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Video: Who will design the royal wedding gown?

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    >>> said to be the most talked about and photographed dress of 2011 . what will she wear when she marries prince william . tamron is here with the latest.

    >> every bride wants to shine on her big day and when it comes to picking her wedding gown , one thing is here, kate middleton 's pick will get worldwide scrutiny.

    >> reporter: kate middleton wore the brazilian designer's creation to announce to the world she found her prince.

    >> i was very excited.

    >> isa is said to be kate 's favorite designer but the british are hoping one of their own gets to design the future queen's wedding dress .

    >> just that little bit more.

    >> reporter: the odds on favorite british design tore the st st stars.

    >> i think she does a really romantic dress, they're large scale, but not heavy and clunky, she can bring a delicacy and lightness into a huge garment which i think is quite an achievement.

    >> david emanuel created princess dianadiana's gown at the time.

    >> we're in a different mood now, where you know 2010 going into 2011 . we look forward to these big, big intraicelebrations, they're very exciting.

    >> reporter: princess diana 's dress cost $115,000, kate 's dress will cost nearly double that.

    >> kate has to be sensitive to it being too out landish and expensive.

    >> reporter: no matter who she chooses, this english rose is sure to shine and the designer remembered forever.

    >> the second kate picks a dress, there are sure to be copycats and british sellers already selling an inexpensive copy of that blue dress she wore to announce her engagement.

    >> susan zuckerman is a writer and reporter for people working with the royal coverage team. good morning.

    >> suzanne, if i could start with you, let's talk a little bit about these two top contenders who will design the dress. isa the brazilian designer and f phillipa.

    >> obviously isa is on everyone's mind because kate wears her dresses so well. last week she suddenly emerged with british odds makers putting a lot of emphasis on phillipa. she is a london based designer and she does have that relationship. kate has the power and the ability here to tap a british designer, and there is a sense of nationalistic pride that goes along with that.

    >> but is there a big difference in the kind of style these women would use in terms of creating the dress?

    >> i think that isa is clean lined and polishes. phillipa has a little bit more refined.

    >> your name has come up as one of the possible designers of the gown. they're putting you at five to one at this point. if you were to design the dress, what kind of a dress would you design for her knowing her style over the past eight years?

    >> i think the difference between kate and diana is that kate has developed her own sense of style, she very much knows what suits her. and i would imagine she would go to something quite simple, but also, you know, it's going to be a fantastic challenge for a designer because it's a royal occasion that's going to be an historical moment, it's got to be something that really reflects the history, you know, side. so it actually could be anything, but the one thing i'm pretty certain about, probably not going to look like diana 's dress.

    >> you designed diana 's dress. so you know the pressure of being in that position.

    >> oh, goodness, yes.

    >> what would you say to whoever designs this dress?

    >> it is incredible pressure and the thing is if you have a really good team around you, that's very, very important and you're got to get very good security. and the thing is to really concentrate on what's the most important thing which is to do an absolutely amazing dress for the bride. the bride is the most important part of this at the end of the day and put in the back of your mind, there's going to be i don't know how many billion people watching as well. you've got to try and not think about that.

    >> right, like they couldn't.

    >> elizabeth emanuel , thank you so much.

    >>> and now let's head outside to tamron.

    >> hey, meredith, al, the crowd is getting ready for the sensational susan boyle concert. this is a young handsome fan.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 11/23/2010 10:53:12 AM ET 2010-11-23T15:53:12

With the royal wedding watch at 157 days and counting now that the big date has been announced, eyes all over the world are turning toward what Kate Middleton will be wearing when she walks down the aisle with Prince William at Westminster Abbey on April 29.

The dress guess is the topic of widespread speculation — and a bookmaker’s dream. Daniella Issa Helayel, the designer who crafted Middleton’s deep blue dress for her official engagement announcement, was an early favorite, but London oddsmakers have since elevated powerhouse London designer Phillipa Lepley to front-runner status.

