Like them, love them or despise them, political and royal influencers churn up the Internet nearly instantaneously with every public outing.
Whether stepping out for a diplomatic gala dinner, a schoolyard visit with wide-eyed students or for a hardhat-worthy ribbon cutting ceremony, the powers-that-be dress accordingly, knowing their choices will send sales skyrocketing. Their personal fashion loyalties vary — Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel favors pantsuits, beleaguered British Prime Minister Theresa May prefers skirt suits, France’s First Lady Brigitte Macron is all about Louis Vuitton and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump is nonpartisan in terms of designers.
As a sign of their global reach, the newly minted Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, topped Google’s 10 most-searched people list last year. For her first official tour, with Prince Harry last fall, to Australia, the American-born royal packed plenty of options for the 16-day trip. Occasionally changing twice in one day, the former “Suits” actress wore an assortment of Australian labels, as well as Brandon Maxwell, Jason Wu, Roksanda Ilincic, Stuart Weitzman, Manolo Blahnik, Gucci and Birks.
Before last spring’s royal wedding, it was estimated that the net present value to brands that Markle wears was 150 million pounds, or $212.1 million, according to David Haigh, chief executive officer of Brand Finance. The Meghan economy – as in the surge in business for brands she wears — has materialized in different ways, such as new accounts, spikes in online sales and in some cases worldwide media coverage. After Markle wore Outland Denim on five occasions during the royals’ Australian tour, the company, which relies on craftspeople in Cambodia, said it would hire 15 to 30 seamstresses as a result.
Her stylist and maid of honor Jessica Mulroney is another beneficiary, having lined up a “Good Morning America” gig and an extended partnership with Hudson’s Bay. While royal watchers are fixated on the Fab Four’s (Harry, Meghan and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) body language amid rumblings of strained relations, consumers tend to zero in on their fashion choices. When the Duchess of Cambridge repeats outfits, as she is known to do, the media is quick to take note, as was the case when she wore a jewel-toned Jenny Packham gown and platform Jimmy Choo sandals in November.
Melania Trump sends social media into overdrive practically with ever fashion choice. During the first couple’s post-Christmas surprise trip to Iraq, Victoria Beckham, J Brand and Timberland were among the labels she wore. The tan leather leggings she paired with a green belted trench to step off Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews stirred up social media critics. Her choice of a $39 Zara Army green hooded jacket with lettering on the back that read, “I really don’t care, do u?” for a visit to a detention center in Texas last June sparked outrage.
Trump’s stylist Hervé Pierre said at the time that he had never seen the controversial jacket.
Reached Wednesday, Pierre, who also has his own label, Atelier Caito for Hervé Pierre, said there are so many social media platforms that are following what the First Lady wears “that they have their own comments. They don’t need me. Immediately, very often, they find their own sources of reference, which most of the time — I had never thought of.”
Pierre cited the white hat FLOTUS wore during a state visit with French President Emmanuel Macron as an example. They mentioned Beyoncé. “As you can imagine, I didn’t think of Beyoncé,” he said, “People make their own judgment and reviews. They don’t need me.”
During a talk last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière said France’s first lady was a client of his before his Vuitton days, although she has since gone to a Vuitton fashion show. Before her husband ran for France’s top job, she consulted with Ghesquière about confidence-building campaign attire. “This is not a woman who needs a lot of advice, to be honest. She knows exactly who she is. She has a very great personal style and she knows what she likes,” he said. “So it was very easy to help in a way.”
Another indicator of the worldwide recognition garnered by these high-profile figures will be evident at the U.S. Bridelux Wedding Atelier on Jan. 13 in New York. To give the event a royal twist, florist Philippa Craddock and Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes, whom Markle tapped for her wedding, will each be at the event.