Kate Hits The High Street!

13 December 2010

Grazia Daily is, as expected, beyond excited by the freshly released engagement photos of Kate Middleton and Prince William, shot by the photographic legend that is Mario Testino. The two images show Kate and William in typically informal poses, and whilst Wills looks undeniably dapper in a Turnbull & Asser suit, it is Kate’s outfits which Grazia Daily has, naturally, been drawn to like moths to a naked flame.

In the more formal of the two portraits (above), Kate wears a cream three quarter sleeved 'Nannette' dress by Reiss, which originally cost £159, from the store’s A/W ’10 collection. The dress is (dammit) no longer available in the shops, although we have word directly from Reiss HQ that the dress is a part of the Reiss core line, and a version will be available at the end of January ‘11. David Reiss, founder and MD said ‘Kate has been a customer of Reiss for some time now and we are absolutely delighted that she chose to wear one of our dresses for such a wonderful occasion.’ Aww.

If you can’t wait until January, there remains one specimen on sale on ebay, currently hovering at £179, having last week been priced at £99. In the less formal picture (below), Kate wears an embroidered silk Whistles blouse, with a spokesperson saying today 'we are delighted that Katherine has chosen to wear Whistles in her engagement photographs. The blouse, which is 100% silk, is from the very first collection under the leadership of Jane Shepherdson'. In addition, 'due to a surge of customer interest we will be re-releasing the ‘Kate’ blouse as a limited edition in early 2011’. Altogether now: eep!

With this level of interest in what she wears, Kate looks set to become a kind of Michelle Obama figure for British fashion; a global champion for home grown designs. Kate wore three high-end high street British labels for the official engagement shoot (Whistles, Reiss and Links of London). Michelle Obama, who often wears American labels like J Crew, has reportedly boosted the economic value of the brands she chooses by an estimated $2.7 billion dollars since moving into the White House in 2009.

The role of international fashion ambassador which Kate looks set to step into has remained unfilled since the death of William’s mother Diana in 1997. But the most notable difference between Kate (and Michelle) and Diana, however, is that whilst Diana’s outfits prompted countless imitations, her clothes were often unattainable and unwearable in their original form. Kate and Michelle, on the other hand, favour a dressed-down style which can easily be translated into the real world. Albeit a "real world" which relies on not spilling things on quite a lot of cream.

Kate has, of course, grown up in a world where the high street is a fashion destination all of its own, and her choice of Reiss dress, Links of London earrings and embroidered Whistles blouse for her engagements pictures reflects this. Diana rarely wore high street, and certainly never used it for public events, but the high street of the '80s and '90s was a very different place from today's. Where the emphasis then was on producing low-priced copies of designer collections, these days the high street is full of original designs at a whole range of prices and levels of quality. High street designers, too, are considered main players in a way they have not been in the past - Whistles’ CEO Jane Shepherdson and Topshop’s Head of Design Karen Bonser, are seen to be equally as influential as the likes of Mulberry designer Emma Hill and Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey.

So would Diana be wearing high street fashion today, had she lived? By the end of her life, she had migrated from fussy and over-complicated daywear to simple, Jackie O-esque Versace suits, but unlike Kate, she had a very definite work wardrobe that consisted of jacket, blouses and skirts. Gucci’s Frida Giannini says that she could see ’Diana in Chanel; it would be a kind of classic style’ had she been alive now. Grazia Daily suspects that Diana would, like Kate, have utilized the highstreet in a way she had not done previously; Jaeger London, Banana Republic and J Crew all offer designs which may well have suited the Princess as she aged in the public eye.

So, whilst we’re yet to see the full effect Kate will have on the British fashion scene, it seems likely that her style is set to be every bit as influential as both the current US First Lady and her future husband's mother. Which, thinks Grazia Daily, can only be a good thing for the British fashion industry.

- Alex Butt

Alex Butt is Grazia Daily's self-appointed Royal Correspondent. In coming months, Alex will be reporting on all matters pertaining to the forthcoming nuptials in excruciating detail right here on the site. Should you have any burning questions, style musings or historical facts you would like investigating, Alex would be delighted to hear from you. Please post your thoughts below and Alex will try and pick up on as many as possible in his reports.


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