Royal wedding

Maud Lescroart, the CMO of Sophie Hallett, the family-run French lace maker that seems to supply – well, pretty much everyone in fashion – is in New York this week for Wedding Week, and stopped by the office the other day to discuss her company’s life since the royal wedding (Hallett supplied the lace that covered the bodice of Kate Middleton’s Sarah Burton Alexander McQueen gown). Between four key factors: 1) the spotlight cast by the palace fairy tale; 2) the focus on the hand-made and heritage as key to luxury’s appeal; 3) the growing attention to CSR and the desire to control all parts of the supply chain; and 4) and the imperative in the luxury industry to ensure a reliable source of key materials, which has seen big groups buying up skins houses (LVMH and Heng Long; Hermes and Tanneries d’Annonay) and cashmere specialists (LVMH’s purchase of Loro Piana in 2013; Chanel’s purchase of Barrie knitwear in 2012), they have gone from behind-the-scenes player to suddenly very hot property. Read more

The news that Silvio Berlusconi, once-and-possible-future-Italian-PM-candidate and always colourful character, is engaged to be married to his 27-year-old girlfriend begs the usual question: not “Wait, isn’t he still married to his second wife?” (yes, they are in the midst of their divorce), but rather, “what will she wear?” Presumably, it would be useful for a woman marrying a political player to dress with patriotism in mind – sic Kate Middleton — but this presents an interesting conundrum, because of all the big four fashion capitals, Italy has been the slowest to embrace that emerging and potentially very lucrative market known as wedding dresses. Read more

Recently, a woman in the midst of a career change came to see me. This former banker, who took time off to get married and have children, was on the verge of beginning a new life in the high-end fragrance business. Her launch product is a limited edition perfume called “Tiara” that will sell for $1,200 and features particularly glitzy packaging: nestling inside a white resin box is a glass vial shaped like a cupcake, “crowned” by a special silvery top studded with sapphire blue Swarovski ovals. The look was, she said, inspired by the late Princess Diana’s engagement ring, as now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.

This morning, looking at pictures of Kate Middleton in the black and white lace Alice Temperley gown she wore for her first royal film premier yesterday (Steven Speilberg’s “War Horse”), I was struck by the fact that it seems the Duchess of Cambridge only wears British designers for dress-up. There’s an interesting choice here.  Read more

British Fashion Awards 2011 - London. Sarah Burton with the Designer of the Year award. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

Sarah Burton, Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards 2011. Ian West/PA Wire

Take a wild guess who won the designer of the year award at the British Fashion Awards last night. Yup, it was Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. A well deserved win, given her acclaimed royal wedding dress and the sensitive way in which she has interpreted Alexander McQueen’s legacy, but not really a surprise. It was the first of many not-really-a-surprises at the awards, held in London’s Savoy hotel, which is probably a good thing, indicating that there is a consensus behind which British names are ones to be confident about.

Mary Katrantzou, who won the Emerging Talent – Womenswear award, is fast becoming a highlight – if not the highlight – of London Fashion Week. Not only are her bold and unusual prints arresting, they are also tailored to be highly wearable and fairly commercial. The question of when a designer is no longer deemed to be emerging can be a problematic one though; there’s often no clear moment when they become – like a butterfly from a chrysalis – fully formed. Read more

It’s November — which in magazine-calendar-speak means December issues, which in turn means Best-Dressed Lists. Yahoo! First out of the blocks is Harper’s Bazaar UK, and guess who tops the list? Yes, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is perhaps the most unsurprising choice ever. Because really, let’s be honest: best-dressed lists are not just about being best-dressed, and the Duchess isn’t the best dressed woman in the country.

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August in the UK is the silly season (well, not so much this year – this year, things are looking rather serious – but traditionally). It’s when everyone goes on holiday and the definition of “news” gets stretched but, even by those standards, among the silliest, as well as the strangest, events of this summer is the elevation of Pippa Middleton to style icon status. Every month I think it will go away – and every month I discover I am wrong.

I have weddings on the brain this week. Not just because my parents have been married 50 years today – mazel tov – but because we are approaching the second big wedding event of the summer: the nuptials of the other Kate the Great, and all the designer-related opportunities therein. Whether Kate Moss marries her fiancé, Kills guitarist Jamie Hince, next Saturday as announced or this coming Friday as rumoured (to throw off all those photographers, who aren’t Mario Testino, hiding in the bushes), or some other time entirely (always possible), you can be sure of one thing: whatever she wears will set wedding dress trends for the foreseeable future.

The news that the strange and controversial Philip Treacy creation sported by Princess Beatrice at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton has been sold on eBay for almost gbp 80,000 is both generally shocking (although very nice for UNICEF, who gets the money) and also shockingly educational.

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And so the Queen has come to Ireland for the first time in almost 60 years — and she has done so in her usual, thought-through finery.

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And so we have ourselves a new style icon. On Friday Catherine Middleton became a princess, walking through the doors of Westminister Abbey not just into royal history, but sartorial history too – whether she likes it or not, and whether the international fashion police like what she wore or not. Not that she has much choice in the matter. When you are a public figure, especially a female public figure, you are judged on what you wear.

We all know now that Alexander McQueen’s fortune has been made thanks to the fact their designer, Sarah Burton, was chosen to create the royal wedding dress, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Indeed, there are a number of other brands and sectors that will benefit from having a product in the royal wedding. Starting with:

1. Cartier: the French brand made the tiara that was the subject of much will-she-or-won’t-she speculation pre-wedding, conventional wisdom dictating that a jewelled headpiece would be too old-fashioned an option for the new-fangled bride. Well, lo! She went with tradition, borrowing the “halo” tiara made in 1936 and bought by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his wife (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother), who then gave it to The Queen for her 18th birthday. Expect a tiara resurgence, and a Cartier spotlight. Read more

Since this is a royal wedding, every little bit of the royal wedding dress actually has symbolic meaning, and roots in different parts of British industry.  Read more

So the answer is in: Sarah Burton did indeed make Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. A major British brand for a new British royal.

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Well, Prince William fooled us all. For weeks, while speculation has roared around his bride, everyone said with great certainty he would wear a RAF uniform by Gieves & Hawkes. But he just appeared in…the red uniform of a Colonel in the Irish Guards.  Read more

Royal Wedding Day minus 1 and slowly the sartorial chips are falling into place. Read more

Lately I can’t seem to escape stories in which various clothing manufacturers brag – publicly, with names – about how fast they are going to rip off the royal wedding dress as soon as Kate Middelton takes her first steps down the aisle at Westminister Abbery, and they can actually tell what she is wearing. But why is this so celebrated/accepted?

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I had an interesting lunch the other day with Jason Wu, a young Taiwanese-American designer in the uptown mode who shot to fame in 2009 when he designed the one-shouldered white gown Michelle Obama wore to the Presidential inaugural balls. Anyway, Mr Wu had some interesting observations about the experience, and advice for whomever ends up designing Catherine Middleton’s dress.
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Today may be Easter Monday, but it is also – zing! – RWD minus four (aka Royal Wedding Day, for those who aren’t up on their acronyms), so we will finally wade into the royal wedding dress fray, and take a moment to wash the Augean stables of gossip clean – or at least cast a calm look at the odds of the various designer names floating about.  Read more