Phillipa Lepley has emerged as the favourite to design Kate Middleton's wedding dress.

Speculation has been rife as to who will create Kate's gown when she marries Prince William next year ever since their engagement was announced earlier this week, and now renowned British designer Phillipa has emerged as the frontrunner.

Phillipa - whose odds have been slashed from 25/1 to 3/1 - opened her first bridal shop in London in 1990 and has earned a reputation for designing simple and elegant wedding dresses, made with luxurious fabrics and laces.

While Phillipa, 41, refused to comment on the speculation, Rupert Adams, spokesman for bookmaker William Hill, said: "There has been a real weight of money behind Phillipa, which would normally suggest that she is at the very least on the shortlist to design the dress."

The second favourite for the coveted job is Daniella Issa Helayel after Kate wore an electric blue dress from her collection at her first public appearance with William after their engagement was announced.

The £399 dress sold out within hours of the photocall.

It is thought Kate will chose a British designer to create her gown with Bruce Oldfield, Vivienne Westwood, Amanda Wakeley, Stella Mccartney and Alice Temperley also in the running.

Kate and William will marry in London next year although the date and venue are yet to be confirmed.