At the rate she’s going you could put a sack on her slim frame and it would be snapped up by followers of her fashion. Fortunately the woman set to marry the future king of Britain is more sophisticated than that and women are forking out big bucks to get her look.
Two fans even came to blows over the last pair of earrings identical to those Kate Middleton wore in her engagement pictures – all because of what retailers call the Kate Effect.
Prince William’s fiancée is becoming Britain’s biggest style icon – much like Princess Dianaonce was. Women used to slavishly copy his mother and are now feverishly emulating his wife-to-be.
“Kate is a great ambassador for fashion,” says Harold Tillman, chairman of the British Fashion Council.
Her influence on fashion is being compared to that of America’s first lady, Michelle Obama, who made affordable, retail-store clothes popular when she chose them over big-name designers after her husband had been sworn into office.
“Kate is expected to do for many British high-street names what Michelle Obama did for [retailer] J Crew in the US,” says Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at banking group Barclays Corporate. “Shoppers really are inspired by these big, glossy images of her in styles that are very accessible.”
Retailers are acutely aware of the Kate Effect – and they’ve been warned not to abuse the future queen’s name.
“It’s unlikely we’d have any objection if a company wanted to call a dress the Kate dress – Kate isn’t specific to Catherine Middleton,” a royal aide says. “It may be a different scenario if it were called the Catherine/Kate Middleton dress.”
All designers can do is hope Kate will choose their clothes – Victoria Beckham is delighted she’s among the first few who have been asked to send outfits for Kate to choose from.
See how much of an impact the Kate Effect had on outfits in YOU, 7 April 2011.