Thursday 18 January 2018

Kate Middleton as fashion icon? Mary Portas thinks not

The Duchess of Cambridge
The Duchess of Cambridge
Retail guru Mary Portas said she could not bear to look at the women in the British Cabinet. Photo: Getty Images

Anita Singh

Her latest show is called Mary, Queen of Frocks, so perhaps Mary Portas feels well placed to critique a Duchess's dress sense.

The retail guru has dismissed the idea that the Duchess of Cambridge is a fashion icon, claiming not to understand the praise heaped on the young royal's sense of style.

"Is that fashion? No," Portas said of the Duchess's outfits. "I think she's done an incredible job globally, but I do not know how you can say she is a fashion icon. I just don't get that."

Asked what made a fashion icon, she replied: "A unique sense of style. End of."

Kate Middleton style gallery

Portas is a rare voice of dissent when it comes to the outfits worn by the Duchess, 28, who favours High Street buys from Reiss and Whistles.

Fans of the Duchess's style include Julien Macdonald, the designer, who praised her "chic and sophisticated" look when he was interviewed recently at London Fashion Week.

Her choice of bridal gown won universal praise, with Karl Lagerfeld hailing it as the epitome of elegance.

Such is the Duchess's fashion clout that anything she wears becomes an instant sell-out in what retailers have dubbed 'the Kate Middleton effect'. The £159 white Reiss dress she wore in her official engagement photographs was reissued after shoppers clamoured to get their hands on it, and the £385 Issa dress she wore for her engagement announcement sold out within 24 hours.

Portas, though, is known for not mincing her words. She discussed the Duchess in an interview with Heat magazine, and also turned her fire on the Coalition cabinet.

Told that a 'Mary Portas for Prime Minister' Facebook group was gathering members, she was asked what her first task would be if she got the job.

"I know what I'd do - I'd bloody restyle all those women. I mean, the female cabinet - what an ugly bunch," said Portas, who was brought in by David Cameron to solve the problem of Britain's dying High Streets.

"Do you know, I couldn't look at them. I go in for meetings now and they do dress up for my meetings, but I just want to go, 'Please. No. Not that necklace. Not that skirt.'

"You look at French women and they're like, wow, aren't they? What do we have? I'd say let's just put a bit of sex and glamour in there."

While she did not name names, the cabinet includes Theresa May, the Home Secretary; Baroness Warsi, the party chairman; Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary; and Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh Secretary.

Portas was full of praise for Christina Hendricks, the curvaceous redhead who appears in the Mad Men drama.

"How good does she look? I mean, it's a no-brainer. That woman is just totally sex on legs, isn't she? That woman works it, and beautifully."

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