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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Kate Middleton is a duchess, not a New York fashionista

A friend who’s a royalist, a follower of fashion – in her own inimitable way – and a bit of a live-wire, gave her verdict on Kate Middleton at an early stage in the now rapidly heating style saga.

“I think the royals did very well to marry into the Middleton family,” she said, with not a hint of humour in her tone. “She dresses well, don’t you think?”

There’s simply no answer to that – certainly not from a woman still washing and wearing last year’s M&S jumpers.

Kate? Dress well? A young, stunningly attractive woman with the figure of a bean pole, Sindy doll hair and a smile as wide as the Solway Firth – why wouldn’t she dress well? She’s a natural-born clothes horse.

If she hadn’t been snapped up as a sensationally striking bride for her prince, she’d have been snapped up as a sensationally striking bride for another prince. It was written in her star chart. Future queen – terrific frocks.

But now, after the wedding that made the whole world cry; following cooing and curtseying on both sides of the Atlantic; in the aftermath of breathtaking wardrobe triumphs, claws are out for Kate. Fashionistas are sharpening their talons.

That didn’t take long did it?

During New York Fashion Week, last week, an American style commentator triggered the turning tide for our new princess.

“If you take Kate out of the royal family and put her on a street in New York, you wouldn’t look at her twice,” said Gregg Andrews, a vocal style-shaper and fashion director at leading U.S. department store chain Nordstrom.

“She is stylish but she’s not setting trends, she’s following trends. She’s a beautiful woman but she blends into a crowd.”

That was the start of it. There has been a lot more since. And unfortunately where America leads we do tend to follow – into war, into obesity, into trash TV and into pulling down those we have built up as favourites. They point, we go.

So disappointing. Such an unattractive trait of twisted human nature to want to idolise someone one minute, raise them onto a pedestal, then target them for hurtful demolition by hurled insults the next.

It has started all too early for the Duchess of Cambridge. Her honeymoon period in the glow of universal adoration has been fleeting indeed.

Her late, lamented mother-in-law knew the problems of icon bashing. She paid the ultimate price for them. But in Diana’s glaringly lit lifetime, there was a goading from both sides. The princess played the media. And the media responded viciously.

Not so in Kate’s, as yet, short time as a trendsetting, style-shaping, fashion-leading member of the royal family. She has played no one, goaded not a sausage.

Through no fault of her own, she has nevertheless drawn the short straw of what has become known in the air-kissing celebrity and designer promotion business as the fash-pack. It has turned on her and it’s nasty.

It has turned on her for what reason? Perhaps because she doesn’t do the Sarah Jessica Parker look. Perhaps because she mixes high street with design house to make her style accessible, to keep her image human. Perhaps because she made Nicole Kidman look fat.

But let’s get real. Would a duchess dream of stepping out onto any street – in New York or old York – wearing a tu-tu of layered netting, a pair of sheepskin boots and multicoloured flashes in her spiked hair?

I think not. Not one of our duchesses anyway. Except Duchess Fergie, maybe. But she’s virtually American now. She crossed to the dark side when she chummed up with Oprah on her sofa.

We do have standards for our royals. And our standards will not be taking a hit from brash New Yorkers anytime soon. Not if our new royal Middletons have anything to do with it.

Funny old business fashion-following. It takes the most bizarre and frankly ugly creation, parades it to a world audience for faked gasps of adoring admiration – then the high street adapts it for wearability. The high street does the proper job and gets little of the credit.

But a public wearing of the wearable appears to be a crime – so far as the fash-pack is concerned.

Should a beautiful, high profile woman turn out in clothes that suit her, she’s not trying hard enough. She’s blending into the crowd. She’s following trends when she ought to be setting them.

She’s going unnoticed on the streets of New York. That’s unforgivable.

You have to wonder when it became compulsory for royals to set style and fashion trends. It’s actually a totally laughable notion, if you think about it.

The Queen in a Viv Westwood, off the shoulder, tartan taffeta ballgown? Princess Anne in an Alexander McQueen boob tube? Princess Bea in a pretzel hat? Ah... sorry.

There’s good cause for the Duchess of Cambridge to make and keep her own style. It’s hers. She’s comfortable and confident with it and – as a matter of very happy by the way – she looks utterly fabulous.

If US stylists and bitching fashion insiders don’t care for it, well so much the better. At least she’ll know she got something right. It’s about time genuinely British style led the world again.

Fash-pack critics? They’re still failing to notice their gaudy American empresses have no clothes.

We don’t need to follow them. Best that we don’t. On this one occasion, we should be determinedly true to instincts by celebrating the dignity of an understated English style this fledgling royal has made her own. It’s a style which has nothing to do with streetwalkers in New York.

Not a bad plan, eh? Refuse to follow America. Now, why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?

Have your say

Yadda-yadda, Mr Nordstrom fashion director. Stop b!tchin' & stock-up on those Reisses & Issas. Your job is to make the sale. As it is, KATE SELLS - The Duchess rulez. Make Nordstrom stockholders happy and get with it - ride the Duchess tide!

Posted by Dan on 21 September 2011 at 16:43

I am refusing to shop at Nordstrom until the ridiculous Nordstrom exec who initiated the nasty comments about Kate Middleton apologizes. Nordstorm stores carry the Alexander McQueen line.....so it is extremely odd that Nordstrom would trash the way Kate dresses.

Posted by Nordy toady boycott on 20 September 2011 at 21:29

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