The Queen at 90: a constant style icon

That there is absolutely nothing unexpected about the Queen’s choice of clothes to mark her landmark 90th birthday is precisely what is extraordinary. This Keep Calm and Carry On consistency is what makes her unique among modern figures. The merely famous parade their power by the impact they can make with a new look – Taylor Swift with her bleached crop on the latest cover of American Vogue, Justin Bieber’s dreadlocks – but the Queen demonstrates her status by staying exactly the same. Instead of relying on the attention-grabbing power of constant transformation, her image works a deeper magic. By never changing, she blurs the distinction between the flesh-and-blood woman, and the head on the postage stamp.

The Queen with her great-grandchildren

The top note of the Queen’s wardrobe on official business is cheerful simplicity. For the public walkabout on the day before her birthday, she wore a Schiaparelli-pink coat with matching hat; in the family portrait from which the new stamps will be taken (see above), she wears a sky-blue dress. Today she wore a thin lime green bouclé coat as she greeted well-wishers in Windsor. This is a message of continuity, a portrait of a once, now and future monarch, with not a carriage clock in sight. She wears the single blocks of bright colour that have become her office uniform. She is a instantly recognisable, a piece of pastel-toned lego diminutive but tangibly substantial.

Her sturdy, rainbow-toned coats and dresses belong to a disappearing world of solid objects – bars of soap, bunting, tupperware boxes of cornflakes. Around her, this 20th-century world is dissolving before our eyes into our ephemeral 21stcentury world of Nutribulletted breakfasts, filtered Instagrams and surreal faceswapping apps, but the Queen does not falter. Her eve-of-birthday concession to festivity – the flowers crowning her hat, possibly (though probably not) conceived as a timely nod to Coachella festival – was neatly offset by the ever-present black shoes and handbag.

Queen Elizabeth the day before her birthday

The informal Annie Leibovitz portraits show a subtly different side to the Queen. The cartoonish brights of her official wardrobe are replaced by a softer, more domestic look. There is a pale peach cardigan over a white shirt with a faint white stripe and a checked, pleated skirt for the portraits with her daughterand great grandchildren; a light blue jacket layered over a darker cardigan and another pleated skirt for the shot with her dogs. The military-parade level of polish of the on-duty Queen is notably gone.

The Queen with her corgis

In the outdoor photo, the cardigan is casually half-buttoned. That the colours are not modish or elegant – that cardigan is more magnolia than Farrow & Ball – gives the photos an unstyled believability; even the unphotogenic pavement-grey Berkshire sky of the corgi portrait is perfect, somehow, in its unfiltered Britishness.

For all her commitment of service to the nation, the Queen is absolutely not a people-pleaser: no holding her face in a perma-grin for Her Majesty. These images are very much of the Queen whom Leibovitz has said insists on doing her own makeup for portraits. Proof that one does not require airbrushing to build a formidable visual brand.

Balenciaga announces debut menswear show with Vetements creative director

For the first time in its 97 year history, iconic Parisian brand Balenciaga has announced its debut menswear runway show. It’s a continuation of the changes under the new creative director, Demna Gvasalia, who also heads up the much lauded Vetements collective.

While Balenciaga has previously showed menswear in a pared-down setting (“look books” rather than full-blown “shows”), this debut is a definitive statement from the label, known for its ultra-feminine style, about the economic importance of menswear, which is growing 1.5 times faster than womenswear.

The appointment of Gvasalia in October last year (following the departure of Alexander Wang), was seen as both controversial and very much part of the fashion zeitgeist: there was a stylistic clash (Vetements’ anarchic take on streetwear and Balenciaga’s urbane sophistication), but also the knowledge that the anti-fashion Vetements is the most exciting thing to happen to the industry in years.

Demna Gvasalia, artistic director of Balenciaga’s collections.

The first womens wear Balenciaga show under his leadership, in March, was both spectacular and jarring. It featured distorted silhouettes and exaggerated takes on everyday wear: anoraks sharply shawled, oversize shirts half tucked in, and platform boots with architecturally amplified soles.

Former creative director Alexander Wang, takes a bow at the SS 14 Balenciaga show.

And Gvasalia’s “Vetements-ification” of the menswear line is expected to be envelope pushing to the extreme. More extreme than former creative directorAlexander Wang, who took the label’s tailoring in an edgy direction. Balenciaga’s last menswear range (a presentation for Spring/Summer 2016) featured a quasi-military theme, full of muted earth tones and an industrial element. Gvasalia could bring his trademark sartorial hallmarks to the new line: enlarged hoodies and anoraks with elongated sleeves. In an official statement, the label promises that the show will “redefine the boundaries of contemporary fashion”.

