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Inside Meghan Markle’s ‘personal relationship’ with the woman who made her wedding dress: Clare Waight Keller bonded with the Duchess during the design process and appeared in the Sussex’s explosive Netflix series


As Meghan Markle dined at the exclusive Cipriani Italian bistro beloved by A-listers in Beverly Hills, she was joined by a very special friend, Clare Waight Keller.

The fashion designer, who was once creative director at Givenchy, designed the Duchess’s stunning boat-neck wedding dress when she married Prince Harry in Windsor in 2018.

Despite Meghan and Harry leaving the UK and relocating to California, British-based designer Clare has remained close to the couple and has even described her friendship with the Duchess as a ‘personal girlfriend relationship’ – something that developed in the design process.

She also appeared in Harry and Meghan’s explosive Netflix series, broadcast in December 2022, where she spoke about the 3,900 hours spent making the dress.

And shortly after the wedding, the Duchess presented Clare with the prestigious British Womenswear Designer of the Year at the Fashion Awards.

Meghan presented Clare with the prestigious British Womenswear Designer of the Year award in 2018

Meghan presented Clare with the prestigious British Womenswear Designer of the Year award in 2018

Speaking at the 2023 Bazaar At Work Summit in London, Birmingham-born Clare shared insights into preparing the former Suits star for her big day.

‘It was just the two of us for so long and it became this very personal girlfriend relationship,’ she explained. 

Following her high-profile wedding to Prince Harry, Meghan wore a number of Clare’s Givenchy designs – turning to the label to dress her for many prominent engagements, including her June 2018 outing in Cheshire alongside the Queen. 

In December 2018, Meghan, 42, made clear how close the two women had become when she made a surprise appearance at the 2018 British Fashion Awards to present Clare, 53, with an award.

Meghan wowed guests at the star-studded event as she stepped onto the stage, wearing a black one-shoulder dress designed by the very woman she was there to honour.

Clare won the prestigious British Womenswear Designer of the Year award and thanked Meghan personally in her speech at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, London.

‘This woman is so amazing. I got to know Meghan on such a personal level. To have someone like that trust you on such a personal moment in their life… I can’t thank you enough because it was the most beautiful moment,’ she said.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding dat at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, 19 May 2018

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding dat at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, 19 May 2018

Meghan Markle was spotted leaving Cipriani restaurant after enjoying lunch with Clare Waight Keller in Beverly Hills yesterday

Meghan Markle was spotted leaving Cipriani restaurant after enjoying lunch with Clare Waight Keller in Beverly Hills yesterday

Clare Waight Keller appeared in episode four of Harry and Meghan's Netflix documentary

Clare Waight Keller appeared in episode four of Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary

Addressing the assembled fashionistas, the Duchess, who was pregnant with Archie, said: ‘It’s such a pleasure to be here, celebrating British fashion and British designers, in my new home in the UK.’

She said of fashion, that ‘we have a deep connection to what we wear. Sometimes it’s deeply personal, sometimes it’s emotional,’ and that for her, it was ‘really in being able to understand that it’s about supporting and empowering each other, especially as women.’

She also praised Clare’s ‘kindness’ and ‘values’.

The first female artistic director of Givenchy met the Duchess for the first time in early 2018, Kensington Palace said, with Meghan requesting a wedding dress with an ‘elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring and relaxed demeanor.’

Meghan presents the British Designer of the Year Womenswear Award to Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy during The Fashion Awards 2018

Meghan presents the British Designer of the Year Womenswear Award to Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy during The Fashion Awards 2018

Meghan made a surprise appearance at the 2018 British Fashion Awards, wearing a black one-shoulder dress by Givenchy

Meghan accessorised with gold jewellery while her hair was swept back into a chignon

Meghan made a surprise appearance at the 2018 British Fashion Awards, wearing a black one-shoulder dress by Givenchy

The exquisite 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, meticulously washing their hands every half hour to keep the silk tulle and threads clean.

Meanwhile, Meghan’s wedding dress was characterised by a classic bateau neckline, three-quarter length sleeves and an A-line skirt, with a train measuring nearly six feet from the waist.

A global audience of 1.9 billion watched as Clare crouched to arrange the Duchess of Sussex’s 16.5 foot veil on the steps of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018. 

It was a rare public appearance for the designer who prefers to let her designs steal the limelight.

The duo’s bond blossomed during the extensive 3,900 hours spent perfecting Meghan’s tailor-made dress over the course of four months. 

Meghan wore a bespoke Givenchy dress to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge in Cheshire alongisde Queen Elizabeth on June 14, 2018

Meghan wore a bespoke Givenchy dress to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge in Cheshire alongisde Queen Elizabeth on June 14, 2018

The Duchess of Sussex appeared to have a 'Diana moment' in New Zealand as she looked to have flashed her legs through her semi-sheer Givenchy skirt on October 31, 2018

The Duchess of Sussex appeared to have a ‘Diana moment’ in New Zealand as she looked to have flashed her legs through her semi-sheer Givenchy skirt on October 31, 2018

Meghan Markle makes her Royal Ascot debut in Givenchy on June 19, 2018

Meghan Markle makes her Royal Ascot debut in Givenchy on June 19, 2018

‘It was just the two of us for so long and it became this very personal girlfriend relationship,’ Clare said of their friendship at the 2023 Bazaar At Work Summit in London.

