The Order of the Garter ceremony at Windsor Castle on Monday saw King Felipe VI of Spain and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands formally invested as Knights of the Garter by the Queen. And while all three looked impeccable in their formal velvet robes, it was their wives, along with the Duchess of Cambridge, who garnered most of the attention.
In a rare gathering of three of the world’s most stylish royals, Kate, Queen Letizia and Queen Maxima showed that their fashion choices could speak volumes about how they hope to be perceived by the world.
From Queen Maxima’s cape dress to Queen Letizia in print, we decode the meaning in trio’s very different outfits for the Order of the Garter ceremony.
The Duchess of Cambridge
Kate wore a white Catherine Walker coat-dress with a Peter Pan collar and black piping. She teamed it with a hat by James Lock & Co, Britain’s oldest millinery, dating back to 1765. It’s a distinctive look, but not showy, indicating that propriety, rather than fashion, is her priority.
The look also demonstrates how Kate is keen to use high-profile events such as this to support independent British brands. While the exact items may not be available for others to buy, Kate is known to boost interest in the labels she wears. New research from fashion search platform Lyst has revealed that there is a 119 percent increase in online demand for the brands seen on Kate in the week following a public appearance.
Kate has worn Catherine Walker many times before, particularly for more formal occasions. Founded in 1977, the brand’s coat-dress is a signature, at once elegant and modest, with hemlines falling on or below the knee. And apparently we love to see Kate wear them: when she wore a red Catherine Walker coat-dress in March for the Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey, online searches for similar designs increased by 225 percent, according to Lyst.
Like Kate, she’s supporting her country’s fashion talent, but by picking a relatively accessible piece, she’s also telling us that she’s a woman of the people. Letizia also wears a lot of Zara, Mango and Massimo Dutti, as well as jewellery by Madrid-based Karen Hallam. She’s not obsessive about this though: Hugo Boss has long been a go-to for tailored separates, and she’s regularly seen wearing Carolina Herrera too.
Here, she’s wearing a dress, but her looks at other events indicate that Letizia wants us to know she can navigate her way around fashion enough to mix separates from different brands, rather than wearing a single designer’s prescribed outfit head-to-toe. With its vintage silhouette and pretty print, Letizia's dress is still the most experimental of the trio.
There’s no doubt that Queen Maxima loves high fashion - we’ve seen her wear Stella McCartney and Mary Katrantzou in the past - and Monday’s cape dress, a major trend this summer, shows us she can hold her own in the style stakes alongside the Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Letizia.
Though it was a fashion-forward piece, the tuxedo-style collar, structured shoulders and wide belt of the pale pink dress looked sleek and polished. Coordinating suede shoes and a wide-brimmed headpiece set at an almost vertical angle completed the look.
With this outfit choice, Maxima is telling us that there’s no need to be boring, even at the most formal of occasions.
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