By Lee Pinkerton
At the start of May, third-year University of East London (UEL) Fashion Design student Sydney Garrett was putting the final touches on her final assessment portfolio.
But as busy as she was, Sydney just had to make time to work on a dress design for arguably the most important social event of the 2018 calendar – the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle.
Though Sydney isn’t actually dressing Ms Markle, she did produce a design in response to a callout from the BBC for fashion students to create dress ideas for the future duchess. Sydney said, “It’s been a fun exploration of what this wedding could be and what it could represent.”
Sydney is one of just five students chosen to have their work showcased on the BBC website. A film crew visited Sydney at UEL’s Docklands campus to talk about her ideas.
Being African-American herself, from New Jersey, Sydney said she feels some affinity with Ms Markle.
She joked, “Doing research on Meghan I felt a bit like her stalker for a while. I was carrying around so many pictures of her, I felt like people were soon going to start judging me.
“I’ve noticed that her style seems to be very simple and elegant, so that’s why I kept a lot of classic details. But at the same time, this wedding is a massive deal. To even get to this point, I can’t imagine the stress they must have been under, and how much they had to fight for it.
“So you would want to celebrate that with something absolutely fabulous. I think that she would want to embrace that, and not shy away from it.”
In search of inspiration, Sydney also delved into her own family archives.
She said, “I found pictures of me and my brother when we were little, on special occasions like Christmas and Easter. And I ran with the whole childhood thing, because we have such an affinity with our childhoods and it’s such a part of who we are and how we’ve gotten to be where we are.”
The idea for Sydney’s design eventually came from images of Easter Sunday.
She said, “I found all of these lovely old images of children at Easter. Easter Sunday is such a massive thing in the African-American community. That’s when you would get a brand new dress, and it would always have been something poufy and white and beautiful.”
But Sydney decided not to go with traditional all-white as the colour for the dress. Instead, she chose flashes of yellow.
She explained, “This isn’t Meghan first wedding. I feel that she might not actually want to be in white. Maybe she would want a splash of colour.”
If you would like to see Sydney's design (and all of the others) in more detail go to the BBC news website.