I have to confess something that may get me into some hot water with my fashion peers: I don’t think Kate Middleton is a fashion icon. I don’t eagerly await images from her tours, excitedly shop her look, or painstakingly hunt down pieces she wears to try and emulate her style in my personal life. Her wardrobe choices don’t EXCITE me, inspire me, educate me. When I see images of her either going about her personal business or attending to state matters, I nod appreciatively, but don’t feel that twinge that makes me wish I had her stylist on speed dial.
Ever since it became clear that Prince William would (finally!) make her his wife, the media has breathlessly anointed her ‘the Next Diana’ and declared her to be a fashion icon in the making. Her every sartorial choice is dutifully reported, dissected, and analyzed. And these choices, while lovely, aren’t all that exciting. They’re safe and timeless. Her sensibility and tastefulness is a breath of fresh of air at times, but the term ‘icon’ gives me pause.
Don’t misunderstand me- I think she’s very elegant and refined. I think her personal style is appropriate for her position and that she has a well curated and thoughtfully planned wardrobe. She is always well-dressed and occasionally, I love a look I see her in. She dresses as I feel MOST women in ‘real life’ dress. She re-wears her favorite pieces, matches her hat to her heels, and choose sensible heel heights. She’s lovely. But a fashion icon she is not.
What ultimately determines a ‘fashion icon’? What IS a ‘fashion icon’? Fashion icons are risk takers and boundary pushers. They experiment with trends and make them their own. They sometimes make risky gambles that don’t necessarily pan out. I think a true fashion icon inevitably makes some fashion missteps. These are the people that change fashion and shape the trends of the future. They CREATE fashion moments and truly have a voice in the fashion dialogue. Ultimately, an icon will shape a trend and write the pages of fashion history.
The media and world at large loved Princess Diana. Her untimely passing all those years ago left a void I think that we all wanted to see filled. (And I don’t just mean in the fashion world.) When the fashion industry saw a chance to latch on to a NEW princess, all of the expectations and ramifications for what that would entail were pushed on to her. I wonder sometimes if it’s a case of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. (The Duchess’ New Clothes?) We all want so badly for Kate Middleton to be fashion’s next icon, that the media just spins the tale over and over and the public and fashion industry buy it.
Styles she wears (and re-wears) sell out immediately. The blue Issa dress she wore in her engagement photos sold out in 24 hours. Stuart Weitzman recently reissued the blue espadrille wedges she has been constantly photographed in the past few years after demand for them rose to an all-time high. Her nude LK Bennett pumps are always in high demand. This is all well and good, but at the end of the day, these moments aren’t defining ones in fashion.
Ultimately, I admire the Duchess. I think she’s very pretty and put-together and when I hear the media rave about her wardrobe choices, I am curious to see, wondering if this will be the time she finally takes a fashion risk. I am just very careful with labeling someone a fashion icon. What do you think? Would you call Kate Middleton a fashion icon?
While I loved this dress the Duchess wore recently, she’s paired it with dowdy pumps.
The Duchesses’ Stuart Weitzman wedges… reissued this year after much demand.
This Issa dress was sold out in 24 hours. Pretty, but is it really pretty enough to cause a buying frenzy?