Tuesday 20 November 2018

Meghan Markle champions this Irish designer for the first time in slinky white gown in Tonga

"I can't believe this has happened. I've been watching morning, noon and night since Meghan went on tour in Australia and we didn't know if she would wear my gown because she was cutting back on her schedule," says Irish designer Don O'Neill

The Duchess of Sussex attending an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country
The Duchess of Sussex attending an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country.
The Duchess of Sussex attending an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country
The Duchess of Sussex attending an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country
The Duchess of Sussex attending an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 25, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Paul Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive at Fua'amotu airport on the main island Tongatapu in Tonga October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, flanked by Tonga's Princess Angelika Latufuipeka, arrive at Fua'amotu airport on the main island Tongatapu in Tonga October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at Fua'amotu Airport, Tonga, on day one of the royal couple's visit to Tonga
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are seen on day 3 of their visit to Fiji on October 25, 2018 in Suva, Fiji
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are seen on day 3 of their visit to Fiji on October 25, 2018 in Suva, Fiji
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Unveiling of the Labalaba Statue on October 25, 2018 in Suva, Fiji
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Unveiling of the Labalaba Statue Meghan, Duchess of Sussex looking straight to camera on October 25, 2018 in Suva, Fiji
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Unveiling of the Labalaba Statue Meghan, Duchess of Sussex looking straight to camera on October 25, 2018 in Suva, Fiji
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Unveiling of the Labalaba Statue on October 25, 2018 in Suva, Fiji
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Unveiling of the Labalaba Statue on October 25, 2018 in Suva, Fiji
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at Fua'amotu Airport, Tonga, on day one of the royal couple's visit to Tonga
The Duchess of Sussex's hair blows in the wind as she attends the unveiling of a statue commemorating Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, at Nadi Airport, in Nadi, Fiji, on day three of the royal couple's visit to Fiji
Meghan, Britain's Duchess of Sussex, attends a ceremony at Nadi airport in Nadi, Fiji, October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, attend a ceremony at Nadi airport in Nadi, Fiji, October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive at Nadi airport in Nadi, Fiji, October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Fua'amotu airport in Tonga on October 25, 2018
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Fua'amotu airport in Tonga on October 25, 2018
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Fua'amotu airport in Tonga on October 25, 2018
Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (R) gestures beside Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama during a farewell ceremony at Nadi airport on October 25, 2018
Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (R) gestures beside Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama during a farewell ceremony at Nadi airport on October 25, 2018
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive for their farewell ceremony at Nadi airport on October 25, 2018

Caitlin McBride and Bairbre Power

After five months officially in the Britain's royal family and nine days into her 16-day royal tour with Prince Harry, it's safe to say Meghan Markle has found her fashion feet.

And during that time, the Duchess of Sussex has made no secret of her appreciation for Ireland, choosing Dublin as her first port of call for a brief international mini-tour soon after her May wedding, but also through her choice of dress. Over the last year, she has often championed royal-milliner-of-choice Philip Treacy on a number of occasions (including in Sydney).

Her affection for Irish design has reached new heights as she sashayed into a dinner with the king and queen of Tonga at Nuku'alofa, wearing a white slinky gown by THEIA, the brand spearheaded by Kerryman Don O'Neill, whose work is often seen on the Oscars red carpet or hanging up in Oprah's wardrobe. The cap sleeve beaded silk satin column gown is also available in navy and retails for €1,140, and royal fashion watchers were in a particular frenzy as this is the first time she has been pictured in white since her wedding day.

She finished off the look, reportedly styled by her best friend Jessica Mulroney, with some of her preferred accessories: a black Givenchy clutch, Aquazurra slingbacks, Birks snowflake diamond earrings, and once again wearing Princess Diana's aquamarine ring, which was gifted to her by her husband.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend an official welcome at Consular House in Tonga on the first day of their visit to the country

Speaking to independent.ie from his Brooklyn home today, Don explained that after seeing the turquoise version from his pre-fall collection, her stylist reached out and asked if it could be customised in ivory.

"Then I got an email saying that the duchess loved the dress and could I make it again in exactly the same size but with bigger seam allowances, so I stopped working on my upcoming bridal collection and we made the second dress within eight hours," he said.

"We knew immediately why this extra allowance was required, but mum’s the word - and with less than one week to my bridal show, all hands were on deck once more - we re-made the gown and I literally had to run down Broadway that Friday night to catch the UPS truck making it with just two minutes to spare.

"I can't believe this has happened. I've been watching morning, noon and night since Meghan went on tour in Australia and we didn't know if she would wear my gown because she was cutting back on her schedule."

Mr O'Neill described her as a "source of inspiration", particularly for his bridal collection, praising her "classic and effortless" style.

"I am humbled and so excited to dress The Duchess of Sussex. It has been an exciting whirlwind collaboration," he added.

Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Fua'amotu airport in Tonga on October 25, 2018
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Fua'amotu airport in Tonga on October 25, 2018

Since touching down in Australia for the first leg of their international tour Down Under, the duchess has led a veritable parade of glamorous gowns interspersed with casual dresses, all while adjusting to her ever-growing baby bump. For their final day in Fiji, she chose one of her preferred shades - forest green - by American designer Jason Wu, making a statement with her Peepal Leaf Earrings by Pippa Small, as tracked down by Meghan's Mirror.

When they touched down in Tonga, it was a quick change into a 'Tongan red' Self Portrait midi dress, a look which has overall been deemed a win, even if she did suffer a wardrobe malfunction when she was caught with her tag hanging loose below the hem. While the former actress hasn't yet fully mastered the art of fashion diplomacy, her subtle nods to the countries she's visiting seems to be whetting the appetites of fans and critics - not only for her nearly flawless choices, but also the fact that she's making chic maternity wear look like a cinch.

Online Editors

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