I’ve often wondered if some designers should be held accountable for crimes against fashion, and subsequently, what we have chosen to wear over the years. You only have to look back at the 1960s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, especially when those outfits make a comeback, to see fashion victims in platform heels or leg warmers. Like avocado coloured bathroom suites, we should nuke them out of existence.
As there is no accounting for taste, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kate Middleton was recently voted the UK’s official style icon. According to cash-back app Rakuten, 29 per cent of women aspire to dress like the Duchess of Cambridge. Admittedly, it’s not a very large percentage, but I find this odd when you consider how many amazingly fashionable women there are out there, not least Amal Clooney. Not only is she married to George, but she mixes brains, beauty and style, and there are plenty of other British style icons like Kate Moss or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or Jodie Comer.
I know people think that Kate treads a fine line, and she wears what her royal status requires. Regardless of what Kate puts on, she generally looks like a well-dressed Boden model, stiff, well-coiffed, lacking any oomph. Her middle of the road looks match her middle of the road style.
There is something about the British Royals that can’t do real glamour, especially compared to their Continental counterparts; they don’t have an innate style or sex appeal. It’s grossly unfair but Princess Beatrice and Eugenie can’t compete with Princess Caroline of Monaco, her daughter Charlotte Casiraghi and her sister-in-law Beatrice Borromeo Casiraghi. Not only are all of them immeasurably beautiful, but they dress with enormous panache whether they are wearing jeans and a T-shirt or couture. Queen Letizia of Spain has style in spades, as does Jordan’s Queen Rania.
One of the pictures that best sums up the difference between in the glamour debate was when French President Nicolas Sarkozy came to the UK in 2008. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah looked frumpy next to supermodel Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who dazzled in Dior. While former prime minister Theresa May always wore fashionable clothes and looked neat and trim, she lacked any style. Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, had immense style, something the French have as part of their DNA.
I do like that the Duchess of Cambridge recycles her outfits and wears her clothes season after season. In the era of fast fashion, I want to recall what British handbag designer Anya Hindmarch said: a bag is for life. Despite the occasional fabulous frock, Kate plays safe with her style, in training for her position as Queen, dull, and middle of the road and perhaps in touch with her public, making it real and relevant although why she couldn’t dress with more flair is a mystery. Despite what you might think of Meghan Markle, in the style stakes, she rocks it.
It seems like an odd time to talk of style while Washington DC is burning, in scenes from the American capital that only the other day no one could have imagined. It’s an unbelievable end to the President’s term, and Donald Trump’s exit from the White House can’t come soon enough. The only thing that I will miss is Melania’s great sense of style. The only other First Lady to rival her was Jackie Kennedy back in the early 1960s.
Jackie Kennedy is part of a long list of women who look fabulous, from Angelina Jolie to Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber. Hailey, the model wife of singer Justin looked incredible in her post-wedding Vera Wang bias-cut gown that she wore with sneakers. Fashion is all about self-expression. As Coco Chanel said, fashion fades, only style remains the same.