From Uniqlo to Zayne and Gigi: what’s hot and what’s not this season

Going up

One Dance Oh, hi, Drake’s song of the summer. Plus points for covering Nico’s These Days.

Drake

Asket Oxford shirts and T-shirts Transparent pricing and longer-length fits. Why did this take so long?

Asket shirts

Hawaii Five-0 The lairy lad’s shirt is having a renaissance – see Gucci and Valentino.

Uniqlo The colourful brand has updated its MoMA collaboration. We love the Kaws pieces #ripeforarevival.

Uniqlo T-shirt

Palace’s cap keyring A tiny baseball cap. Too. Cute.

Tituss from Kimmy Schmidt Our favourite firecracker is back. We can’t wait for the Peeno Noir follow-up.

Tituss from Kimmy Schmidt

Black Converse, rolled-up jeans Totally 80s, and totally spring 16.

Bougainvillea pink and Yves Klein blue The colour combo for next season: seeKim Jones Instagramming Yves Saint Laurent’s Morocco garden for details.

Bougainvillea pink

Going down

Hedi Slimane leaving menswear If he does go to Chanel, it’s a blow for the skinny rock brigade.

Hedi Slimane

Zayn and Gigi Is it just us, or did their couples shoot for US Vogue look like a brochure for a really bad holiday resort? Kim and Kanye did it better.

Muscle vests Just not OK, whether you’re Brooklyn Beckham or Spencer Matthews.

Man in a vest

Menswear collections showing at womenswear Sadface! Gucci, Burberry, Tom Ford… all the glamour is going from men’s shows.

Justin Bieber’s hair Having an identity crisis as we speak.

Justin Bieber

Keanu Reeves on shadows From Speed to Sad Keanu to a book about the aesthetic and literary values of shadows. Cheer up, m8.

Pop men Avicii has retired. Bring on the sadlads Gabriel Bruce and Yung Lean, aka boys singing about heartbreak and home truths.

Avicii

Coolsplaining When someone tells us what’s cool. Or what’s not cool. Back off, pal.

French dressing: First Dates’ Fred on looks for love

The most charming Frenchman in London is sipping peppermint tea and dishing out heavily accented lessons in the art of love. “If you don’t have self-love, how are you going to love someone else? It’s about confidence and being happy. Then someone will want to be happy with you,” Fred Sirieixdeclares, sitting on a low armchair in the 1930s-style bar at Galvin at Windows on Park Lane in London, where he has been maître d’ for 10 years.

What makes this fine-dining expert such an authority on love? For three years, he has been the host of First Dates, Channel 4’s dating show, filmed in a restaurant in which every diner is on a blind date. It has become a primetime hit and the format has now sold to production companies abroad. But it is Sirieix who largely steals the show, by twinkling his clear blue eyes straight down the lens and doling out aphorisms: “No man is an island”, “Everybody needs someone to cuddle with”. Today, he does not disappoint, quoting Sartre, Shakespeare and Philip Larkin, while explaining how the art of service and the art of love are inextricable.

Fred Sirieix standing in the window of his restaurant wearing a suit

Sirieix has lived in England for nearly 25 years, since arriving aged 20 to work his way up in the restaurant business. He did “almost every job in the industry” at La Tante Claire, Le Gavroche and other top restaurants before landing at the Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows on the 28th floor of the Hilton Park Lane. He is passionate about the way the restaurant industry is seen, heading a consultancy business, creating a National Waiters Day that includes a waiters’ race through London (contestants run while holding a tray with a full bottle and glass of water, based on an old French tradition called “la course des garçons de café”). In 2011, he mentored young trainees as part of a BBC programme, Michel Roux’s Service(think Jamie’s Kitchen, but for waiters and sommeliers). “There’s an issue in Britain with the image of the industry,” Sirieix says. “It’s not something careers advisers in school recommend that people do. I would like that to change. It’s a fantastic job. Yes, we deal with more people than most, but what is better than connecting with other people?”

This is an obsession of Sirieix’s, and clearly one of his greatest strengths, not only at work and in the First Dates restaurant, where he makes nervous daters feel at ease, but in the London boxing ring where he trains daily and spars at the weekend. “As in service, and in love, and in the ring, you’ve got to connect. If you really want to connect, you will. Like Sartre said: you must act your passion before you can feel it.”

