Previously published in Life With Style Magazine (Click to enlarge)
A New Era In British Fashion Influence?
Are we entering a period of greater British influence in fashion and style? According to The New York Times, the Royal wedding between Prince William and the stylish Kate Middleton drew a worldwide audience of three billion. Since the engagement announcement, intense focus was on the now former commoner. Many wondered with great interest, who is Kate Middleton? Images of Kate flew about globally in magazines, newspapers and the Internet and her sartorial choices were scrutinised. By all measures, the future Princess passed the style test. To a lesser degree, focus on the wedding brought inevitable attention to Prince William as well.
What did observers see and what exactly is the British style? Kate Middleton donned elegant choices that were well-cut and flattering. Many found it interesting that some of her clothing choices were not from higher priced designer labels, but rather, from High Street retailers such as Topshop. She showed an ability to choose well-cut and flattering pieces from shops the masses could relate to. This had two important messages; the British public who wondered if this future Princess was someone they could relate to, found through her attire that she was down-to-earth and able to bridge the gap between the Royals and the masses. Sartorially, woman around the world viewed a potential role model with elegant style in a fashion that was particularly British.
Even on the day of the wedding, we learned Kate Middleton gave a courteous nod to English fashion by having the House of Alexander McQueen design her wedding dress. The global fashion community was abuzz with the confirmation that deceased Alexander McQueen would live on in name through the talented designers who filled his shoes and remain working under the label that bears his name. In itself, this sub-plot for the wedding proved to be a pivotal moment for the British fashion house and arguably, British fashion as well.
What exactly is British fashion? Working from the perspective of a New Yorker, British fashion seems to lie somewhere between that of American and French. American fashion, particularly in New York, seems to be driven by proper designer labels with less emphasis on good cuts that are flattering and feminine. The French tend to buy fewer clothes, focusing on acquiring pieces that are elegant, if not ostentatious, well-cut and often from lesser known but higher-quality boutiques. The high-quality, less is-more French approach to style is stark in contrast to American style, with that of the British falling nicely between the two.
Walking through the streets of London, it’s quite apparent that English woman are comfortable being feminine and conscious of clothing choices that are flattering to their unique build. London daywear is far more elegant than that of New York with flowing dresses and pleasing choices of accessories that breathe French influence. From top to bottom, English men are excellently attired. Bespoke and otherwise well-fitting, appropriate clothing and shoes is the norm with choices of understated accessories such as pocket squares, ascots and a fair amount of colour to show individuality. Most British men wouldn’t think of not wearing a suit and tie to an office environment whereas Americans have drifted to the ‘business casual’ abyss. Walking the streets of London is a sartorial pleasure of understated elegance.
When British style comes to mind I think of good friend, Londoner, Ava Bergman. A highly accomplished model who has appeared frequently in magazines around the world, including the cover of German Vogue, Ava’s style is impeccable. Conscious of appropriate and flattering clothing that is well-cut and tailored, she accessorises elegantly. Her look is eye-catching, feminine and graceful and her physical attractiveness is obvious. However, her accompanying sartorial choices present an overall persona, creating an aura of inspired magnetism that is clearly illustrated by the reactions of others, as they are drawn-in to her presence as she walks the streets of London.
If Kate Middleton and Ava Bergman are the epitome of British fashion, we can only hope it spreads the world over.
Michael Cress, The New York Sartorialist for Life With Style Magazine