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Simple is the new elegant

After a period of speculations and anxiety over how the royal wedding will be, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, finally tied the knot at St George’s Chapel last weekend.

Meghan wowed billions of people all over the world who were glued on their TVs, some streaming live, as the former Suits star walked down the isle in a stunning Givenchy wedding dress by British designer Clare Waight Keller.

The dress was free of extravagant embellishments. It was not covered in yards of delicate lace. It did not have a single ruffle — no pearls or crystals. Its beauty was in its architectural lines and its confident restraint.

While Prince Harry told his new bride “you look amazing” when she reached the altar, not everyone agrees. Here in Kenya, Fashionista Carol Odera was one of the people who were disappointed by Meghan’s look as she expected a more flamboyant gown and make-up from Meghan.

“I expected it to be more princess like. It should have been more. The make-up was also not outstanding,” commented Carol on a local TV show.

Kenyans on social media did not take Carol’s remarks kindly and were quick to defend this new idea of simple, but elegant that the new Duchess portrayed.

It is clear that royal gowns and looks have a direct impact in fashion as well as the perceptions of people in the society. “The dress epitomises a timeless minimal elegance referencing the codes of the iconic House of Givenchy and showcasing the expert craftsmanship of its world-renowned Parisian couture atelier founded in 1952,” said the press release from the palace defending Meghan’s look.

Fashion designer Monica Kanari who has been in the industry for 15 years feels that Meghan’s gown introduced a boldness of a minimalistic look, which has not been seen for such a long time.

“I know it may not be the choice of many, but there is now a timeless choice of gown for the bride who dares to be different. An off shoulder bateau neckline gown in off white bridal silk with a clean cut bodice and a fit and flare bottom is the sort of simplicity self-confident bride would wear,” she adds.

To complete her bridal look, Meghan wore Queen Mary Filigree tiara, pulled back her hair, and had a natural make-up look, which showcased her freckles. Make-up mogul Suzie Wokabi feels that Meghan’s less is more look, should be the make-up look mantra.

“None of it was exaggerated or overdone to create that perfect look. Nude colours were only used on the eyes and lips, with the only drama on the lashes to open up the eyes gorgeously. This is how a bride should look like and more so, a princess,” she says.

Here in Kenya, this simple, but elegant look was seen in 2016 when Wambui Kamiru said I do to the love of her life, Safaricom boss, Bob Collymore in an invites-only affair after dating for three years.

Social media was awash with photos showing the couple beaming with joy, with Bob in a casual, collarless linen suit of white while the bride looked stunning in a knee-length sheath dress. The couple was lauded for this simple as impressive for a man who earns Sh10 million a month.

According to sociologist lecturer, Jennifer Kosgei, one of the paradoxes of fashion is that it is sometimes employed to compensate for people’s sense of inferiority.

When people dress in the latest fashions, or don in expensive gowns they are marked as of the élite. The nouveau riche always attempt to keep up with styles in consumption of goods as well as by showing evidences of conspicuous leisure.

“Meghan took that bold step to be herself in the midst of all the societal expectations of how a princess should look like. The look was bold and defiant making a bold statement of an independent woman who was not afraid of what the world would think about her look like,” says  Kosgei.

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