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Buy British?
Appearing on TODAY Tuesday, People magazine’s royal watcher, Suzanne Zuckerman, told Meredith Vieira it might be a case of “Buy British” that elevated Lepley from a 25-to-1 long shot to a 3-to-1 favorite in the wedding gown sweepstakes. Lepley is a born and bred Englishwoman, while Helayel hails from Brazil, although her design company is in London.

“Much like Michelle Obama tapped Jason Wu to design her inaugural gown, Kate has the power and the ability here to tap a British designer,” Zuckerman said. “There is a sense of nationalistic pride that goes along with that.”

Video: Who will design the royal wedding gown? (on this page)

Still, there remains a sentimental favorite in the form of Elizabeth Emanuel, whom William’s mother, Diana, elevated from relative obscurity to design the $115,000 wedding dress for her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles, the most watched wedding in TV history.

Appearing via satellite from London on TODAY Tuesday, Emanuel recalled that heady time, when she had to outwit photographers trying to get a shot of the gown-in-making, and relied on her staff not to succumb to huge payouts from the British press to divulge its details.

But Emanuel warned that any comparisons between Kate Middleton and Diana Spencer might be ill-advised. Kate is 28 and has been in the public eye since first being identified as William’s girlfriend back in 2001. Diana, on the other hand, was a tender 20 when she married Charles just a year after they first met.

TODAY
Elizabeth Emanuel co-designed Princess Diana’s wedding gown.

“The difference between Kate and Diana is that Kate has developed her own sense of style; she very much knows what suits her,” Emanuel told Vieira.

Slideshow: Kate Middleton’s princess style (on this page)

She added: “I would imagine she would go for something quite simple, but also it’s going to be a fantastic challenge for a designer because it’s a royal occasion; it’s going to be a historical moment. It’s got to be something that really reflects the history.”

Interactive: A history of British royal weddings (on this page)
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And that history would be British. Despite Middleton’s strong connections to Helayel — the $625 Issa dress Middleton wore to her engagement announcement sold out just hours later — Lepley became the betting favorite in the belief that Middleton will eventually choose a native Brit designer.

“It’s important that they do use a British designer for us to all fly the flag just that little bit more,” Peta Hunt, fashion director for the British magazine You & Your Wedding, told NBC.

While Helayel is known for her clean, polished look in wedding gowns, Lepley, who has designed wedding dresses for several celebrities, may be the designer who can best flatter Middleton’s figure, Hunt said.

“I think she does a really romantic dress,” she said. “They’re large-scale, but not heavy and clunky. She can bring a delicacy and lightness into a huge garment, which I think is quite an achievement.”

TODAY
Pincess Diana’s wedding gown reflected a 1980s style, with delicate bodice and elaborately ruffled collar.

The whole world will watch
Emanuel noted that times have changed considerably since she dressed Diana: Emanuel was barely out of design college when she offered a black evening dress for Diana to wear at her engagement announcement to Charles. That dress turned the public eye from seeing Diana as a shy teen — she was only 19 when she became engaged to Charles — into a future princess. Diana was so enthralled with the engagement dress that she phoned Emanuel personally and asked her to be the wedding dress designer.

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While Emanuel’s creation for Diana — the delicate bodice, ruffled collar and 25-foot detachable train — became iconic, she told Vieira the pressure on whichever designer wins the plum assignment from Middleton might be even greater than what she underwent. The viewership for Kate and William’s wedding is likely to smash Charles and Diana’s record-setting numbers.

Slideshow: A royal couple’s long courtship (on this page)

“The bride is the most important part of this at the end of the day,” Emanuel said. “[You have to] try to put in the back of your mind that there’s going to be I don’t know how many billion people watching, so you’ve got to try not to think about that.”

For the record, oddsmakers list Helayel as second most likely to get the wedding dress assignment, at 9-to-2 odds, while Emanuel is the third-favorite at 5 to 1. Other famous designers in the mix include Vivienne Westwood at 8 to 1, and Vera Wang at 16 to 1.

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Photos: Kate Middleton’s spot-on princess style

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  1. Princess style

    On the left, Princess Diana wore an elegant pink gown to the opera in Milan in 1985. Kate Middleton chose the same color halter dress for a Starlight Children's Foundation event in 2008.

