LONDON (AP) - It was a moment of Cinderella magic: The future queen, emerging from a Rolls-Royce in a slim ivory-and-white satin gown with a dramatic neckline, sheer lace sleeves and a train that followed her straight into fashion legend.
The dress, perhaps the most closely guarded secret of the royal wedding, became an icon from the moment it was broadcast around the world as Kate Middleton appeared at the doors of Westminster Abbey to marry Prince William.
Fashionistas swooned. Some people cried.
"It was perfect," gushed Darcy Miller, editorial director for Martha Stewart Weddings. "She looked incredibly beautiful, classic but also modern. And what's even more important, she looked like herself."
The palace went to extraordinary measures to keep the dress and its designer under wraps. It wasn't until Kate emerged from the car that it was revealed: Sarah Burton, creative director of the Alexander McQueen fashion house, was behind the long, lean gown, which hit the sweet spot between elegance and youthfulness, modesty and sensuality.
For the house of McQueen, the dress was a reversal of fortune beyond anything a Madison Avenue executive might have dreamed. A little more than a year ago, McQueen killed himself, and the industry wondered whether the label could survive without its brilliant but troubled namesake.
Uncounted hours of work went into the gown, fitted with a V-neck bustier and sweeping, eight-foot train in white and ivory satin gazar with a standup lace collar and long sleeves.
It was topped off by an antique Cartier tiara on loan from Queen Elizabeth II and a veil of tulle. It had the nipped waist and slightly flared hips that have come to be McQueen trademarks.
The ensemble was sleek and understated - particularly in comparison with the monumental gown Princess Diana wore at her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles, with its XXL puff sleeves and seemingly never-ending train. Its pared-down lines more closely recalled the simple elegance of the dress Grace Kelly wore when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956.