LONDON – There was tradition and modernity, sober styles and touches of whimsy: the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton showcased Britain's fashion roots, as well as the claim it's staking at the forefront of haute couture.
All eyes, of course, were on the bride's dress — and it immediately became the stuff that dreams are made of.
The gown, whose details were kept secret until Middleton stepped out of the Goring Hotel to travel to Westminster Abbey, was a magnificent ivory confection with lace floral detail designed by Britain's Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen.
A plunging neckline added an edgy touch to an otherwise traditional dress with lace-covered sleeves that ended at the wrists. Her hair was half up, half down, lightly curled and decorated with a tiara. She wore drop earrings.
Maid of honor Pippa Middleton wore a simple column dress also with a deep neckline, and naturally styled hair. The flower girls also were decked out in cream dresses with full skirts and flowers in their hair.
Queen Elizabeth II looked stately yet cheerful in a primrose Angela Kelly dress and matching hat.
Carole Middleton, the bride's mother, wore a sky blue wool crepe coatdress with matching satin piping over a sky blue silk shantung day dress. Both were designed by the Catherine Walker label. Middleton's hat was created by British designer Jane Corbett.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's wife Miriam Gonzalez Duantez — a Spanish attorney — sent tongues wagging with a body-hugging dress draped with lace and a red hat but most guests were more conservative, wearing simple suits and knee length dresses in pastels and blues.
On their heads however, they wore a riot of color, sculpture and design.
Irish designer Philip Treacy made most of the hats for royals attending the wedding — 36 in all that included creations for Prince Charles' wife, the duchess of Cornwall, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Princess Michael of Kent, Queen Anna-Marie of Greece and Princess Mathilde of Belgium.
He also designed a hat for Hollywood royalty: Victoria Beckham wore a midnight blue Treacy hat. And dozens of less famous guests wore his creations — many resembling architectural works meant to elongate and frame the face.
Princess Beatrice, the daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, was wearing an ensemble of Valentino couture and gloves by Cornelia James with Treacy hats that rose like a modernist building from her hair.
Her sister, Princess Eugenie, was wearing an outfit by Vivienne Westwood with an equally dramatic hat.
Some guests' hats looked like dinner plates. Others were so large they covered faces. One woman wore a bright red fascinator — a hairpiece attached to a clip or a comb — that resembled a flame licking her cheek.
Prime Minister David Cameron's wife, Samantha, broke with tradition: she wore a sparkly hair clip instead of a hat, and a tight turquoise dress.
Zara Phillips, the queen's granddaughter, was wearing Paul Costelloe. The couple's friend, Tara Palmer Tomkinson was wearing Deborah Milner.
The wedding presents a golden opportunity for designers. Many replica hats and dresses are expected to be in shops this week.
Victoria Beckham wore a dress of her own design: the dark tones of the smock-like maternity gown had a slightly funereal look. Her husband David wore a top hat with tails and the medal signifying that he is an officer of the order of the British empire.
The duchess of Cornwall wore a champagne silk dress and a duck egg blue and champagne coat by Anna Valentine, along with a Philip Treacy hat and Jimmy Choo shoes. Anna Valentine designed Camilla's dress for her 2005 wedding to Prince Charles.
A handful of Italian designers are making appearances. Prince Harry's on again off again girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, chose two custom-made Alberta Ferretti looks — an aqua green satin dress for the abbey and an asymmetric, midnight blue satin gown for the evening.