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The dress code of royalty according to The Vampire's Wife

From the London underground scene to the first official portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

The dress code of royalty according to The Vampire's Wife From the London underground scene to the first official portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

On Thursday 23 June, the first official portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, by award-winning British portrait artist Jamie Coreth, was unveiled. For the occasion, Lady Middleton chose to wear an emerald metallic silk dress with puffed sleeves in full 'prohibitionist' style, the Falconetti Dress by The Vampire's Wife brand, the same one she had already sported for a visit to the Guinness factory in Dublin in 2020. It was a rather unexpected decision on the part of the future queen to turn to an underground brand for her first official couple's portrait. Not so much because of the dress itself, which in length and inches of skin left uncovered meets the requirements of the label, but rather because, while the British brand respects the patriotic obligation of monarchs' wardrobes to promote local fashion, it departs from the chaste, monochromatic sheath dresses we are used to seeing on official occasions.

The Vampire's Wife has been one of the few brands capable of simultaneously winning the approval of the fashion elite and the royal family. Co-founded by Susie Cave, wife of rock star Nick Cave and former model for the likes of Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Vivienne Westwood, and her friend and business partner Alex Adamson in 2014, the project was initially conceived as an 'insiders-only' capsule collection, before British trendsetters such as Sienna Miller, Alexa Chung and Kate Moss, as well as Cate Blanchett and Salma Hayek, realised its potential, making the chaste 3. 000 pounds each the new object of desire in international fashion.

«I emphasise the female form, the waist, the shoulders, making them quite big so that the wearer feels strong, but with very simple lines, so as not to be pretentious. In a way, I am very minimalist. That's how it all started» - Susie Cave told Vogue, who with her lunar complexion and raven hair does indeed look like the perfect consort for the 'Prince of Darkness', as her husband was nicknamed. Floral prints in perfect 'prairie house' style alternate with opulent monochrome velvet, silk bow-collared dresses and padded shoulders, highly wearable and always flattering silhouettes, a certain macabre Victorian aesthetic that draws inspiration from the poems of Gwendolyn Brooks and Shu Chi'i-siang, Mary Shelley and Isabella Rossellini. «They make you feel like you're practising witchcraft in a very romantic cult, which is the way I always want to appear. As a musician, I worship at the altar of Nick Cave, so I've always been fascinated by Susie as his enigmatic muse and inspiration. It was wonderful to see the muse become the creator in turn» said Florence Welsh. This was the formula that won over, even before Kate, Princess Beatrice, who owns at least three of the brand's dresses, while at the 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, three different guests were seen wearing garments from the independent label.

When Kate Middleton first wore the shimmering green dress in March 2020, British Vogue proclaimed it a 'major moment in royal dresses history' while the Evening Standard said she had bid 'farewell to sartorial confidence'. Given its success, she has since turned to the brand for other occasions, including a formal reception in Belize where she opted for a sparkling pink gown, bypassing the solid but boring suits by Eponine, Catherine Walker or Boden. For the Duchess, this metallic midi dress represented a risk: cool, but modest, vintage-inspired, but not drab, a difficult balance to find in a dress. As the future queen, Kate's whole life is based on the balance between tradition and modernity, including her style. She has never indulged in the matching hats of Queen Elizabeth, but the Duchess is also not known for being a trendsetter outside the box. Susie Cave may not have been thinking about the royal family when she created her line, but she may have created the perfect brand to accompany the Duchess of Cambridge towards her coronation.