Why Kim Kardashian’s Wedding Dress Designer Stands To Make Millions

Leah Bourne
USC Shoah Foundation's 20th Anniversary Gala - Show

Photo: Getty

It’s a pretty foolish fact, but one that’s unavoidable: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s upcoming nuptials are drawing comparisons to the royal wedding. Taking place on May 24 in Florence, the wedding has been getting feverish coverage everywhere from fashion and entertainment blogs to The New York Times. The biggest question surrounding the upcoming wedding: Who will design Kim’s wedding dress?

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With just hours away from the nups—and with rumors having stretched from Valentino to Vera Wang to Riccardo Tisci as designers of the dress—one thing is for certain, whoever has been chosen stands to make millions from the endorsement—it’s the kind of publicity any designer would kill for.

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Just consider what happened the last time that Kardashian walked down the aisle in 2011 to marry Kris Humphries. Interest was so high in what she was wearing, photos were reportedly sold to People magazine for $1.5 million. The wedding was broadcast in two parts on E!, with 4.4 million viewers tuning in to watch the first part, and another 4 million viewers tuning in the next night to watch the second part.

Designer Vera Wang designed three dresses for the wedding and even appeared on the E! wedding special. While Wang is known as the go-to for celebrity wedding gowns, it was still a major coup. given Kim’s overwhelming visibility. She added two dresses to her White by Vera Wang collection for David’s Bridal inspired by the one-of-a-kind dresses she designed for Kardashian’s wedding, which ironically hit stores after Kardashian’s divorce was underway.

Keep in mind this was three years ago, before Kardashian had morphed from bandage dress-wearing reality star to Givenchy-clad fashion star. From the Lanvin dress she wore to the Met Gala earlier this month to Céline outfits she wears while running errands, every look that Kardashian wears these days is endlessly scrutinized. Celebrity magazines have reportedly been scrambling for a deal to buy photos from the upcoming wedding, with insiders claiming that if the wedding photos go anywhere, it will be Vogue.

Whomever Kardashian has chosen to work with for her wedding day, the exposure they will receive will be almost unmatched—with the single fashion moment all but guaranteed to get wall-to-wall coverage on TV, in magazines, and on social media platforms from Instagram to Twitter. It’s the kind of publicity that money can’t buy, but is worth millions.

Here, a look at the impact on various designers that were behind an iconic star’s wedding day look.

Kate Middleton’s Sarah Burton For Alexander McQueen Wedding Gown

Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen’s Creative Director, didn’t have much name recognition outside of fashion circles till her involvement in the royal wedding in 2011. The moment that Kate Middleton got out of her chauffeured Rolls-Royce and walked into Westminster Abbey though, Sarah Burton’s place in fashion history was cemented. It was a moment watched on television by 22.8 million people in the US alone, with an estimated three billion people having watched world wide.

Burton, who has called making Middleton’s dress an “experience of a lifetime,” has been reaping the rewards of the historical moment ever since. In November, 2011, she won Designer of the Year at the 2011 British Fashion Awards. The McQueen label (owned by luxury conglomerate Kering) experienced a jump in revenue in the third-quarter of 2011, thanks in no small part to exposure from the famous dress. And when the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its exhibit, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, directly following the royal wedding in May, 2011, the exhibit became the museum’s eighth most visited show in its history with 661,509 visitors in total.

Carolyn Bessette’s Narciso Rodriguez Wedding Gown

The late Carolyn Bessette chose friend Narciso Rodriguez to design her pearl-colored bias-cut silk wedding gown in 1996 for her wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr. The fashion moment both launched her friend’s fashion career and created wedding fashion trends that continue to this day.

Following the wedding, Rodriguez went on to debut his namesake line the following year in 1997. He won the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award in 2002 and 2003 (the fashion equivalent of an Oscar). And he’s dressed everyone from Michelle Obama to Claire Danes, since. Still, almost two-decades later, the gown he designed for Bessette remains one of the most notable moments of his career.

Britney Spears’ Monique Lhuillier Gown

Britney Spears married back-up dancer Kevin Federline in a surprise wedding in 2004, wearing Monique Lhuillier, and the wedding has often been credited with kiccking Lhuillier’s career into overdrive. Product placement guru Susan Ashbrook, who masterminded the pairing, wrote in her tell-all Will Work For Shoes: “I still can’t believe the wildfire of press Monique received, particularly in the celebrity weeklies. This one wedding took Moniuqe’s career to a whole new level. Britney was at the pinnacle of her career, and she’d pulled off a surprise wedding the press couldn’t get enough. A month later, Newsweek, which rarely does any kind of fashion writing, did a feature on Monique. Britney had done her job, and thanks to some fast thinking and worldwide reporting, my client walked into the spotlight overnight.” Since, Lhuillier has been considered a go-to for celebrities ranging from Gwyneth Paltrow to Katy Perry.

Are you excited to see what Kardashian wears to walk down the aisle this time around? Share your thoughts in the comments below!