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May 28, 2018 | by  | in News Opinion | [ssba]

Suiting Up for the New Aristocracy

The last time there was a royal wedding I could not have cared less. You knew the gown was going to be lacy and conservative; you knew the church was going to be Westminster Abbey; you knew the ceremony was going to be riddled with polite nods to archaic traditions. However, when I found out that my third favourite Suits character was getting married (if your number one isn’t Donna or Jessica you’re wrong) to the “party boy prince” — as Women’s Day would have him known — you best believe I was gonna be tuning in.

As a designer, people have often made the well-intended mistake of thinking I give a shit about royal fashions. But if I’m being real with you, I find the never-ending parade of full-sleeve knee-length dresses just about as boring and irrelevant as the monarchy itself. I get that you can’t have a royal “lady” (just saying the word made me vom a little) prancing around in a Balmain mini-skirt, but give me something at least a little contemporary.

And that they did — my fashion prayers were answered in the form of one Ms Meghan Markle. With a penchant for sleek tailoring and well accessorised styling, Meghan’s outfits actually look like they belong in this century.

Now I promise I won’t spend this whole piece acting like I’m on E’s Fashion Police. Truly, my emotional investment in this event was as political as it was sartorial. It felt like I was sitting down to watch one giant metaphor for the Boston Tea Party — just with less boats, and way more celebrities. The collision of cultures was jarring and brilliant: you had English noble-born seated near American pop-culture icons, and just when you weren’t sure who was going to win this cultural attack on the Brits — the French arrived.

In this case, the French infantry came in the form of one beautifully designed Givenchy wedding gown. Now to be fair, it was the creation of Clare Waight Keller, who is a UK designer. A UK designer who has made a name for herself heading two French fashion houses, that is.

My eager anticipation to know “who” Meghan had chosen to wear on her big day had me refreshing my browser constantly like I was waiting for Kendrick Lamar tickets to drop. Her choice was completely unconventional as a royal-to-be, but a little familiar as a pop icon. An American A-lister, getting married at an internationally anticipated wedding, in a Givenchy gown, in front of dramatic white rose floral installations and a crowd of stars? The tabloids may be churning out side-by-side comparison pieces between Meghan and Kate, but her nuptials had me thinking of a “royal” family of the American variety. Kim Kardashian’s Givenchy wedding gown may have been designed back when Riccardo Tisci was running the show — but Kim and Meghan’s shared affiliations with the brand, and overlapping guest lists, are not to be ignored.

We live in an era where Beyoncé is good friends with former President Barack Obama; the current President of the United States owes his prominence to a reality TV show; the Queen of England just endorsed the marriage of her grandson to a television starlet. The line between politics and entertainment has never been finer — if it still exists at all.

Once upon a time British royalty married other nations’ royalty to maintain and bolster power — but this is a new age of aristocracy. Marrying a prince is a fairytale from another era, and capitalism and the American Dream would have us mere mortals think that we all have a shot at fame and fortune. I’m happy Meghan has helped welcome the Windsors to the 21st-century — beyond her taste for contemporary clothing, the ceremony was full of total mic-drop moments, and it was lit seeing black culture represented so prominently. But it doesn’t matter how you dress it — royalty or celebrity — if you think we’re through with class systems, well you’re just not looking close enough.


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