Fashion’s power probably reached its zenith when Kate Middleton married the heir to the British dynastic throne of the United Kingdom in April 2011. Prince William had fallen in love with her, it is said, as she paraded down the catwalk at a charity Fashion show in their shared university town of St. Andrew’s, near Edinburgh, in Scotland. The signs of the harem had transmitted themselves to the virile young royal.
There is a Cinderella quality to this story and clothes played their part towards this happy ending. Not that Kate Middleton had set many fires, or brushed many hearths, but she now rides in glass coaches and wears diamond tiaras.
Her days at boarding school mixing with the Home Counties crowd, and Sloane Rangers set, put her on the right track. She’s an interesting mix of American preppy and English Burberry. Her love of the outdoors means she is not tempted to wear frilly fussy looks.
Her parents are friends with the people who run Jigsaw and Kate did a short stint as an accessories buyer with them. There’s an image of William and Kate, in jeans, to make the point that Fashion is for everyone in ‘the new black magic’*.
Some of the changes leading to the daughter of airline officers marrying an heir to a European throne have come through Fashion’s revolutions. They began when everyone wore versions of Christian Dior’s haute couture looks in the 40s and 50s. Then, Audrey Hepburn’s transformations in films Roman Holiday and Sabrina, from princess to pauper and back again, blurred edges. The films made European and American women see the power of clothes to alter status.
In the 1960s Mary Quant made fun clothes for dukes’, doctors’ or dockers’ daughters. Miuccui Prada dresses new generations of upwardly mobile professional women just as Coco Chanel did in the 40s and 50s.
Kate Middleton may live to regret showing off her underwear in a daring see-through creation during the 2002 charity Fashion show at St Andrews university. This was said to be the moment Prince William, paying £200 for the ticket, became besotted with her. But the sparkly Audrey Hepburn little black dress she chose when she and the prince were on a break will be recalled with much more affection.
I don’t think she could have got it more right with the classic silk jersey wrap dress by the London based ‘go-to’ designer Issa she wore for the engagement announcement nor when she appeared in Sarah Burton’s angelic, composed, First Communion lace outside Westminster Abbey. Will she ever wear jeans in public, again, I wonder?