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
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.
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.
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.