Throughout the couple’s travels, Meghan pulled out all the stops and delivered A-plus fashion looks at every destination. The duchess wore top-luxury designs from Givenchy, Brandon Maxwell, and Jason Wu, as well as pieces from lesser-known designers, like New Zealand label Maggie Marilyn and New York label Cuyana.
She also made a concentrated effort to wear outfits by several designers from the region she was visiting. For example, she wore looks from Australian designer Martin Grant and New Zealand designer Karen Walker on several occasions during the trip. Given that the “Meghan Markle effect” is very real, she has been able to increase the visibility of many designers simply by wearing a garment, a pair of shoes, or jewelry from them. In the past, she’s caused designer websites to crash, and during this tour, she has generated enough buzz for Outland Denim through her sartorial choices that the company could create new jobs from the sales.
To highlight some of the lesser-known designers whose looks Meghan has worn on this tour, Yahoo Lifestyle created a cheat sheet for the top 10 brands to know and shop today.
Self-Portrait has easily become a go-to label for Meghan Markle. Established in 2013 by Han Chong, a Malaysian designer who studied at the prestigious Central Saint Martins art school in London, Self-Portrait is best known for dresses made with colorful lace, pleats, and ruffles. Chong is a genius when it comes to elegant, feminine dresses that have a modern flair. It’s no wonder that Chong has steadily grown an A-list roster of celebrity fans like Meghan and Reese Witherspoon. The duchess’s dress is a custom design by Chong for her visit to Tonga. The bright red color is a reference to the Tongan flag. You can preorder a similar version now, which will be available to ship on Dec. 14, just in time for the holidays.
For Meghan Markle’s first stop in New Zealand, she fittingly chose to wear a plaid trench coat by New Zealand designer Karen Walker. Walker is a seasoned talent in the New York fashion scene. She’s best known for her avant-garde sunglasses but has a full collection with ready-to-wear fashions, accessories, handbags, and a fragrance. Aside from Meghan, her celebrity fan base is large, including Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, Lady Gaga, and others. Unfortunately, the trench coat color that Meghan wore is currently sold out, but you can find the same trench in dark navy below (another favorite color of the duchess).
Shop it: Karen Walker Banks Trench in dark navy, $750, karenwalker.com
Meghan wore Rothy’s black flats while walking hand-in-hand with Prince Harry on the beach in Melbourne, Australia. Rothy’s was conceptualized by two men, Roth Martin and Stephen Hawthornwaite. The two men sought to create stylish, comfortable, and affordable shoes for women around the globe, all with sustainability in mind. They combined their business savvy and creativity to design a product that hits all the key points: style, comfort, and sustainability. Rothy’s flats have a carbon-free rubber sole and a seamless knit structure. They’re also lightweight and machine-washable. Rothy’s has a wide assortment of flats, as well as sneakers, in a variety of prints, such as leopard, and bright colors — one for every type of personality.
During a visit to the Courtenay Creative in Wellington, New Zealand, the duchess chose to wear a white blazer dress by 24-year-old local designer Maggie Marilyn. Her eponymous brand is barely two years old, but that hasn’t stopped the designer from garnering worldwide success. Her designs are sophisticated and tailored, all with an eco-edge. Sustainability is a core part of her business model. The majority of Marilyn’s clothing is manufactured in a factory in Auckland, 10 minutes from her studio. She uses fabrics like organic cotton, organic wool, and recycled polyester, all of which are ethically produced. She describes the Maggie Marilyn girl as a “feminist” and “an environmentalist” on her website. Although the Leap of Faith Blazer Dress that Meghan wore is currently sold out, you can still inquire via email for it. And if your heart still desires a white blazer dress today, you can find a similar version below.
