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Over before it began - Meghan Markle won’t be ‘Duchess of Dior’ after all

Duchess of fashion? Meghan set to join Dior's celebrity roster
Duchess of fashion? Meghan set to join Dior's celebrity roster Copyright WWD/Getty
Copyright WWD/Getty
By Saskia O'Donoghue
Published on Updated
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Following days of rumours, a spokesman for the French fashion house in Paris says there have been no contract negotiations or recent contact with the Duchess of Sussex

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Following the end of her podcast, cancelled by Spotify after just one season, rumours were abound that Meghan Markle was set to take on a new starring role as the face of Dior.

Sadly for royal fans, hopes for the alleged collaboration has been dashed, with a spokesman for the luxury fashion house telling Women's Wear Daily the reports were unfounded and that there had been no contract negotiations or recent contact with Markle.

The Duchess of Sussex has worn Dior numerous times throughout her time as a working royal, including at the late Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee and for the monarch’s funeral last September. Her husband, Prince Harry, also chose a Dior suit for the recent coronation of King Charles.

While Markle would have fit in perfectly to the Dior ambassador roster, which boasts countless famous faces including Robert Pattinson and Emma Raducanu, she will not be signing a deal with them, despite some media outlets predicting such an agreement could have netted her a staggering $20million (or some €18.2m) over three years.

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"Grifters" or clever hustlers? Harry and Meghan in 2022AP

However, it’s still entirely possible that Markle could become the face of another high fashion brand, especially considering her position as a non-working royal, which gives her more freedom to pursue a multitude of money making avenues.

Back in April, Markle signed up with talent agency WME and it appears their latest mission is to 're-invent' the royal in the wake of negative publicity surrounding she and Harry’s apparently strained relationship with his family, especially with regard to the publication of his ‘tell-all’ book ‘Spare’.

With their popularity dented in the U.S. as well as across the pond, Meghan potentially signing up as the public face of a popular brand would likely go some way to rehabilitate their image.

It is fairly unusual for a top royal to collaborate with any brand as the rules on not accepting income from ‘outside’ sources are fairly watertight. King Charles’ niece Zara Phillips is an exception in the UK, though, having been an ambassador for Musto’s equestrian wing for several years but she is not as high up the royal ladder as Meghan would be if she hadn’t quit the UK.

“As a working royal Meghan wouldn’t have been able to accept money as they can’t receive any other income”, Josh Herbert, stylist and founder of Captain Creps, told Euronews Culture, adding, “Although Meghan has been classed as a fashion influencer for years she couldn’t officially become a brand ambassador or be paid to promote a label”. 

Herbert explains that there has long been a tradition of senior royals favouring specific designers - Princess Kate wears a lot of Alexander McQueen, for instance, but while they aren’t allowed to collaborate with brands, this unofficial nod of approval is great PR for the companies.

“The extended family… are able to use their royal connection to bring in some extra cash by being legitimate brand ambassadors” he says.

This isn’t just the case in the UK. In Monaco, Charlotte Casiraghi, who is eleventh in line to the throne as well as being the niece of the monarch, Prince Albert, has acted as the face of Gucci’s cosmetics line.

The rumours about Meghan potentially becoming the 'Duchess of Dior' came after a Spotify executive dubbed she and Harry "f***ing grifters" following the abrupt end to their $25 million (approx. €22.8 million) deal with the streaming giant.

Bill Simmons, the head of podcast innovation and monetization at Spotify, speaking on his self-titled podcast, said, “‘The F***ing Grifters’. That’s the podcast we should’ve launched with them”, adding, “I gotta get drunk one night and tell the story of the Zoom I had with Harry to try and help him with a podcast idea. It’s one of my best stories”.

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Meghan Markle wearing Dior with the late Queen ElizabethGetty

Last Friday, 16 June, Spotify cancelled its contract with Meghan and Harry after they failed to produce enough content on Meghan’s podcast, Archetypes.

