Said Cyrus, head designer at Catherine Walker, took PEOPLE inside the brand's London studio

By Simon Perry
March 19, 2018 01:36 PM
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s May 19 wedding is shortly approaching, and with spring’s added attractions of palace garden parties and horse races Royal Ascot (alongside Queen Elizabeth!), there are a few big decisions on the horizon: What to wear?

Catherine Walker, the design house most associated with the late Princess Diana and a current favorite of Kate Middleton (she just wore one of the designer’s outfits on St. Patrick’s Day) and her mother Carole Middleton as well as other royals and celebrities, has launched its latest collection – which includes a number of outfits perfect for a royal wedding guest.

The brand’s Head of Design, Said Cyrus, widower of the late Catherine Walker, gave PEOPLE a sneak peek of some of the latest spring-summer 2018 collection. Though Cyrus is discreet about his clients and will not discuss Harry and Meghan’s upcoming wedding, or any possible guests that the designer might be dressing for the occasion, he says that their selection is “very appropriate” for the big day.

Princess Diana in a Catherine Walker ensemble in November 1989
| Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images

“We have a very strong 1950s influence which I feel is very feminine, very appropriate for occasion-wear,” he says.

Pointing out a vintage-inspired scarlet silk faille dress with pleats and a full skirt, he adds: “We have a number of pieces in our new collection that are suitable for mothers of the bride and for other occasion wear in the summer season.”

“One of the most important features of the spring-summer collection is the part it plays in events such as Royal Ascot horse racing,” Cyrus says. “Worn with the right hat they would be perfect for that event. It is perfect for transitioning from day to evening, whether it is cocktail or a summer wedding.”

Kate wears a Catherine Walker outfit in Berlin, Germany in July 2017
| Credit: Franziska Krug/Getty

His preferred look for ladies attending a formal event? The coat dress, a favorite look of Princess Kate’s.

“These are ideal for weddings where you need to look the part during the day but also transition into the evening,” Cyrus says. “I like to use one-piece coat dresses rather than suits, which are jackets and skirts or dresses, as I think they are very elongating and by virtue of that elongation are quite flattering. Although there is a silhouette that looks like it’s a jacket and dress, it’s not. It’s all one piece.”

Cyrus and his wife Catherine Walker, who died in 2010, founded Catherine Walker & Co in 1977. In the 1980s and 90s, the duo became famous for dressing Diana. They continued to work with her after her separation and subsequent divorce from Prince Charles. In memory of Catherine, the design house adopted the butterfly as its the emblem, and a set of delicate monochrome butterflies decorate the bodice of a crepe dress.