemed to know the designer for a fact.
3. It’s Roland Mouret because of Meghan’s relationship with the designer
But there are plenty of Ralph & Russo doubters. Though he’s been tight-lipped about it, the Frenchman has long been suspected as the designer due to his longstanding friendship with Markle. The two met in an elevator in Istanbul, where Markle says he was dressed in a bathrobe and said, “I’d love to dress you.” He’s also “widely believed to have mentored” Victoria Beckham, another friend of Meghan’s and confirmed attendee of the wedding. (Beckham has stated pretty clearly that she isn’t the designer, so unfortunately we won’t be living in a world in which a Spice Girl designed the most important dress of the year.)
4. It’s Christopher Bailey for Burberry because fashion insiders say so
In April, the Daily Mail claimed that even though Prince Harry was as yet unaware of the dress designer, “well-placed sources” said that outgoing Burberry president Christopher Bailey was strongly favored. Burberry check print is unlikely, however.
5. It’s Erdem because it took its PR in-house
Here’s a fun one: Earlier in April, Erdem was tossed around because it had announced it was taking its public relations strategy in-house after having previously outsourced the work to an agency. The move, along with word that the brand was “staffing up” was widely considered to be a harbinger of big announcements to come. Plus, its creative director Erdem Moralıoğlu, while based in London, was born in Canada, where Markle lived while filming Suits, which is a cute thought.
6. It’s Alexander McQueen, because Kate
In February, bookmakers halted betting on the designer for the first time as a flurry of bets came in for McQueen. Many skeptics, however, noted that it might be strange to use the same designer as one’s sister-in-law just seven years after their own wedding. Which, yeah, that’d be weird!
7. It’s Stewart Parvin, because Queen Elizabeth
For a while in January, Parvin was heavily favored due to his longstanding relationship with the queen, for whom he has been the official royal dressmaker since 2000. He also designed Zara Phillips’s bridal gown in 2011. Meghan’s probably a little bit too cool, though.
8. It’s an underdog, because Meghan Markle
One of the reasons folks are skeptical about Ralph & Russo is precisely because she’s already worn the brand so prominently. What Kate Wore site founder Susan E. Kelley spoke to Racked last week and noted that Markle’s understanding of celebrity influence on fashion would make her less likely to rewear a designer in such a public way. “She’s so hip to giving exposure to brands that I think she would probably say, “Okay, they got a lot of exposure,” Kelley explained. Though Kelley suspects the designer is Roland Mouret, she also thinks it might be a small British heritage brand.
Some other smaller brands that have been tossed around: Elie Saab, J. Mendel, Antonio Berardi, Inbal Dror, and Misha Nonoo — the very woman who set up Meghan and Harry in the first place.
Either way, there’ll likely be a lot more rumors as to who will design Markle’s dresses before the big day. Stay tuned here for updates.