Kate Middleton made a bold fashion statement on Monday as she wore her annual appearance to the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in a new sharp-cut skirt suit from stalwart fashion label Erdem.
Part of Erdem’s Pre-Fall 2023 collection, Kate’s suit featured an exaggerated peplum jacket and fluted skirt in a navy and white floral print. The bold, edgy style is in keeping with the Queen’s more serious aesthetic, which has been adopted since becoming Princess of Wales in September 2022.
Kate has previously rarely worn skirt suits, opting instead more often for the classically tailored coat dresses with which she is so closely associated, usually designed by the House of Alexander McQueen or a label often endorsed by her mother-in-law Princess Diana, Catherine Walker & Co .
Towards the end of her life, which came to an abrupt end at the age of 36 in a car accident in Paris in 1997, Diana was increasingly spotted at daytime events and off-duty meetings in smart, tailored skirt suits, an almost streamlined uniform in keeping with the 1990s drive for simplicity.
Following her official separation from King Charles (then Prince of Wales) in 1992 and final divorce in 1996, Diana increasingly began to patronize fashion designers outside the UK. One of her favorites, who also became a close friend, was Gianni Versace.
Versace created a range of elegant skirt suits for Diana, which became the basis of a 1995 Princess-inspired capsule.
After the deaths of Versace and Diana, the designer’s sister, Donatella, described to author Georgina Howell what made royal style so different.
“In 1995, my brother dedicated a collection to the princess that he called ‘Conservative Chic,'” she said.
“The look was embodied by the slim, knee-length, pastel-hued shift dress that the princess loves to wear as she transforms into a modern, independent, stylish woman. These dresses emphasized her silhouette and slim figure. She was a woman who moved with the times and understood what suited her.”
Versace’s Spring 1995 Conservative Chic fashion show opened with a white skirt suit, which Diana later wore on a visit to Argentina. The collection included nine separate skirt suits in monochrome and pastel tones.
In addition to Versace, Diana also owned skirt suits from design houses Catherine Walker, Chanel, Moschino, Louis Feraud, Tomasz Starzewski, Amanda Wakeley and David Sassoon.
Here, news week rounds off some of Princess Diana’s most stylish suiting moments.
Princess Diana wore a statement skirt suit in a contrasting red and black oversized houndstooth pattern when she arrived in Toronto as part of a visit to Canada with Prince Charles.
The suit was a favorite of the princess, having first worn it for the royal family’s Christmas Day celebrations in 1990. In 1992 she wore it publicly for the third time during a visit to the National Hospital for Neurology And Neurosurgery in London.
Chosen from Versace’s Conservative Chic collection, Diana wore a pale pink suit with a structured skirt when she visited the Princess of Wales’ Regiment in Canterbury in May 1995.
For the occasion, the princess wore the suit with a Jackie Kennedy-style pillbox hat. She would wear the suit again on a visit to Argentina that year.
On a visit to Liverpool in November 1995, Princess Diana opted for a striking egg yolk skirt suit with a peplum at the waist and a black belt.
The suit has inspired a number of replicas over the years, one was worn by Kate Middleton at an early royal engagement following her engagement to Prince William, this time in red.
Princess Diana was a frequent buyer of Parisian fashion house Chanel’s ready-to-wear suits, and for an official visit to the opening of the new kidney ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in 1997, she opted for a pale pistachio green model with a statement detailing gold buttons.
Chanel, April 1997
Worn in the last year of her life, one of Princess Diana’s most famous Chanel outfits was a signature tweed ensemble that made the house famous in the 1950s.
The blue and white speckled suit was worn by Diana on numerous occasions, most notably at the confirmation service for Prince William at Windsor Castle.
Princess Diana’s last work trip abroad was in June 1997 when she traveled to the United States to promote her campaign to ban the use and manufacture of anti-personnel mines.
For a Red Cross speech in Washington DC, the princess wore a lavender suit with a matching belt that contrasted with her tan and golden hair.
James Crawford-Smith is latestpagenews’s royal reporter in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and keep reading his stories news week‘s Facebook page of the royals.