Viral Fashion: How the Facebook Wedding Dress Turned Priscilla Chan Into an Unlikely Style Star

Viral Fashion: How the Facebook Wedding Dress Turned Priscilla Chan Into an Unlikely Style Star
Priscilla Chan wearing Claire Pettibone with husband Mark Zuckerberg
(Photo by Noah Kalina; Courtesy Facebook)

In the four days since Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on his Facebook page that he tied the knot with Priscilla Chan, his girlfriend of nine years, a lot has changed. He switched his status to married, posting a photograph of himself in a black tie and suit, standing alongside his new bride, who looked angelic in her Claire Pettibone laser-cut floral wedding gown and veil. So far, the post has garnered more than 1.2 million likes, the most ever for Zuckerberg, and also turned Chan into an unwilling fashion star.

Call it the Priscilla Chan effect. The picture that marked the surprise nuptials sent thousands of brides-to-be into a frenzied search for the $4,700 wedding dress, known as “Sky Between the Branches.” The L.A.-based designer was bombarded with phone calls Sunday and Monday. Bridal shops tweeted that they had the Claire Pettibone gown, which is embellished with matte sequins lined in silk, in stock. Even more telling, the designer’s Web site experienced a surge in traffic, jumping from its average 1,500 unique visitors to 26,000 on Monday, reported WWD.

We saw this last year when Kate Middleton married Prince William. Her Alexander McQueen gown spawned endless copies and everybody wanted a royal wedding. But this was the woman who was marrying the future King of England, not a Silicon Valley tech billionaire.

Why would women want to follow in Chan’s fashion footsteps? Her style sense, while sharper than her husband’s trademark hoodies, consists of basic T-shirts, skirts, flip-flops, and summery dresses. It’s not bad, just not remarkable. Perhaps it’s the contrast between Chan’s regular sartorial selections and her wedding day ensemble that intrigued the thousands who visited Pettibone’s Web site. She looked stunning at her wedding — exactly what every bride-to-be wants on her special day.

The low-key Chan, who just graduated from medical school, even kept her dress shopping under wraps, ordering it from a bridal salon. The designer, who has made dresses for celebrities like “Mad Men” actress Elisabeth Moss, only discovered her newfound stardom when her husband noticed the gown after he saw the news that Zuckerberg and Chan had wed – they suspect that the dress was ordered under a fake name, according to BuzzFeed Shift. At just under $5,000 the dress is on the pricier side, but still within reach for some and practically a bargain for Chan, whose husband is worth about $19 billion following Facebook’s IPO. Chan could have easily afforded a designer known for high-profile wedding dresses, like Vera Wang or even Alexander McQueen.

Copies are likely to follow — Pettibone’s Italian fabric supplier contacted her company to “to warn them that another designer wanted to purchase the exact fabric of Chan’s gown, but, lucky for Claire, she has the exclusive rights to that particular beaded fabric,” reported WWD.

Has the Facebook wedding dress catapulted Chan into fashion icon status? We think it’s unlikely, but the coming months will tell – perhaps her outfits will spark sudden Internet traffic spikes, causing dresses to go flying out of stores.