Ever since she dazzled the world in Alexander McQueen on her royal wedding day, Kate Middleton proved that she has style in spades. But there’s no need to be a princess to actually dress like one; here, we reveal the Duchess’ go-to fashion designers and favourite fashion brands.
1. The British establishment
The new international style ambassador relies on a curated cohort of British fashion designers.
Alexander McQueen: Kate appears to have fashion designer Sarah Burton’s number on speed dial. Apart from the fairy tale of a royal wedding dress, the Duchess has been spotted in no less than five other McQueen ensembles, including a rather fetching knit sailor style dress worn on P.E.I. and ultra glam lavender goddess gown to walk the red carpet in L.A. for her North American tour. And if recent reports are true, expect to see many more head-to-toe looks over the holidays and into winter 2012. In Alexander McQueen and its brilliant successor, it’s clear Kate has developed an appreciation for stately, dramatic and extraordinary fashion design.
Burberry: No blue blood’s closet would be complete without a piece of this British fashion brand. The company, of course, is best known for its sturdy and iconic trench coats so when Catherine stepped out in a fitted double-breasted beige version with silver buttons and a flirty flared hem, it unsurprisingly achieved instant sell-out status.
Next label to look out for: Amanda Wakeley
While some have speculated that Catherine will opt to wear more Catherine Walker (a favourite of Princess Diana’s, she wore a grey dress from the label during the Canadian tour) we’re betting that she will want to forge her own sartorial path with Wakeley’s more glamorous designs.
Oh Canada! Find out which Canadian designers make the Duchess of Cambridge swoon on the next page…
2. The Canadians
Homegrown labels got a sprinkling of the Middleton magic even before she set foot on Canadian soil last summer. She’s proof that one can inspire diplomacy through sartorially savvy dress choices.
Erdem: Touted as Britain’s answer to Christian Lacroix, Kate took turns in a number of dresses by the Montreal-born, London-based fashion designer. The exquisite lacy blue sheaths had all the hallmarks of his style: beautiful, romantic, feminine and vibrant.
Smythe: Made in Canada was suddenly made very cool when Kate was snapped en route to Ottawa in the Canadian fashion designers gold-buttoned navy blazer over a form-fitting dress by Roland Mouret. It’s been reported that the Toronto-based design duo Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe undertook covert operations to get said jacket to Kensington Palace.
Next label to look out for: Jeremy Laing
While the Duchess hasn’t officially been spotted out in the Toronto wünderkind’s wares, we have it on good authority that Kate has placed an order.
Find out which designers Kate looks to for accessories on the next page…
3. The accessories
What makes Kate great? It’s all in the extras.
Aristoc: What, never heard of them? Frankly, neither had we. Turns out they’re the Duchess’ favourite source for silk stockings – yes, the nude hosiery that she’s famous for. While the fashion brand isn’t available in Canada, we hear Wolford’s transparent sheers are another favourite of her Highness’s great gams.
LK Bennett: To call Kate a fan of the brand would be an understatement. HRH made no less than nine repeats of those taupe patent sling-backs during the Canadian tour and she’s also been snapped in the London label’s black patent wedges, blush bow-trimmed stilettos, red strappy sandals, navy court shoes, and nude platforms, as well as a burgundy coloured coat on a trip to Denmark. We estimate a new fashion trend has been born.
Mulberry: The luxury label has developed a cult-like following for its highly crafted leather bags (the Alexa, named after Alexa Chung, has achieved it-bag status with Brit girls), and Kate has been known to carry several of their classic carryalls and clutches as well as making a recent appearance in Mulberry’s emerald peace-sign patterned dress.
Next label to look out for: Tabitha Simmons
A favourite of the fashion set (Simmons started out as a stylist), the Dela lizard pumps Catherine wore in Canada proved a welcome break from the ubiquitous LK Bennetts.
Find out which female designers Kate adores on the next page…
4. The female fashion designers
Much ink has been spilled on Kate’s personal and patriotic style. But not much has been said yet for her loyal support of labels helmed and designed by women. Issa: Designed by Brazilian-born Daniella Helayel, the London-based label has become virtually synonymous with Kate who has worn its dresses since 2005 and caused a storm when she stepped out in a delectably draped sapphire jersey frock for the official announcement of her royal engagement.
Jenny Packham: From sweet day dresses (see the buttercup number she wore in Calgary) to stunning sequin gowns (the blush confection for a charity dinner), the Duchess has elevated street style standards. With their beautifully feminine silhouettes and decadent decoration, these are looks directed toward the K-Mid constituency.
More royal style: KATE MIDDLETON’S top 5 hair styles of 2011
Temperley London: Alice Temperley’s eye-catching creations have walked many a red carpet so it’s not surprising that the Duchess and, by royal proxy, sister Pippa have taken to her eveningwear. Before her wedding, Kate was snapped in a cream-and-black bohemian dress and cream crochet number but post-wedding she stole the spotlight in a silver one-shoulder Grecian gown for a party at St. James Palace. Not to be outdone, Pippa was spotted at Temperley’s Spring 2012 runway show and opted for an emerald gown for Kate and Will’s wedding reception.
Katherine Hooker: The Cyprus-born designer has been a staple of Kate’s wardrobe since they met in 2005 and the Duchess has worn an endless array of her fitted blazers and impeccably cut coats.
Diane von Furstenberg: The label was a mainstay in her wardrobe before the royal wedding but with royal protocol favouring British fashion brands, the Princess is less likely to be sporting anything American these days. But that doesn’t mean she can’t still get her DVF fix – Kate proudly showed off the brand’s Kelly green Maja dress to touch down in LA and did a repeat for Zara Philips pre-nuptials bash.
Next label to look out for: Roksanda Illincic
One of England’s hottest rising fashion stars, Ilincic was catapulted to superstar status when Kate landed in LA last summer wearing her lavender crepe dress. We don’t doubt her fall fashion wardrobe will have many new pieces added to it.
Find out how Kate stays grounded with High Street fashion on the next page…
5. The high street chains
Sending out a "Make-do and Mend" message meant for Britain’s age of austerity, Kate aggressively shops her closet and proudly wears accessibly priced pieces from mega retailers. Topshop: The British fashion brand has been beloved by the Duchess for quite some time and she’s been known to do a spot of shopping at the branch near her new London home at Kensington Palace.
Zara: Forgoing couture confections or pricey designer duds, Kate’s first post-wedding outing as a princess had her in a cheap and cheerful cornflower frock. More recently, she stepped out in a cream dress with black lace overlay.
Reiss: A now royal favourite, Kate chose an understated silk dress from the high street brand for her official engagement photos by Mario Testino. The $255 white ruffled "Nanette" dress sold out before the pictures were even released but, in a savvy business move, Reiss reissued the style and it’s been selling like hot cakes ever since. Good thing too since Kate donned the dress again while in Ottawa last summer on Canada Day, and wore a beige bandage shift from the label to meet President Obama.
Next label to look out for: Whistles
The Duchess famously wore a cream blouse by the brand for her official engagement photos last year. Expect to see more of the high-low mix in her fall fashion wardrobe.