When a (genius) TV producer approached him to join the First Dates restaurant in its third series, he was anxious. “I wasn’t sure at first. I wanted to know that it was a good show at heart. What I like is that we match people to find love, we don’t set them up to fail. I like to get involved when I can, looking at the details of applicants, putting them up on the wall, trying to find their match. I have had years of experience meeting people and quickly getting an understanding of who they are and what they need. It’s what I do all day.”

Fred Sirieix leaping up in the park

Sirieix clearly cares about the daters, reeling off favourite matches. “Victoria and Scott were really good” (the couple returned to the show on Valentine’s Day this year, and Scott proposed in the restaurant). “Jo and Naomi were both such good, beautiful and funny girls. I knew it would work, for sure. And Adam and Dan: there was just something about them.”

The secret to being a good date is similar to being a good waiter, he says. “See, smile and say hello to them before they see, smile and say hello to you. Look after the basics. Then they know you can give them what they want the first time round.”

The question, this self-styled guru says, is, “Do you want to connect in the first place? Some people think they do, but they don’t. Some people do, but they are too scared, they are traumatised by love. I’ve been very lucky all my life, to be born into a loving family who always made me feel like I was loved unconditionally. Some people don’t have that.”

Watching the show, you get the impression that some daters would rather be sitting opposite Sirieix than the person they’ve been matched with. Alas, he’s taken, and lives with his partner and two children in London.

That doesn’t stop him sharing his expertise. Rule number one? “Focus on your conversation and give your date undivided attention.” And what to wear? “Always dress the part,” he says. “I have made some mistakes in the past. I still got my way, but I wouldn’t do it again.” He laughs, finishes his tea, gives me a kiss on each cheek and takes up his position at the front of the restaurant, ready for the lunchtime rush.

Fred’s top dating tips

Fred Sirieix sitting in his restaurant

Can I take you to dinner?
“Smile at your date and give them all of your attention. You must stay focused on what you want. It’s like steering a boat: you have to know where you are going. And be open: if you hold back, not only will you not reach out to someone, you won’t be reached.”

Fancy a walk in the park?
“You might take a bag with a blanket, so you can sit down if it’s sunny. Why not take a bottle of champagne with a couple of glasses? That sounds rather nice.”

Let’s go for a coffee
“This is a great suggestion for a date, because it implies just five minutes. But towards the end, you have to decide whether you’re out or in. Either suggest another coffee, or pastry, or make your excuses.”

The Duchess of Cambridge wears L.K. Bennett for dinner with the Obamas

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridgea

This evening the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have welcomed the Obamas for dinner at their private apartment, 1A, at Kensington Palace. While Prince Harry championed ‘casual Friday’ in jeans instead of a suit, the Duchess of Cambridge opted for a smart printed midi dress by one of her favourite high street labels, L.K. Bennett.

Less than a week after returning from her six-day royal tour of India and Bhutan, the Duchess is wearing L.K. Bennett’s ‘Addison’ dress, which has delicate sheer sleeves and a jewel-coloured flecked-print, and is currently in stock for £325.

Prince Harry, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge outside of Kensington Palace

The Duchess’ impact on retail is so significant that there is a designated ‘Kate Middleton effect’ Wikipedia page, and one of her biggest success stories when it comes to shifting stock is L.K. Bennett. Thanks to her support of their dresses, coats and her beloved nude court shoes on the global stage, the British brand has hugely benefited from her habit of making things sell out within hours and opened stores in the United States in 2012.

Meanwhile Michelle Obama is doing Kim Kardashian’s favourite styling trick and wearing head-to-toe camel, in a co-ordinated coat, jumper and lace skirt. Earlier today the First Lady wore a vibrant fuschia lace dress by American label Oscar de la Renta for lunch at Windsor Castle to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

The Duchess of Cambridge with Michelle Obama inside Apartment 1A of Kensington Palacea

Shortly before his death in October 2014, legendary American designer Oscar de la Renta appointed Peter Copping, an English designer, as his successor. It’s a fitting, and likely intentional, decision for Michelle Obama to wear a look designed by a Brit at the head of an American mega brand. A number of users on Twitter also hoped that wearing head to toe purple was her way of paying tribute to the late Prince, The Purple One.

In Oscar de la Renta, Michelle Obama blends the best of American and British fashion for the Queen’s birthday lunch

michelle obama

For lunch at Windsor Castle to celebrate the Queen’s 90thbirthday today, Michelle Obama once again embraced her love of bold, vibrant colours, choosing a fuschia lace dress with a floral navy lace and beading  from American design house, Oscar de la Renta. The mid-length style had a befittingly joyful feel for the occasion but also holds a deeper meaning.