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Focusing on stereotypes against women, their media company Archewell managed to deliver just 13 hours of the podcast in three years. In a mutual statement from the company and the streaming giant claimed the two parties had "mutually agreed to part ways".

Since quitting their roles as official royals in January 2020, the couple have largely had to fund their own extravagant lifestyles, despite the then-Prince Charles gifting them "a substantial sum" to support their transition to financial independence.

Meghan and Harry made the move from the palaces of the United Kingdom to a 16-bathroom Montecito, California mansion following their apparent resentment at media intrusion and Buckingham Palace’s choice to disallow the pair to develop their ‘SussexRoyal’ brand.

Sygma via Getty Pictures
The late, great Princess Diana totes her Lady Dior bag in the '90sSygma via Getty Pictures

Despite no Dior collaboration on the horizon, the French fashion giant has had a close relationship with a number of high-ranking royals over the years.

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Meghan’s late mother-in-law, Princess Diana was famous for carrying her Lady Dior bag on countless occasions.

In 1995, Diana attended the opening of a Paul Cézanne retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris where the First Lady of France presented her with a brand new as-yet-unreleased Dior bag, which was then called 'Chouchou'.

The fashion house soon renamed the bag the ‘Lady Dior’ as a tribute to style icon Diana - born Lady Diana Spencer - who famously wore it to the 1996 Met Gala in New York. The bag has been reinvented and rereleased season after season, continuing Diana’s legacy.

The house’s founder, Christian Dior, dressed the late Queen’s sister Princess Margaret himself and wrote of her in his memoir, saying she "crystallised the whole popular frantic interest in royalty… she was a real fairy princess, delicate, graceful, exquisite".

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Meghan as a senior royal in 2018 with the then-Prince Charles and CamillaAP

Celebrity stylist and royal expert Leroy Dawkins, though, says the collaboration not going ahead is not necessarily a bad thing, suggesting that the royal family and critics on both sides of the pond would have been inclined to agree with Bill Simmons’ take.

“[People will see] them as being ‘grifters’ and ‘on the take’, it will buy them more fame with fans, but for the majority I think they will lose popularity as we have seen over the last few weeks their shine is certainly to fade”, Dawkins told Euronews Culture, adding, “some might say the Sussexes need a new PR team”.

There’s also King Charles’ opinion to consider if a future fashion collaboration does go ahead and it seems any deal may be somewhat of a double-edged sword.

“I imagine King Charles won’t be too impressed with the commercial alliance - just adding to the string of things that Megan does to divide herself from the Royal Family”, says Herbert, adding, “this, of course, can be seen as a positive thing, essentially bringing what some would consider a much needed boost of modernity into the monarchy (or at least a partnership more closely related to a brand and subject that people can identify with)”.

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While Meghan’s collaboration was over before it began and Princess Diana was never an official face of Dior, the brand is known for its high profile celebrity spokespeople.

Last month, actor Johnny Depp made his return to the luxury fashion house, signing a deal said to be worth upwards of $20million (or €18.2m) and K-pop favourite, BTS’ Jimin, was signed up as a global brand ambassador at the beginning of the year.

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Thai actors Nattawin Wattanagitiphat and Phakphum Romsaithong at a Dior show in MarchAP

Dior, headed up by creative director Kim Jones, also announced on Monday that they are putting Thai actors Nattawin Wattanagitiphat, better known as Apo, and Phakphum Romsaithong, nicknamed Mile, in place as its newest men’s ambassadors in Thailand.

The duo co-star in the hugely popular drama ‘KinnPorsche’ and boast millions of followers on Instagram.

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The acknowledgement of Thailand as a growing luxury market is another step likely to be emulated by other high end fashion brands.

The Asian country is a key emerging market for luxury brands, projected to be worth $4.6 billion - or €4.2 billion - in 2023 and it’s forecast to grow 5.6 percent annually in the next five years.

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