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    Kate Gosselin’s Style Evolution (Jayne Fincher/Getty; Davidson/O'Neill/Rex via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Whimsical hats

    Princess Anne of England matched a fun orange hat to her suit at the Ascot Racecourse in 2009, the same year Kate paired a matching hat with her lavender coat at the wedding of a British aristocrat. (Samir Hussein/WireImage; Indigo/Getty via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Equestrian chic

    Princess Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco looked ready to ride in 2003 at the International Horse Jumping Show. Kate Middleton went for a similar look with tall riding boots and a crisp white skirt in 2007 at the Badminton Horse Trials.

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    Kate Gosselin’s Style Evolution (Bruno Bebert/Rex; Rex USA InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Classic coats

    Princess Caroline of Monaco looked chic in a classic trench in London in 1973. The same style still looked fresh on Kate Middleton in 2008 as she watched Prince William receive his military pilot's wings. (Popperfoto/Getty; Michael Dunlea/AP via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Holiday wear

    Princess Diana wore a red coat and black hat on Christmas Day in 1993. Kate wore the same winning combination during the 2006 holidays.

    Suri Cruise’s Cutest Outfits

    See Lady Gaga’s Style Transformation

    Kate Gosselin’s Style Evolution (Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty; Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA/WireImage Photos via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Royal blues

    Crown Princess Mary of Denmark looked elegant in a teal gown at a birthday celebration. Kate Middleton looked equally regal in a blue halter at a charity gala in 2006. (Tim Rooke/Rex; JPI via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Black and white

    Princess Diana dressed in a chic black and white skirt suit at Royal Albert Hall in 1990. Kate dressed similarly to receive her diploma from the University of St. Andrews in 2005.

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    Kate Gosselin’s Style Evolution (Tim Graham/Getty; Michael Dunlea/Getty via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Feathered hats

    Princess Diana wore a feathered hat for outing in Pembrokeshire in 1981, while Kate Middleton wore an almost-identical one to a wedding in 2006. (Jayne Fincher/Getty; Tim Graham/Getty via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Metallic gowns

    Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden wore a beautiful bronze silk gown to a banquet for the Danish Royals in 2007. Kate opted for an elegant chrome-colored gown for the annual Starlight Children's Foundation event in 2009.

    Suri Cruise’s Cutest Outfits

    See Lady Gaga’s Style Transformation

    Kate Gosselin’s Style Evolution (Tim Rooke/Rex; Alan Davidson/Rex via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Feminine florals

    Queen Rania of Jordan chose a delicate floral dress for a Royal Military Academy parade in 2006. In 2007, Kate Middleton wore a similar carefree look on a walk through West London. (MJ Kim/Getty; Ramey Photo via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Fur hats

    Princess Marie Chantal of Greece wore a luxurious fur hat to the wedding of the Dutch Crown Princess in 2002. In 2006, Kate kept warm in a fur hat at the Cheltenham Races.

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    Kate Gosselin’s Style Evolution (UK Press/Getty; Tim Graham/Getty via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Polka dots

    Princess Diana looked glamorous in a red polka-dot dress at the premiere of "For Your Eyes Only" in 1981. Kate Middleton dazzled in the same pattern at the Chakravarty Polo Match in 2006. (Tim Graham/Getty; Rex via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Menswear

    Princess Diana went shopping at Harvey Nichols in 1995 wearing an understated neutral pant paired with a blazer. Kate Middleton dressed almost identically 10 years later out and about in London.

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    Kate Gosselin’s Style Evolution (Rex USA (2) via InStyle.com) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image:
    Jayne Fincher/Getty; Davidson/O'Neill/Rex via InStyle.com
    Above: Slideshow (13) Kate Middleton’s princess style
  2. Mario Testino / Art Partner
    Slideshow (27) A royal couple’s long courtship
  3. Image: Storms And Strong Winds Batter UK Coastal Areas
    Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    Slideshow (51) The lives of princes

Timeline: A history of British royal weddings

Take a look back at the gorgeous and famous British royal weddings in the last 80 years.

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