On Monday evening, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their first (virtual) appearance since a series of announcements last week which confirmed that they are expecting their second child, will be taking part in an Oprah interview and have left the Royal family permanently, after a trial year of separation.
In a short Spotify video, Meghan and Harry discussed the aims of their new Archewell podcast. But it was the Duchess’s dress which spoke volumes about how she and her husband are feeling now that the world knows some of what their next chapter will look like.
Meghan opted for a £2,645 dress by one of her favourite American labels, Oscar de la Renta. The Citrus Primavera peplum hem dress, available to buy at Saks, isn’t a maternity-specific piece, but its relaxed trapeze cut worked perfectly to accommodate the Duchess’s growing bump.
With its vivid leaf appliqué and lemon decoration, the design speaks of spring and fresh beginnings, symbols which echo the same themes seen in the portrait taken by British photographer Misan Harriman to mark the pregnancy announcement.
“With the tree of life behind them and the garden representing fertility, life and moving forward, they didn’t need any direction, because they are, and always have been, waltzing through life together as absolute soulmates,” Harriman told British Vogue of the composition of his image, which went viral on Valentine’s Day.
Meghan often prefers to wear neutral, pared-back pieces which work with her refined personal style, but she will occasionally experiment with more maximalist options. Oscar de la Renta has provided some of the most memorable of these during her public life.
There was the blue and white floral patterned maxi dress which she wore to the wedding of Harry’s cousin, Celia McCorquodale in June 2018 and a spectacular tulle cocktail dress worn to the Australia Geographic Society Awards in Sydney in October the same year. That dress was decorated with flocks of birds to reflect the evening’s theme.
The house, founded by Mr de la Renta in 1965, has personal meaning to Meghan. She asked its creative directors Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim to create an outfit for her mother, Doria Ragland, to wear to the Royal wedding at St George’s chapel in May 2018. The simple, pale mint coat and dress which they created was a triumph, combining modernity and classic elegance for Meghan’s mother who was praised for her cool composure (and nose ring) as the Duchess’s only relative at the ceremony.
That Meghan has chosen Oscar de la Renta for this significant moment suggests that it will be one of the labels to continue dressing her as she and Prince Harry embark on their new chapter. In the pregnancy announcement portrait, the Duchess wore a dress by Carolina Herrera, a label which, like Oscar de la Renta, once catered to the crème de la crème of American society.
Now that the Duchess is putting firm roots back down in California, these two New York institutions look set to help Meghan define her post-working-royal look. The subtext with this citrus adorned dress? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.