Saturday 17 August 2019

All of your favourite style icons are copying Denmark's Princess Mary

Denmark's Princess Mary in 2006, left, and Britain's Duchess of Cambridge in 2018, right
Denmark's Princess Mary in 2006, left, and Britain's Duchess of Cambridge in 2018, right
Crown Princess Mary poses with French President Emmanuel Macron's wife Brigitte Macron upon arrival at the Amalienborg Castle in central Copenhagen on August 28, 2018. (Photo by Jacques Witt / various sources / AFP)
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark attend day 2 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 15, 2016 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Charlie Gowans-Eglinton

Royals have always had the ability to inspire fashion trends, but it’s only in recent years that their wardrobes - made shoppable by quick-off-the-mark style bloggers identifying labels as they’re worn, and thanks to a new high-low approach that sees Princesses wearing Zara and Marks & Spencer alongside custom made designer pieces - that royal style has become widely and exactingly aped.

But while Repli-Kates and Meghans style themselves on our stylish British Duchesses, it seems that our royals are doing a little replicating of their own. The woman offering inspiration for our own style muses- and many more? Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark and Countess of Monpezat.

The wife of Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, heir apparent to the throne - currently held by his mother, Queen Margrethe II -  will someday be Queen. And since her marriage into the Danish royal family in 2004, 46-year-old Mary has honed a personal aesthetic so elegant and appropriate that it’s copied the world over.

Mary’s influence became further apparent on Tuesday, when she and her husband hosted the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and his wife Brigitte, in Copenhagen. Macron’s own style has often made headlines, as her love of Louis Vuitton mini-skirt suits and shoulder-padded power blazers offers a very different take on French style to that effortless narrative that we’re so familiar with.

Crown Princess Mary poses with French President Emmanuel Macron's wife Brigitte Macron upon arrival at the Amalienborg Castle in central Copenhagen on August 28, 2018. (Photo by Jacques Witt / various sources / AFP)
Crown Princess Mary poses with French President Emmanuel Macron's wife Brigitte Macron upon arrival at the Amalienborg Castle in central Copenhagen on August 28, 2018. (Photo by Jacques Witt / various sources / AFP)

But it seemed that the French first lady was taking style cues from her Danish host. First, she appeared in a coat and dress (Vuitton again, natch) in the same bright red shade as the Princess’s Raquel Diniz dress- standing together, they were a matching pair. The colour certainly showed diplomacy from Macron, as it referenced the Danish flag.  Her signature bouffant blow-dry was at odds with the Princess’s own loose, low bun - but by Wednesday, when the pair visited a school in Copenhagen, Macron’s blonde hair was styled instead in - what else? - a loose, low bun.

That elegant low bun (which, maybe-not-so-coincidentally, has become a go-to for Meghan ever since her engagement to Prince Harry) - has long been a favourite of Princess Mary’s, one she alternates with the bouncy blow dries the double of the Duchess of Cambridge’s own. In fact, the natural resemblance between Mary and Kate, heightened by their similar wardrobes, is so striking that fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld once dubbed the pair “royal sisters”. With just ten years between them, it’s easy to imagine that Kate looks to Mary for a steer on fashion appropriate for a future Queen.

Many of Kate’s style signatures - like wearing shades of bright blue or red for evening events and smart, pastel dress coats for day, a love of lace and classic nude court shoes - were first signatures of Mary’s. Some of the similarities are particularly striking, like the pale silver beaded evening gowns the pair wore in January (Mary) and May (Kate) 2017.

On the occasion of Prince Louis’ Christening in July, the Duchess of Cambridge’s unusual cream floral headband seemed a style departure, as Kate usually prefers hats or fascinators - but viewed side by side with the cream floral headband that Mary wore to christen her eldest son in 2006, and again to christen her twin son and daughter in 2011, we can see Mary’s influence clearly.

Like our own Duchess of Cambridge, Crown Princess Mary’s story is something of a fairytale. Born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson to Scottish parents in Hobart, the capital of the Australian state of Tasmania in 1972, she graduated from the University of Tasmania with a degree in Commerce and Law before going on to work in advertising in Melbourne and Sydney.

It was in the latter, at a pub called the Slip Inn, that she first met Prince Frederik. He was in Sydney for the 2000 Summer Olympics, and introduced himself as Fred - it wasn’t until later in the evening that a friend revealed his identity to her. A long distance courtship and discreet visits followed, and in December 2001 Mary moved to Copenhagen. The pair were engaged in 2003 and married in May 2004.

When it comes to fashion, Mary has credibility in spades - amongst humanitarian causes, Mary is a patron of the Danish fashion industry and Copenhagen fashion summit. The Princess has twice been photographed for the cover of Vogue in her native Australia, and once for Vogue Germany. In 2010, she was named on Vanity Fair’s International best dressed list. She’s also the subject of numerous style blogs and Instagram fan accounts, just as our British Duchesses are.

“People do buy what she wears,” says Henriette Schmidt, who has been blogging about royal style for eight years on Regularly appearing in Danish magazines and papers in the course of royal duties, “we rarely see her mentioned without a comment about what she wore, which designer created her dress or who made her shoes. She’s master of reusing old pieces over and over again, and she does have a signature style: a pair of pointed pumps, mid-length skirts and coats, classy white pearl earrings, a simple blowout as hairstyle and natural makeup. Something most of us can copy.”

Mary is careful to support local Danish labels and those from her native Australia, and mix accessible pieces into her wardrobe, wearing Scandinavian high street brands like Ganni and H&M as our own Duchesses don M&S and LK Bennett. But Mary also has a love for high fashion that’s shared by the Duchess of Sussex.

The Crown Princess has worn Brit Stella McCartney, French Louis Vuitton and Chanel, and Italians Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, which has also been worn by Meghan. Sister-in-law Kate tends to stick to home-grown brands, so Meghan’s choice to wear French and Italian fashion houses didn’t come from her guide to British Duchess style, or her unofficial style advisor, husband Prince Harry.

Instead, it’s likely that while planning her Duchess-appropriate wardrobe, Meghan looked to this Scandinavian style muse. The abstract colour-block pleated Club Monaco dress worn by Meghan to a wedding in August is almost an exact match for the Designers Remix version seen on Mary in May. And while it’s rare for a female British royal to wear trousers - Kate occasionally seen in jeans, but otherwise sticks to dresses and skirts - Meghan has broken with convention twice this year, opting for tailored black trouser suits paired with black pointed toe stilettos. It’s an unusual outfit for a female royal - but one that Mary has also stepped out in, back in March 2017.

And it seems the Crown Princess’s reach really is global. Melania Trump’s futuristic pastel blue Ralph Lauren dress and jacket worn for the inauguration - arguably the most important outfit and well-recorded outfit for a FLOTUS - seems to have referenced a lilac skirt and jacket worn by Mary some years ago.

So, while Jackie Onassis Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and Princess Diana are often said to be the style inspiration behind the wardrobes of Duchesses and First Ladies around the world, it seems they have a modern counterpart setting the style agenda now.

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