The wedding of Prince William and then-Miss Kate Middleton was all anyone around the world could talk about in April 2011 (and some time in May). This was a few months after I’d turned 16 and a few months before I started this blog. I’d known about Charlene prior to this wedding, I’d seen her at Princess Victoria’s wedding, I’d read about the engagement announcement and I’d also seen her (in Armani Privé) at the 2010 Fete Nationale, but she wasn’t really on my radar until William and Kate’s wedding (no modern-day royalty really was). Why I chose to follow Charlene (and her style) over the past 9 years is in large because of the two looks she wore to this wedding.

Charlene Wttstock at Prince Wlliam & Kate Middleton pre-wedding dinner

Prince Albert and his then-fiancée attended the pre-wedding dinner given by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London on the 28th of April. The couple arrived late, that’s why we don’t have a ton of good pictures. Charlene wore a “dove-gray silk dupioni evening dress with laser-cut silk organza appliqué and a silk chiffon stole,” according to the press release sent out by Akris earlier that day.

Charlene Wittstock at Prince Wlliam and Kate Middleton pre-wedding dinner April 2011

The gown was based off of an existing design for a skirt (which cost over $8,000) By then, Charlene’s go-to style was strapless dresses so this was not really a surprise. The stole, however, has one sleeve to keep it in place and it added a nice illusion.

Akris laser cut silk organza skirt

The Olympic swimmer paired the dress with a matching Alice bag and Armani sandals. Charlene’s art deco earrings were never identified (they look a lot Mrs Greville’s Cartier earrings), her rose and butterfly was never identified either (they look VCA to me). Her makeup was done by the talented Nour Aoun. She simply looked gorgeous!

Charlene Wittstock leaves a gala pre-wedding dinner held at the Mandarin Oriental

The next day, Albert and Charlene got off the bus at Westminster Abbey (not kidding, royals arrived in buses) in a grey double-faced coat and dress with a matching Allegra ostrich clutch (although it looks like the Anouk style to me).

Charlene Wttstock at Prince Wlliam & Kate Middleton wedding

Charlene’s hat was designed by Akris and executed by Gallia e Peter and her nude pumps were Jimmy Choo. This look is so good because of its simplicity, the Peter Pan collar, and the proportions of the slim coat with the oversized hat.

Charlene Wttstock at Prince Wlliam & Kate Middleton wedding April 29

Charlene wore pearl and diamond earrings by Monaco-based Marco Molinario that she’d worn a few months before to Sante Devote ceremony and would wear again several times since. Shortly, after the ceremony, Albert and Charlene had to leave early and skip the breakfast reception.

Marco Molinario earrings

Princess Charlene’s choices for this wedding were a strong pillar on which she’d built her image; understated, glamorous, modern. But they’d raised a few eyebrows because they were not by Armani. Reports came out about how she “snubbed” Giorgio and how Armani’s press person did not sound happy. Albert Kriemler (creative director of Akris) over a year later that they only had the outfits commissioned 2 weeks before the wedding. Earlier in April, Albert and Charlene had just completed one of their biggest state visits (to this day, even). The wardrobe for this trip to Ireland was mostly designed by Akris (still with an abundance of Armani accessories), and it had garnered the couple great press and Charlene in particular was praised everywhere for her minimalistic, modern style thanks to sleek looks Akris created. In hindsight, it doesn’t seem impossible to me that Char had a change of heart and decided to go with Akris instead of Armani. Whether that’s true or not, Armani ended up making her beautiful wedding gowns and she gave Akris more press than it probably had ever gotten by wearing them to Prince William’s wedding. Akris would soon take over as Charlene’s go-to designer creating her entire 2011 Grand Prix wardrobe.

As much as I adore these two looks, they confuse me. When you compare what Akris designed for her when she was a princess-to-be with the gown Kriemler created for her for the Oscar’s in 2012 or the two gowns for Princess Madeleine’s wedding, there’s a major disconnect. To me, it almost feels like a step back rather than further. Many of Akris’s subsequent designs for the princess got more radical, but they didn’t necessarily get more regal. Charlene, who is experimental with her looks, was willing to take many risks with the Swiss fashion house and a few of them didn’t quite work. These two, though not super risky, delivered…

Happy 9th wedding anniversary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!