January 27, 2011 / 2:41 PM / 9 years ago

Diana's dressmaker says secrecy may be key for Kate

LONDON (Reuters) - Security guards, a safe and a trail of false clues are some of the tactics that may be employed by whoever it is making the dress for Kate Middleton’s wedding to Britain’s Prince William.

Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton (L) pose for a photograph in St. James's Palace, central London in a November 16, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/files

Speculation is rife about which designer has been or will be given the commission for turning “Waity Katie” into a 21st century fairytale princess for her April 29th marriage to a future King of England in Westminster Abbey.

The woman who designed the dress for the marriage of William’s mother Diana to his father and heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles nearly 30 years ago, told Reuters that the intense media interest may require strict security measures.

Elizabeth Emanuel and her then husband David were little more than fresh-faced college graduates when they got the call that almost every designer dreams of: a royal wedding dress.

But an official announcement from the palace telling the media they had been chosen led to overwhelming scrutiny.

“There was so much media interest, all wanting to know what the dress was going to look like and of course we couldn’t say anything,” Elizabeth Emanuel told Reuters this week.

She said they had to bring in security guards and put the dress in a safe every night to fend off reporters who camped out on their doorstep, gawped through their windows and rummaged through the rubbish bins looking for any clues about the dress.

“We used to leave bits of different colored threads and things to put them on the wrong track and we had to put blinds up so that people couldn’t peer through the windows,” Emanuel said. “And we even had a spare dress hanging up just in case somebody did discover the secret.”

Emanuel said the 29-year-old Middleton is an older, more assured fashion-conscious bride-to-be than the shy 20-year-old Diana and consequently is likely to know better what she wants.

“With Diana she was very young, when we were introduced to her and fashion was not one of her big interests so she didn’t really have her own sense of style,” Emanuel said.

“But Kate Middleton does. She’s worked in fashion. She knows what suits her so she’s probably got a very firm idea of what kind of dress she wants.”

Unlike Diana’s voluminous gown with bulbous sleeves, 25 foot train and tiara which came to define the over-the-top designs of the 1980s, Emanuel said she would design a dress for Middleton that was more subdued for the current times.

As for who the designer is, Emanuel is not telling if she does know, but says whoever it is will be taken aback by how huge a job it is once they’ve gotten over the excitement of being asked to do it.

“It helps if you’ve got a track record of designing couture because at the end of the day, it’s a handmade dress for one person,” she said. “It’s got to be totally unique and you’ve got to have a very good team in place that knows how to design that kind of a dress.”

Emanuel said she was looking forward to the wedding day and took pride in Britain’s pomp and circumstance.

“I think it’s a day that everybody is going to be looking forward to and we’re going to see what Britain does really well - a royal wedding,” she said.

Renewed interest in Diana’s dress since William and Kate’s engagement announcement has also prompted Emanuel to consider putting together a documentary of how to make one.

She is currently in talks with video production houses but no deal has been reached yet.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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