The Royal Wedding: The ‘Kate Effect’ on Fashion

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The new Duchess of Cambridge

London—The newly betrothed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had barely motored away from Buckingham Palace earlier today when fashion prognosticators were already speculating about the “Kate effect” in fashion.

Without a doubt, the former Catherine Middleton will have same effect on bridal fashions that Princess Diana had in 1981. Designer Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, long the rumored front runner for the dress, purportedly collaborated with the Duchess on the ivory dress which included handmade lace appliqué on the bodice and skirt, ivory tulle veil and a more than 8-foot long train. Her shoes, also made by Alexander McQueen studio, were ivory duchess satin with lace.

The Duchess’ jewelry received a lot of attention too. Her “halo” tiara, made by Cartier in 1936 and originally purchased by Queen Elizabeth’s father for Elizabeth the Queen mother, was her “something borrowed.”

A Style Marriage of Tradition and Modernity

Her parents gave her the platinum and diamond drop earrings by Robinson Pelham. Their design was based upon a “stylized oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond set drop and a pavé set diamond acorn suspended in the center.” (The acorn derived from the design of the Middle’s recently created coat of arms.)

“The blend of modern, vintage and heirloom pieces of platinum jewelry from both her family and from William’s family chosen by Kate illustrate the couple’s desire to marry today’s elements with the durability and traditions of yesterday,” says Michael O’Connor a style commentator for the Platinum Guild International. “The choice of the platinum and diamond Halo tiara and the iconic sapphire and diamond engagement ring, once owned by Princess Diana, illustrate the bond of family and the lifetime legacy that quality platinum jewelry provides. Kate’s jewelry style truly exemplifies that of a modern yet sophisticated royal bride.”

Even leading up to the wedding, there were many examples of the “Kate effect” in fashion. After she appeared in a white Reiss dress in her engagement photo, the brand had to reissued the style which continues to sell out. Links of London has a waiting list on its Topaz Hope egg earrings, which cost under $500, after Kate was photographed wearing them.

Not to mention, the QVC sold more than 53,000 units—and counting—of Kenneth Jay Lane’s Princess Ring, modeled after the engagement ring that once belonged to Princess Diana.

But will the “Kate effect” continue in fashion? Well given her popularity now and her visibility, it’s likely she’ll be a fashion influencer.

Others say, however, that the effect might be brief. “This obsession with Kate Middleton’s wardrobe will be episodic,” says David Yermack, professor at New York University’s Stern School, who has studied the impact of Michelle Obama’s fashion choices on the retail market.

Yermack says that since Kate Middleton has been in the public’s eye since she and Prince William began dating in 2003, her fashion influence has only been around since last fall. “I don’t think she can morph into a fashion icon when everyone knows her so well.”