The Anglo-American special relationship might be a key talking point in politics right now, as President Obama made his case for the Remain camp in the Brexit campaign, but the bond extends to fashion too. Shortly before his death in October 2014, legendary American designer Oscar de la Renta appointed Peter Copping, an Englishman who was previously creative director at Nina Ricci in Paris, as his successor. The dress worn by Michelle Obama today will therefore have been designed by a Brit helming an American mega brand. It’s a clever tie-up.

michelle obama prince phillip queen barack

This is not the first time that Obama has chosen Oscar de la Renta, a label renowned for its romantic, beautifully crafted designs. In October 2014, she wore a black, gold and blue cocktail dress in the same fit and flare silhouette as today’s choice to a Fashion Education Workshop.

However, given that de la Renta was at the time one of the most celebrated American designers, the ‘first wearing’ came rather late in her time as First Lady, almost seven years after first entering the White House.

It was widely speculated that her decision to distance herself from de la Renta’s designs was precisely because he was already so synonymous with first lady fashion, having dressed them all- from Jacqueline Kennedy to Laura Bush. Instead, Obama had been promoting younger designers such as Jason Wu, who created her gowns for both of her husband’s  Inauguration Balls.

This seemed to create tension with de la Renta. When Obama wore an Alexander McQueen (i,e British, not American) dress at a Chinese state dinner, he  told an audience in New York, ‘She’s a very good-looking lady and it’s her own right to wear what she wants to wear.

But I was upset when the Chinese Prime Minister came to visit and she wore a foreign designer. ‘What a lost opportunity to showcase our industry. I’m sure she didn’t do it on purpose, but she was not well-advised.’

saks michelle obama dress

Today’s choice offers a fresh chapter in the Obama/ de la Renta story. Oxford-born Copping is widely admired in the fashion industry for his exquisite  creations which marry fairytale opulence with a fresh, modern mindset. He said it was “a  shared a belief in fashion romance” which  brought him and de la Renta together. Copping was anointed as the Dominican Republic-born designer’s successor just days before his death from cancer at the age of 82.

While de la Renta rose to fame for dressing the glamorous ‘ladies who lunch’ set, Copping has developed the label to give that same unashamed  femininity to a new kind of woman. “Our younger customers aren’t flying to Paris with their mothers to get fitted for couture. Some of them are coming to Oscar after building their own successful businesses.

They want to look beautiful and glamorous, and they want details that thrill them, but overall, the fantasy has changed,” said Copping. What these women want is outfits for business dinners, fundraisers… and lunch with the Queen.

The secret Daenerys wears under every dress: secrets from the Game Of Thrones costume director

Daenerys

For a TV show centred around dragons, sword fights and the political machinations of the medieval Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, it’s perhaps surprising that anyone cares about the clothes on Game of Thrones. But such is the cult status of the series -which returns to Sky Atlantic tomorrow – that even the costumes have become fetishised.

Designer Manish Arora sent warrior princesses walking down the catwalk as the Game of Thrones theme tune played last year and Madonna once called the show’s producers to ask to borrow Daenerys’s dress for a fancy dress party. “We couldn’t believe it was really her at first and as we weren’t filming, someone had to scuttle around and find the dress,” Game of Thrones costume director Michele Clapton tellsThe Telegraph of their star enquiry. “When she sent it back, she included a sweet note saying, ‘My son worships this dress more than I’ve ever known anyone worship something before’.”

The secret item Daenerys always wears

Clapton – who has designed costumes for the last five series of Game of Thrones – believes that the costumes have such resonance because they are so much part of the plot. “I love the fact that you can have a sub story going on because the costume is telling you so much that words aren’t saying at that moment,” she says, citing the fact that Daenerys always wears hidden trousers and boots under her dresses. “There’s always a fear in her that she will have to leave so it gives her the freedom to always escape and run. If she had silly shoes on she’d lose all her strength.”

Given there’s barely an episode of Game of Thrones that doesn’t involve liberal amounts of blood, mud and/or snow, (sometimes, let’s be honest all three at once), there are presumably some challenges to keeping costumes pristine? Clapton says that whilst they do try to use blood they can wash out, due to some of the delicate fabrics for a fight scene there will be at least three different versions of the outfit. What are more problematic are the scenes where clothes are violently ripped off – most controversially seen last season when Sansa was raped by her new husband Ramsey on her wedding night. “If they rip costumes off people we’ll have two of those and as one has been ripped we’ll be stitching it back up while the other one is being used and then it goes back and forth and we swap them in and out,” she says. “Poor Sansa gets her stuff ripped off all the time.”

