Meghan introduced her new born son to the world in a white sleeveless tuxedo dress, a bespoke £1,650 design by a rising star of British fashion, Grace Wales Bonner
When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex introduced their newborn son to the world, it was not just baby Archie who stepped into the limelight. Also taking centre stage was Meghan’s white sleeveless tuxedo dress, a bespoke £1,650 design by a rising star of British fashion, Grace Wales Bonner.
It is, no doubt, every promising newcomer’s dream to have their brand boosted by ‘the Meghan effect’ – the instant rise in sales and recognition which follows the Duchess’s decision to wear a designer’s clothes.
But this time, her fashion choice has raised eyebrows – because, unusually for Meghan, the brand was British.
Today marks the Royal couple’s first wedding anniversary and a year since Meghan made the transition from Hollywood actress to a senior member of the Royal Family. In the process, she has been lauded as a global fashion icon.
Yet an in-depth analysis by The Mail on Sunday has revealed that although she may have embraced a more British way of life, her fashion choices have been considerably less than patriotic.
Pictured: Wearing a coat by Sentaler and dress by Aritzia – both Canadian designers and a bag by American Gabriella Hearst in Birkenhead in January)
Indeed, of the 74 dresses the Duchess has worn in public during the past 12 months, just 19 – 26 per cent – were designed by Brits.
Remarkably, almost the same proportion – 23 per cent – came from French fashion houses, with a handful of frocks from German, Italian, Swedish and Australian designers.
And the rest? Her tastes, just like her upbringing, remain distinctly all-American – more than one third of her dresses (39 per cent) were either by US or Canadian brands.
Meghan, wearing a coat by Italian brand Emporio Armani and pregnancy dress by Swedish budget brand H&M
Meghan and Prince Harry exiting Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day in March. Meghan is wearing a matching coat and dress from Victoria Beckham
Wearing a custom cream roll-neck dress by Calvin Klein and a £895 coat by royal favourite British designer Amanda Wakeley (left) Meghan at the British Fashion Awards, wearing a black one-shoulder dress by Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy (right)
While the Duchess may be known for her reluctance to adhere to Royal traditions, this choice has drawn criticism from courtiers.
During an interview on Friday, British fashion designer David Emanuel – who made Princess Diana’s wedding dress – revealed he is disappointed by how few British labels Meghan has worn.
‘I followed the Royal tour when she was in Australia, Fiji and Tonga and I think there were only three British designers represented,’ he revealed.
Meghan appeared to take inspiration from the Queen as she opted for a bright yellow shift dress by American Brandon Maxwell for a Commonwealth youth reception with Prince Harry
A bottle green wool number by Canadian designer Erdem Moralioglu – the entire ensemble is estimated to have cost around £8,000 by celebrity stylist Lucas Armitage (left). Wearing American designer Brandon Maxwell mini dress and blazer (right)
Of Meghan’s Givenchy silk wedding dress (a French fashion house), David said: ‘It much have cost a small fortune – French couture is not inexpensive. Please Meghan, buy British!’
Meanwhile, the rest of the Royal Family make a conscious effort to support British brands and, crucially, boost the UK economy in the process. The Queen favours Angela Kelly, while the Duchess of Cambridge is known to juggle top-tier brands such as Alexander McQueen with up-and-coming British labels and High Street favourites.
Who makes the Duchess’s gowns?
American – 26 – 35 per cent
British – 19 – 26 per cent
French – 17 – 23 per cent
Australian – 3 – 4 per cent
Canadian – 3 – 4 per cent
Swedish – 2 – 3 per cent
Other – 4 – 5 per cent
The same, however, cannot be said for the Duchess, who has been promoting already well-known designers from the other side of the Atlantic, including Carolina Herrera, Club Monaco, Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Lauren. Other US brands benefiting include Veronica Beard, Jason Wu and Hatch Collection.
In July last year, the Duchess chose a £1,300 canary yellow shift dress by Brandon Maxwell, the US designer who has worked as Lady Gaga’s stylist since 2012, for a reception in London. But it could also indicate that her choices are being guided by her Canadian best friend Jessica Mulroney, who is rumoured to be her unofficial stylist.
Ms Mulroney, who met Meghan while she was filming US legal drama Suits in Toronto, is married to the son of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney.
She took a starring role in the Royal Wedding last year, when her twin sons, Brian and John, were page boys and her daughter Ivy a bridesmaid.
Meghan’s silk wedding dress was designed by French fashion house Givenchy. Pictured: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and the Duchess of Sussex depart after their wedding ceremony at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle
She has always denied helping the Duchess with her style. Yet given that she is known to be a strong advocate for Canadian designers, there is reason to believe she may have at least some influence. Last July, for example, Meghan wore a £637 blush pink sleeveless trench dress by Canadian brand House of Nonie to a Nelson Mandela exhibition in London. But it was Ms Mulroney that the label’s founder, Nina Kharey, thanked on Instagram after the event, writing: ‘Thank you Jessica Mulroney #wearcanada #proud.’
Despite the North American patronage, it is Meghan’s decision to give her custom to European fashion houses such as Givenchy, Prada and Dior which will perhaps put most Royal noses out of joint.
Givenchy’s creative director Clare Waight Keller, who has designed 11 of her gowns – including the Duchess’s £200,000 wedding dress – may be a Brit herself, but the fashion house has its headquarters in Paris, which means there is no accompanying boost to the British economy.
Quite what the Queen makes of it all is anyone’s guess. Certainly it will be considered a missed opportunity, given the extent of the Duchess’s fashion influence.
Vogue editor Edward Enninful has suggested ‘the Meghan effect’ could eclipse even the influence of the Duchess of Cambridge, who boosts the economy to the tune of up to £1 billion a year just by wearing home-grown fashion brands.
When Meghan does single out a British designer for her attention, it has a significant effect on sales. Designers such as Stella McCartney, who created the halterneck silk gown for Meghan and Harry’s wedding reception, has done well thanks to her patronage.
By choosing a Grace Wales Bonner dress to show off Archie she has given the brand a huge boost. This weekend, many of its designs had sold out on designer online boutique Net- a-Porter.
And the handbag that Meghan wore during her first Royal engagement in December 2017 – by fledgling Scottish brand Strathberry – helped transform the company into a global enterprise.
Which rather begs the question: why have only a quarter of Meghan’s frocks been British?