With less than two months to go until King Charles’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey, preparations are well underway – including, of course, what everyone will wear. While it has already been revealed that the Queen Consort will wear a gown designed by Bruce Oldfield, the Princess of Wales’ choice remains a closely guarded secret, although either of her longtime go-to couturiers – Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen or Jenny Packham – would be the natural choice.
Catherine did, however, use another occasion at Westminster Abbey on Monday afternoon to give one of the clearest messages yet that she is ushering in a new style era now that Prince William is first in line to the throne, a hint – perhaps – of what’s to come on May 6.
For the Commonwealth Day service, the Princess eschewed the tailored coat-dresses which have become her formal daywear mainstay over the past decade and instead chose a sophisticated, fashion-forward skirt suit by London-based designer Erdem Moralioglu.
The suit is from Erdem’s pre-Fall 2023 collection so won’t be available to buy until later this year, but it has been open for pre orders in a trunk show on Moda Operandi, where the skirt retailed for $1,695 (£1,395) and the jacket cost $2,495 (£2,054). There was a romantic 1950s feel to her look which was accessorised with a jaunty yet elegant navy saucer hat with bow detail.
In a nod to the title she has now held for just over six months, Catherine wore the Prince of Wales three feathers brooch, a royal family heirloom dating back to 1863, and sapphire and diamond earrings which once belonged to Princess Diana.
In a message ahead of the service to celebrate Commonwealth Day, the King said that the occasion was one of “particular pride for my beloved mother, the late Queen – a treasured opportunity to celebrate our Commonwealth family, to whose service she dedicated her long and remarkable life.” It therefore seemed apt that Catherine’s look was reminiscent of the tailored outfits Queen Elizabeth wore in her first decade on the throne.
Moralioglu is an apt choice of designer, too. Born in Canada to a British mother and Turkish father, he represents one of the Commonwealth nations and its close ties to Britain. His designs have also been used by Catherine in the past to make an impactful fashion statement.
Most memorable was an elegantly tailored tweed dress which she wore in October 2018 – it was seen as a comeback moment after her maternity leave with Prince Louis and the beginning of a fresher, more youthful approach to her wardrobe at a time when the Duchess of Sussex was dominating headlines.
Now the Royal family is once again no doubt keen to remain exciting in the face of an almost unending stream of stories about Harry and Meghan, a chic new silhouette courtesy of a designer once cited as a favourite of the former actress is one way to do that.
And what does Catherine’s skirt suit tell us about her evolving style strategy as she approaches the Coronation? First of all, she's not afraid to take a risk. This skirt suit is tailored perfectly, but it's still outside her usual comfort zone. Secondly, she's not afraid to go “fashion”; where she once shied away from anything too trend-led, she’s now comfortable wearing an outfit straight from the designer’s lookbook. And thirdly, Queen Elizabeth II will forever remain a source of regal style inspiration.