Meghan Markle displays flawless tour de couture during Dublin visit - but where were the Irish designers?
What a difference five years makes.
In 2013, Meghan Markle was in Dublin when she was actress on Suits, receiving an award on behalf of Trinity College's Philosophical Society, during which time she was pictured wearing a pair of faded skinny jeans, a neat navy coat with a Louis Vuitton Speedy bag draped on her arm.
This time around, she is here with new husband Prince Harry on an official state visit as Britain's Duchess of Sussex and sporting no less than four carefully choreographed ensembles in less than 48 hours.
When she touched down in Dublin Airport on Tuesday in a forest green Givenchy combination, she was careful to incorporate an appropriate nod to Ireland.
At the British Ambassador's garden party on Tuesday night, it was fitting she chose a British designer to mark the occasion, but her choice of a fit and flare LBD by Emilia Wickstead proved a controversial choice.
Wickstead famously criticised Meghan's wedding dress, describing it as "identical" to one of her designs, adding that the fit was "quite loose", later criticising her loose bun and hair wisps, saying, "It's a royal wedding for God's sake."
But fashion won't be the arena that Meghan executes her battle in if last night's look, an unofficial endorsement of the designer, is anything to go by.
Through their final day, she opted for two looks: starting with a stone Roland Mouret dress for a meeting with President Michael D.Higgins and his wife Sabina (not to mention their Bernese Mountain Dogs Sioda and Brod).
An hour later, there was a quick change into a black Givenchy suit, white t-shirt and patent leather heels, a look which carried her across the city at three different events: a crash course in GAA at Croke Park, followed by a brief tour of the Book of Kells and a visit to the Irish Famine Memorial.
Her wardrobe sent a message of empowerment – notably, that she continues to prominently wear labels run by women, but also that when she isn’t under the watchful eye of the palace, isn’t afraid to shake off protocol – i.e., out go the clutches and out come the oversized handle bags.
However, one obvious missing link in an otherwise flawless tour de couture was the glaring lack of Irish designers incorporated anywhere into her wardrobe. Wearing forest green for your first night just won't suffice as flying the Irish fashion flag when you've displayed outfits worth over €10,000 over the course of 36 hours.
Efficient fashion diplomacy is a difficult road to navigate and with a fashion industry brimming with talented (and London-based) names like Paul Costelloe, Simone Rocha and Richard Malone to choose from, there is a sense of frustration that she instead picked from the reliable roster she's come to champion over the last two years.
She did, however, express an interest in Irish fashion when speaking to 31-year-old Emma Manley, who runs her eponymous label, a cult brand among Irish celebrities, at the garden party.
"Meghan said she wants to talk and learn further about design, poetry and art in Ireland," Manley told independent.ie.
"I know they're not normal, but when you meet them, they are so respectful and were genuinely interested - you could tell they didn't just pre-rehearse questions."
Similarly, Helen Steele, was also on the guestlist, alongside fashion powerhouse Orla Kiely - whose designs are often worn by Kate Middleton, her sister Pippa and mother Carole - and spoke of her delight at being selected as an ambassador for Irish fashion.
"It was an absolutely surreal evening in the best possible way," she told independent.ie.
"It was a great mix of really impressive people and I kept getting the feeling of, 'What am I doing here?' Living on the border and hearing Prince Harry speak about the relationship and the importance of it being open and strong, I am certainly 100% behind that - it's why visits like this are so important, especially to border counties."
Former model Faye Dinsmore is believed to have gifted the duchess with one of her handmade Aran knit sweaters,
During a tour of the EPIC Museum, she did, however, speak of her appreciation for Galway milliner Philip Treacy, whose pieces she has worn nearly exclusively over the last three months. But with an impeccable dress sense and passion for trailblazing, this might just very well be the beginning.