LONDON: It's all about the dress – and the hats.
Floppy, feathered, bold and expensive – hats were in full force Friday as guests streamed into Westminister Abbey for Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding.
Some looked like dinner plates. Others were so large they covered faces. One woman wore a bright red fascinator – a hairpiece attached to a clip or a comb – that resembled a flame licking her cheek.
Irish designer Philip Treacy made most of the hats for royals attending the wedding – 36 in all that included creations for Prince Charles' wife, the duchess of Cornwall, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Princess Michael of Kent, Queen Anna-Marie of Greece and Princess Mathilde of Belgium.
He also designed a hat for Hollywood royalty: Victoria Beckham wore a midnight blue Treacy hat. And dozens of less famous guests wore his creations – many resembling architectural works meant to elongate and frame the face.
''These hats are the ultimate accessory,'' Treacy told The Associated Press. ''And there's no more of an occasion than a royal wedding.''
Treacy has spent months making royal wedding creations that can cost more than 1,000 pounds ($1,600). He joked that he planned to take a short break now.
Carole Middleton, the bride's mother, wore a sky blue wool crepe coatdress with matching satin piping over a sky blue silk shantung day dress. Both were designed by the Catherine Walker fashion house. Walker died of cancer last September; ahe frequently dressed the late Princess Diana.
Middleton's hat was created by British designer Jane Corbett.
Prime Minister David Cameron's wife, Samantha, broke with tradition: she wore a sparkly hair clip instead of a hat, and a tight turquoise dress.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's wife Miriam Gonzalez Duantez _ a Spanish attorney _ sent tongues wagging with a body-hugging dress draped with lace and a red hat. ''Hers has to be the sexiest outfit here,'' said one media commentator.
Princess Beatrice, the daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, was wearing an ensemble of Valentino couture and gloves by Cornelia James. Her sister, Princess Eugenie, was wearing an outfit by Vivienne Westwood.
Zara Phillips, the queen's granddaughter, was wearing Paul Costelloe. The couple's friend, Tara Palmer Tomkinson was wearing Deborah Milner. The wedding presents a golden opportunity for designers. Many replica hats and dresses are expected to be in shops this week.
Victoria Beckham wore a dress of her own design: the dark tones of the smock-like maternity gown had a slightly funereal look. Her husband David wore a top hat with tails and the medal signifying that he is an officer of the order of the British empire.
The duchess of Cornwall will be wearing Anna Valentine. She designed Camilla's dress for her 2005 wedding to Prince Charles.
A handful of Italian designers are making appearances. Prince Harry's on again off again girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, chose two custom-made Alberta Ferretti looks – an aqua green satin dress for the abbey and an asymmetric, midnight blue satin gown for the evening. Prince William's former girlfriend, Olivia Hunt, is expected to wear a Gucci dress.