From frumpy student fashion to glossy and royal fiancee
Published 17/11/2010 | 05:00
Queen-to-be, Kate Middleton's fashion style has been transformed from frumpy student to glossy, royal fiancee with the help of Irish image consultant Leesa Whisker.
And with a budding sense of style, Ms Middleton turned to Irish milliner Philip Treacy, from Ahrascragh, Co Galway, to design exotic headpieces, like he did for Camilla for her wedding to Charles.
However, with a royal wedding slated for spring- summer 2011, no chances will be taken and Ms Middleton's wardrobe will be taken in hand, just as the 'Vogue' magazine advisers did with the 19-year-old Diana 30 years ago.
Once ridiculed for her 'middle-class' fondness for Ugg boots and a Berkshire uniform of cowboy boots and bootleg jeans, Ms Middleton didn't escape criticism from the palace set and she was slagged off as a 'Sloany Pony' and a fondness for wearing baby blue cashmere jumpers with men's shirts and jeans.
Although Ms Middleton has a fondness for fashion -- she once worked as an accessories buyer for Jigsaw and was offered a job in PR with Tom Ford -- the fashion police has accused her of 'playing safe' with boring short jackets over dresses, always accessorised with pearl earrings.
The contrast with the carefree dressing style of Prince Harry's blonde South African girlfriend Chelsy Davy couldn't have been more marked and the hostile sections of the media ate it up when Carol Middleton, Ms Middleton's former air-hostess mother, rang up shops and berated them for discussing what her daughter bought.
Ms Middleton was roundly criticised for wearing a red cashmere coat at Prince William's passing out ceremony at Sandhurst -- or was that really criticism being levelled at a 'commoner' for daring to date the heir to the throne?
Upwardly mobile Ms Middleton and her sister Pippa have been likened to the Bouvier sisters in America, one of whom married JFK, but whatever about royalist snobbery over her family roots, the ordinary British girl on the street clearly admires Ms Middleton's fashion chutzpah and has raced to emulate it. The £40 (€47) Topshop dress Ms Middleton wore to her 25th birthday sold out in 24 hours.
After a short break from the prince in 2007, there were clues to Ms Middleton's growing self-confidence, especially when she turned up in September 2008 wearing sequined hotpants and a cutaway top.
This was the history of art student who did a student fashion show in St Andrews in April 2002 wearing only a see-through, diaphanous dress, her sexy black underwear showing through.
Eight and a half years later the prince asked Ms Middleton to be his queen while on holidays in Kenya.
There was a poignant sense of deju vu at yesterday's engagement photocall. The ring was the same, a Garrard, oval sapphire which the prince's father Charles had paid £38,000 (€44,790) for three decades earlier.
Both women dressed in blue for their day in front of the world's media but, unlike teenage Diana, trussed up like a woman 10 years older in a fussy bow blouse, Ms Middleton was her own woman, dressed in an electric blue, body skimming Issa dress which showed off her enviable figure and leggy physique. The choice also spoke volumes about her confidence.
Ms Middleton's loyality to high street brands like J Crew (also a favourite with Michelle Obama) and LK Bennett has shifted dramatically -- like her status in life -- from 'commoner' to the top of the royal pyramid.
Instead of shopping trips down King's Road, she now buys one-off, couture dresses and her current favourite is Brazilian designer Daniella Issa Helayel. Ms Middleton's style is all about clean, simple lines.
Speculation is rife that Ms Middleton will look to Bruce Oldfield for a dress to walk down the aisle or to Brit favourite Christopher Bailey at Burberry.
But in keeping with her fairytale romance, Ms Middleton should look to young designer Alice Temperly who has a formidable reputation for making brides look beautiful and whose gowns are sold in Dublin at Costume in Castle Market.