Meghan Markle wore Outland Denim jeans with a Serena Williams blazer for a visit to Victoria Park in Dubbo, Australia. Outland Denim is an ethical and sustainable Australia-based denim brand. It was founded by James Bartle after he met an anti-trafficking group at a music festival. This kindled his passion to create a company that would employ young girls at risk for trafficking in Asia, utilizing their sewing skills to create a premium-quality product. Today, Outland Denim has a factory in Cambodia, where operations such as training and development, as well as wages, are set up to ensure the highest standards for its seamstresses. The jeans use ethically sourced materials and recycled materials for their packaging. After Meghan wore Outland Denim’s black skinny jeans, the company saw a record 948 percent increase in traffic on the site and is using its new sales to reinvest in the company by hiring 15 to 30 new seamstresses. A true example of the Meghan Markle effect.
Martin Grant is an Australian designer whose looks have been worn by the Duchess of Sussex on several occasions during the 16-day royal tour. For a visit to Tongan Prime Minister S. Akilisi Pohiva, she chose a green-and-white-striped dress from Grant’s Spring 2019 collection. Grant began his career at 16 when he launched his first ready-to-wear collection. Since then, he has served as the artistic director for Barneys New York’s in-house label and for Agnona before shifting focus to his eponymous label. In addition to Meghan Markle, Grant’s celebrity clientele has included Cate Blanchett, Emma Stone, and Queen Rania of Jordan.
In a visit to Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, Meghan paired her striped Martin Grant dress with a chic pair of black canvas espadrille wedges by Castañer. This Catalonian footwear label has a rich history dating back to 1776, when the family-owned company’s first espadrille designer, Rafael Castañer, was born. But it wasn’t until Lorenzo Castañer and his wife, Isabel, took over the company in 1960 that it became the worldwide business success it is today. In a strategic move during the 1960s and ’70s, Castañer partnered with Yves Saint Laurent to catapult the espadrille to fashion stardom. Today, the Castañer factory creates luxury espadrilles for Lanvin, Hermès, and Christian Louboutin, as well as its own in-house styles, like the pair Meghan sported.
While in Fiji, Meghan Markle made a special tribute to Prince Charles by wearing gold leaf earrings and two bangles by British designer Pippa Small. The gold jewelry is from Small’s Turquoise Mountain collection, which involved working with artisans from the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Afghanistan. It’s a charity, founded by Prince Charles, that provides employment opportunities in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Myanmar by having local artisans continue their traditional crafts. As a child, Small used to love to play with beads and pebbles and would turn them into bracelets. This passion grew into a successful jewelry business whose creations are sold by luxury retailers around the globe. But similarly to the royal family, Small shares a passion for charitable projects, and like Charles, she is concerned with the welfare of indigenous and tribal groups. In the past, Small has worked with grassroots organizations in Thailand and India, and in 2013, she was awarded the MBE by Queen Elizabeth for her ethically produced jewelry and charity work.
Shop it: Pippa Small 22k Gold Peepal Leaf Earrings, $3,790, pippasmall.com
When departing for New Zealand at the Sydney airport, Meghan didn’t let her airport style slip in the least. She wore a burgundy Boss dress with a chic mini chain bag by Cuyana. The nude-colored bag is made of Italian leather and features gold hardware. Cuyana was founded by two women, Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah, and is based in San Francisco. Both women come from exceptional academic backgrounds — Gallardo from Stanford and Brown University and Shah from UC Berkeley. They combined their expertise in business and design to create beautiful, well-designed products for women everywhere.
Shop it: Cuyana Mini Chain Saddle Bag, $225, cuyana.com
During a visit to the Tupou College in Tonga, Meghan wore a sky-blue shirtdress by Veronica Beard. The duchess has been wearing Veronica Beard designs for years, but this dress is especially stunning in its bright shade. Veronica Beard was launched in 2010 by two sisters-in-law, Veronica Miele Beard and Veronica Swanson Beard, who married two brothers. They bridged the gap between the coasts to create sophisticated and tailored clothing that a New Yorker would love, with comfortable fabrics and silhouettes that any Californian would want. As a female-led company, they strongly believe in putting women first and ensuring that their collections make women feel confident no matter where they are from. Unfortunately, Meghan’s sky-blue dress is sold out, but you can still snag it in red.
Shop it: Veronica Beard Cary Dress, $595, veronicabeard.com
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