Meghan Markle surprised everyone by wearing a custom Givenchy wedding dress, designed by newly appointed artistic director, Clare Waight Keller, on her wedding day. The decorated designer beat out many front-runners — including Stella McCartney, Ralph & Russo, and Erdem — for the coveted role. Here’s everything you need to know about Keller, including the reason why she was hand-selected by the royal bride.
She may have a history of designing for French fashion houses, but Keller was born in Birmingham and educated in London (first at Ravensbourne College of Art and then at the Royal College of Art). Beyond her impressive repertoire, her British background is one of the main reasons why she was selected as Meghan’s wedding dress designer. A statement from Kensington Palace affirmed this. “Ms. Markle also wanted to highlight the success of a leading British talent who has now served as the creative head of three globally influential fashion houses—Pringle of Scotland, Chloé, and now Givenchy,” read the announcement.
She got her start in New York.
Keller’s first design job was at Calvin Klein in New York City, where she worked as a stylist for the women’s ready-to-wear line. A British designer with American roots? We’re starting to see exactly why she was the perfect choice for Meghan. Like the bride and groom, she’s a blend of British and American influence.
She has quite the resumé.
Before landing at Givenchy — she debuted her first inaugural haute couture collection in January — Keller held positions at several high-profile fashion houses. After Calvin Klein, she joined the team at Gucci in 2000, where she designed women’s ready-to-wear and accessories for four years. Following a stint at Pringle of Scotland (a Scottish cashmere company), she was hired as artistic director at Chloé.
She’s the first female artistic director at Givenchy.
Which makes her a revolutionary, just like the royal bride. Keller succeeded Riccardo Tisci, who was the helm of Givenchy since 2005.
This is the first wedding dress she designed for the house.
But Meghan knew this and sought her out instead for her “timeless and elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring, and relaxed demeanour” and style aesthetic, continued the Palace’s statement. For a bride that brought many firsts to the Royal Family, Keller’s fresh eyes were more than appropriate.
This article originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.