Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Why the fashion world refuses to acknowledge Duchess Kate as a style icon and Why fans of Kate prove them wrong

I was doing my daily search for Kate related news today and I've noticed a trend among articles. It seems the fashion world and a healthy number of journalists refuse to accept Kate as a fashion icon. After the recent 'Bridal Fashion Week' the press joyfully wrote there was no "discernible Kate Middleton effect"
British bespoke wedding dress designer Sassi Holford said,

"The long sleeved demure look was already emerging before Kate Middleton appeared in her Sarah Burton designed gown. Five years ago, It was all strapless. The last two years - and more this year than any other people say, I don't want strapless, What can you offer me".

Below a model wears a gown by Sassi Holford which seems very Kate inspired to me.....

Other designers including Matthew Williamson and Gregory Nato spoke along the same lines. You can read the article Here. There is absolutely no doubt Kate has influenced bridal trends. I'm sure most of you who have attended weddings this year have noticed lace, longer sleeves and boleros being worn by brides more so than in previous years.

TV fashion presenter Mary Portas felt the need to criticise the Duchess too saying "Is that fashion? No. I do not know how can you say she is a fashion icon. I just don't get that". Portas, not known for mincing her words, recently labelled the female members of the British Cabinet "an ugly bunch".

Others including designer Vivienne Westwood have made similar comments. However designers such as Alice Temperly and Julien MacDonald have spoke out in favour of Kate's style with MacDonald stating Kate is "chic and sophisticated". I've decided to take a look at trends Kate has inspired and why I think she is a fashion icon. With thanks to the Daily Mail for putting an excellent article together documenting Kate's fashion influence.

Firstly 'The Kate effect' has been simply amazing for the retailers she chooses. British high street label Reiss (they currently have up to 40% off on selected lines :) had to reissue the £159 dress she wore for the engagement photos while their website crashed after Kate wore their Shola dress while meeting the Obamas. London based label Alexander McQueen experienced a fifty percent increase in turnover compared to the previous year after Kate wore a Sarah Burton wedding gown. In these recessionary times, Kate is a huge asset to British labels who need all the business they can get. 

No one can deny the massive popularity of Nude court shoes since Kate has been photographed wearing her favourite L.K. Bennett Sledge 2 Pumps. Even Carole and Pippa Middleton are fans..........(You know you're a trendsetter when you're mother and sister want to emulate your look :)) At Zara Phillips' wedding it was pointed out almost every woman in attendance was wearing nude court shoes.

From Kate's wedding gown to the Royal tour and most recently while attending a wedding, Kate is clearly a fan of lace. Classic dresses with clean lines look spectacular with lace detail. It's a look that works wonderfully for the Duchess and any woman can emulate it. Journalist Jessica Vince wrote "Middleton mania has influenced every designer, most notably through lace sleeves that repli Kate the famous Alexander McQueen gown of Royal Wedding day".

Kate's stunning sapphire and diamond engagement ring, originally Princess Diana's sparked a trend for colourful gemstones. Replicas of Kate's ring sold out all over the world. Dervla Cogan from By Brillians jewellery company said

 "In the run up to the Royal wedding we constantly had customers visit our shop and emailing our website requesting a similar piece to Kate's engagement ring. We created a piece inspired by the famous ring and it was hugely popular. It sold out before the big day and people who wanted it had to be put on a waiting list. Even after the wedding it continues to be one of our best selling items".

These are but a few of the trends Kate has inspired but what is the true testament of a style icon? Is it someone designers are influenced by? Someone who makes the headlines? In my opinion a true style icon is someone who is admired and emulated by people like you and me. From your average college student, businesswoman, homemaker and fashionista, Kate's style is loved. Women want to dress like her. 

I asked some wonderful fans of Kate's style what they love about her look. I would like to sincerely thank each of them for taking the time to participate. It is greatly appreciated.

Chiara via Twitter "How she's always appropriate wears the perfect thing according to the event and her role".

Kate Middleton Fans via Twitter "I love how her style is timeless, yet accentuated with such grace. She truly is such an icon, and everyone can wear it".

Alyssa Via Twitter "She's classic and elegant, not overdone. Clean lines, sticks to what works.

Pamela Via Twitter "She always looks effortless. Sounds cliche, but true. She wears clothes, they don't wear her. Never overdone".

Anne Marie Via What Kate Wore Facebook "Several things. I really like choosing things she has worn (the exact not a copy) because it always is very high quality, and has, I guess you would say, a little twist to it. Like the ruffle on the bottom of the trench coat,..".

Brittney Mick Via WKW Facebook "I love how glamorous yet effortless she looks".

Jami Via WKW Facebook "I am also young like Kate and I really like that she is making it stylish to dress conservative, but cute and classy. You don't need to dress trashy to get noticed".

Amber Via WKW Facebook "I love how she "recycles" her clothes as they say. She is not afraid to be photographed in it twice. I love how she wears pantyhose. But I think we can all agree we like her conservative, classy attire".

Dolores Via WKW Facebook "I also like her influence on young girls. She's showing them that you can be beautiful and elegant without being trendy, and garish".

Alyssia Via the blog "I personally love her style, her courage to put sophistication back on the map (so sick of this Lady GaGa/it's OK to dress like a ho fad), and the way she pulls it all off by wearing (for the most part) reasonably priced clothing in a way which makes even the least of us feel as if we can always channel our inner princess. Most of all, and beyond her "style icon" status, she is a good person, an exceptional lady, an advocate for humanity and charity. And that's what makes her one of my favorite people on the planet".