‘It was just a pleasure to create in this very, very private way,’ she continued.

Clare Waight Keller – who obtained a bachelor’s degree in Fashion at Ravensbourne College of Art and a master’s degree at the Royal College of Art – began her career as a Calvin Klein womenswear stylist in New York, before moving to Ralph Lauren’s menswear line, Purple Label.

In 2000, she joined Gucci under the direction of Tom Ford, where she worked as a senior designer in London until 2004.

The following year, she took on the role of artistic director at Pringle of Scotland, which earned her the 2007 Scottish Fashion Awards Designer of the Year in the cashmere category.

Clare Waight Keller arranging Meghan's veil as she walks up the steps outside St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

Clare Waight Keller arranging Meghan’s veil as she walks up the steps outside St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

The Duchess of Sussex's 16.5 foot veil carried floral references to all 53 countries in the Commonwealth

The Duchess of Sussex’s 16.5 foot veil carried floral references to all 53 countries in the Commonwealth

Clare Waight Keller attends the Harper's Bazaar At Work Summit at Raffles London at The OWO on November 21, 2023

Clare Waight Keller attends the Harper’s Bazaar At Work Summit at Raffles London at The OWO on November 21, 2023

However, Clare relocated to Paris in 2011 to become artistic director of Chloé – where she is credited for helping the company become the most profitable brand at luxury goods conglomerate, Richemont.

In 2017, she was appointed artistic director of haute couture and ready-to-wear for womenswear and menswear at Givenchy, a role she held until 2020. 

The British designer was the first-ever female artistic director to hold the position in the brand’s 68-year history. 

She was responsible for returning Givenchy back to the couture schedule, presenting a total of five couture collections during her occupancy.

Clare oversaw a further 30 collections, spanning womenswear and menswear, which received critical acclaim.

Meghan arrives to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on July 18, 2022

Meghan arrives for a two-day visit to Dublin, Ireland, on July 10, 2018

A Meghan must-have! The Duchess wore Givenchy’s £1,255 pencil skirt in black (2022) and emerald (2018)

Meghan selected a black Givenchy dress for a visit to the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2018

Meghan selected a black Givenchy dress for a visit to the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2018

The Duchess donned a figure-hugging Givenchy dress to the 2020 Endeavour Fund Awards

The Duchess donned a figure-hugging Givenchy dress to the 2020 Endeavour Fund Awards

The designer left Givenchy in 2020 and, last year, created a new affordable line with Japanese high street retailer, Uniqlo. 

Uniqlo: C consists of 34 versatile pieces – including coats, dresses and accessories – that create a ‘modern wardrobe’ inspired by the designer’s wealth of experience.

The collection launched in September 2023, available online and in 1,500 stores across the globe. 

But the highlight of Clare’s career at French fashion house Givenchy was undoubtedly designing Meghan Markle’s iconic wedding gown.

The British fashion designer appeared in the Sussex’s Netflix series, where she spoke of Meghan’s demure dress, saying it had to be ‘flawless’.

Meghan Markle showcased a navy Givenchy outfit during Trooping The Colour on June 8, 2019

Meghan Markle showcased a navy Givenchy outfit during Trooping The Colour on June 8, 2019

Meghan showcased an all-black ensemble by Givenchy to the Association of Commonwealth Universities in London on January 31, 2019

The Duchess chose a navy Givenchy outfit for the wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank on  October 12, 2018

The Duchess of Sussex has worn several bespoke wool coats by Givenchy over the years

Megan Markle and Clare Waight Keller were spotted leaving new celebrity hotspot Cipriani Beverly Hills yesterday

Megan Markle and Clare Waight Keller were spotted leaving new celebrity hotspot Cipriani Beverly Hills yesterday

‘Looking at the design of the dress, there were many conversations about how you want to present yourself to the world,’ Clare explained during episode four of the documentary.

‘Most of us have a wedding with 70 to a hundred people. This was billions of people watching. 

‘It has to be flawless, it has to be perfect.’

And Meghan and Clare’s friendship appears to be going from strength to strength as the pair was spotted enjoying lunch at the new celebrity hotspot, Cipriani Beverly Hills, yesterday.

The 42-year-old Suits star flashed a smile for paparazzi as she emerged from the Italian restaurant, wearing a £3,895 Max Mara cashmere coat and Givenchy sunglasses.

Meanwhile, a glowing Clare, following closely behind, looked effortlessly stylish in a double-breasted blazer and cropped wide-leg jeans, elevated by court shoes. 



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