By Jak Burke
A recent portrait of the Queen of England surrounded by her grand-children and great-grandchildren by Annie Leibovitz to commemorate the Queen’s 90th birthday has done much to kickstart a fashion revolution, say some members of the media. The revolution in question has to do with the return of that quintessentially English Upper-Class style currently favored by parents of the youngest royals.
Look at the above photograph for example. Remove the color and it could have been taken in the 1940’s. The exception, ironically, being the subject of the portrait herself, who wears a modern open-necked blouse, a medium length skirt and more casual shoes. The image also evokes the style of a great master’s oil painting with its rich earth-colored tones. Everything conspires to escape the realism and naked detail that photography offers. This is deliberative, if one remembers how the British regard their sovereign: as something beyond the norm or the constraints of time. The Windsors are an institution and one that not too long ago came under criticism for being out of touch with ordinary British citizens.
This swing back to tradition – in terms of what the royal children are wearing – is a clear indicator that the family feels confident that it remains a secure part of Britain’s future. Whether you agree that a monarchy has any valid role to play in a modern society or not – this switch back to a conservative, Upper-Crust look is making waves in the juvenile fashion market.
Two brands stand out: Rachel Riley for Prince George and m + h for Princess Charlotte. Both apparel companies offer very traditional, simple designs that are affordable. Essentially the messaging is for consumers “you too can afford to dress your kids like royals” and it’s true. Unlike the labels that the elite used to wear in the 1930’s these newer brands are within reach. I think this is again a subtle yet deliberate intention set by the modern royals: “yes we are royal but we are not beyond your reach”. Which is clever marketing of the royal brand.
It’s good news for the chosen brands too as sales soar each time there is a release of royal children wearing their items. Romper suits and infant frocks with bloomers, as well as the classic t-bar shoes are all making a massive come back. They are also inspiring new lines. Maternity retail brand Seraphine recently created an infant line called The Diana Collection which clearly samples the styles, designs and history of the British royal family. In the U.S our own conservative styles can be found in a Marc Jacobs or Burberry store but these can be cost-prohibitive for families on a clothing budget. Affordable alternatives like Land’s End, Gap and Polarn O Pyret canbe the next best thing for a Sunday best or a special portrait.
Whether you’re a fan of classic European kidswear or not, one thing’s for sure, the new mini royals are already iconic fashion ambassadors who will be around for many years to come.