The general opinion appears to be that it's Kate's classy, effortless style we all love. It's attainable, yet glamorous. Affordable, yet chic. Modern, yet classic....................
Why do you all love Kate's style? If you would like your comment added to the list please let me know :)
Again a huge thank you to the women who contributed to this post. Kate has some wonderful fans :)

Sources (Daily Mail, What Kate Wore Facebook, Twitter,Wall Street Post)


  1. Wonderful, wonderful post. I personally love her style, her courage to put sophistication back on the map (so sick of this Lady GaGa/it's OK to dress like a ho fad), and the way she pulls it all off by wearing (for the most part) reasonably priced clothing in a way which makes even the least of us feel as if we can always channel our inner princess. Most of all, and beyond her "style icon" status, she is a good person, an exceptional lady, an advocate for humanity and charity. And that's what makes her one of my favorite people on the planet.

    Again, great post, dear. Thanks for all you do.

  2. As always thank you so much for your kind comments and for always contributing to the blog Alyssia. It is much appreciated.

    May I add your comment to the list? :)

  3. But of course you can! I'm honored!! :)

  4. While her influence on fast fashion is undeniable, I don't think some of the sources cited are wrong at all.

    I am very tall and work in a conservative environment and it has always been difficult to find retailers where clothes are long enough and cover up enough. That changed about two years ago, it started getting easier finding knee-length dresses and dresses with sleeves. So I would agree KM picked up on an emerging trend and catalyzed and catapulted it into full mainstream to the point where even H&M carries ladylike dresses now. Well done her!

    On the wedding front, I have to fully disagree though. At least in Europe, the lace and sleeves have been a huge trend for a couple of years. I would credit the increasing popularity of Spanish design houses (Pronovias, Esposa, Elie Saab) with that development. When I got married in summer of 2010, I wore a dress with sleeves and lots of lace and had no trouble finding it. My friend was also married that summer and she opted for a sleeveless dress with a long-sleeved lace bolero. Her dress looked almost exactly like Kate Middleton's. The first time I saw KM's dress, I texted my friend to pity her because we expected everyone to copy that style going forward. And honestly, 30 years down the road nobody will know my friend's dress came a few months earlier. Everyone will just say: Oh, soo KM and so 2011. Luckily, so far that hasn't been the case. However, lots of brides already had their dresses for this wedding season by the time of the Royal Wedding, so I would expect we won't be able to fully judge this until next year. While I believe KM has the potential to catalyze an emerging trend and would credit her with the good taste of only picking up on those trends that suit her and her role, I wouldn't say she is a trend"setter". More of a trend catalyst.

  5. Thank you Alyssia, Wonderful comment :)

    Anonymous - You make an excellent point about many brides from this year having their gowns chosen before the royal wedding. It will be interesting to see next years brides for sure.
    I just feel there is a certain reluctance from the fashion word to accept Kate as a style icon.

    If any of you would like your comments added to the list please let me know via comment here :)
    I would love to include them all!!

  6. Another thing I have noticed is that advertisers are using young women who resemble Kate to market their products. Once you start looking you'll notice it too...

  7. Well spotted e.

    On the runways at fashion week. The number of models with hair like Kate's was astonishing.

  8. Hi!
    I'm here to congratulate you for this amazing post. I'm from Brazil and everyone here is wearing lace and nude shoes. I just can not understand why those people keep saying that she's not a fashion icon. Of course she is. And most important, she brought back the classic/conservative style and showed to every woman that you can be modern and beautiful wearing pantyhose, for example. I'm really glad for that. Women don't need to dress like Britney Spears to feel sexy and confident.

  9. Hi Ana B,

    Thank you for your great comment, I do think young women feel pressurised to dress like Britney Spears or as Alyssia said emulate Lady gaga, It's wonderful for us to have a fashion icon like Kate who is the epitome of class and elegance,
    I'm delighted to hear brazilian women are following Kate's style.
    She reminds me so much of Grace Kelly sometimes.....

  10. hey I just stumbled upon this post from months ago but still couldn't help but comment.
    I just adore her style because it is simply wearable for anyone. You don't have to get out and copy her exact outfits (I am not really a fan of copying people top to toe) but I do find her outfits very inspiring and easily altered for people with little money.
    Of course people like Vivianne Westwood wouldn't think her a style icon! Look at the clothes she designes. She probably has a completely different perception of what a fashion icon is all about. For her it is probably about someone wearing new, unsual clothes that are NOT suitable for everyday life.
    Her clothes are new and fun to look at but I wouldn't walk out of my front door in them.
    But Kate is the exact opposite of that. Kate is a fashion icon because she chooses things anyone can wear anywhere (and is still fun to look at!). And through that she helps us "channel our inner princess" as Alyssa put it so perfectly. She makes us feel like princesses because we can easily emulate her style which is affordable, timeless, wearable no matter where you live and of course it is chic. It is conservative but it always has a twist so it never looks boring. It is always fun to look at what she chooses even if it's a piece I wouln't wear myself. It is always beautiful.
    I think the mania about what Kate wears just shows the "hunger" for the majority of the women and girls out there around the globe to have someone show them how to dress appropriate for everyday life.
    And if you are watching your teenage cousin grow up it is good to know that there is a famous role model out there that shows girls that you don't have to be practically naked in order to be a showstopper.
    Ah I could go on about this for hours but this post is too long already.
    I just love Kate.



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