The most controversial costumes

Sansa GOT

The explosive reaction to Sansa’s brutal rape was proof of just how divisive Game of Thrones has become. A US senator made headlines when she came out to condemn the graphic scene, which didn’t appear in George RR Martin’s novels on which the TV series is based. Clapton, too, has felt the force of die-hard GOT fans – 8.1 million of whom now watch every episode. “The Unsullied costumes were the hardest to make. They were very specific in the book about having a spike on top of the helmet but it looked too German First World War so we had to change it,” she remembers. “With a book people have built up an image of how they think characters should look and then I come along and don’t make it like it is in their heads.”

 

Criticism of her costumes has come from other, more unexpected quarters, too. Anti fur organisation PETA got in touch when the series first launched to object over her use of fur – a sentiment some of the cast agreed with. “Certain actors won’t wear it and we’ll respect that and we’ll always try to make it in fake fur instead but when you’re depicting the things that we are a lot of the time it doesn’t work,” she says. As a result Clapton hunts out vintage fur from French markets (she insists that they would never commission new fur) to complement the fabrics she sources from Florence or gets woven in Ireland.

fur

What happens to a costume when a character dies?

Initially, Clapton and her team had no concept of how much attention the series would generate so costumes were ripped up and their fabrics reused. “We had to go back and un-dye them so they were restored to how they used to be,” explains Clapton. Today, everything is painstakingly logged and archived – but allowances are made for the characters who are killed off. (Currently 61, for anyone keeping count.) “When people die we sometimes give them little tokens from their costumes. At the end Drogo took his spare pair of leather trousers with him.” (And, before you ask, no – she wouldn’t be drawn on whether Jon Snow’s costume remained in tact.)

The cult surrounding the clothes is so strong that a number go on exhibition each year when filming ends and in July Clapton is launching a jewellery collection with London label Yunis and Eliza  inspired by the pieces worn by Daenerys on screen. “People think the show is about sex but it’s not; it’s about strong individuals and women like Daenerys in particular,” Clapton concludes. “That’s why this show is so brilliant – rarely do you get the chance to see those women represented on screen; let alone the chance to dress them.” Something tells us Madonna will be first in line for a Mother of Dragons necklace.

Knuckledusting and brooch clustering: The new ways to wear jewellery

Emma Stone wears mismatched earrings. 

 If you don’t really do “occasion-wear” then the season of weddings, al fresco parties and endless sundry sporting events that suddenly require inordinately snazzy frocks can be taxing. I speak from (formerly puzzled) experience.

The sort of clothes the Middletons were born to wear look all wrong on me. It’s not that I can’t objectively appreciate  dressy-dresses – tea-dresses, ruffled dresses, fitted sleeveless dresses, coats -and –toning-dresses – just that I don’t enjoy wearing them. They all feel too prissy, too mutton or too ageing. So I’m officially abandoning them to their fate (they’ll be fine). From now on I’m relying on the kind of pieces I know suit me – trousers, shirts, tailored jackets, pencil skirts,  the occasionally shirt dress – which I know I can endlessly reinvent with jewellery.

Sandra Bullock wears a jewelled hair clip. 

After all, when Alessandra Rich can sell an embellished denim ball dress for £1450 and J Crew can make sequined trimmed skirts for the office, it’s fair to say that dress codes are more fluid than they’ve ever been. A silk T shirt and trouser suit with a diamond necklace or a fabulous pair of drop earrings looks far more stylish than a fussy dress that isn’t you.

But first, some admin. Although jewellery trends date far more slowly than clothes or shoes (and vintage jewellery never goes out of fashion, whatever the era which makes the cost-per-wear value exceedingly virtuous) your jewellery wardrobe still requires pruning and updating.

It’s time to retire those Marni-esque floral statement necklaces

Naomie Harris wears a fine gold body chain. 

Necklaces now are either very fine gold and rose gold chains, precious looking ropes of stones (see Saoirse Ronan below at the Baftas this year so impressively carrying off her Chopard gems as an extension of her Burberry frock, that Chopard subsequently signed a contract with her) or geometric brass sculptures. Note how the right necklace can ring the changes on a strapless dress or top. Invest in good necklaces – and plain necklines – as do Dolce and Gabbana’s Alta Moda clients.

Saoirse Ronan in her Chopard necklace.

Bracelets

Cuffs will always have a place, for now,  the delicate gold wrist chain is now hugely current. Wear in multiples (think of them as an upgrade on friendship bracelets). But don’t forget the power of a single, twinkly chain. Elegance, as Coco Chanel, one of the all time crusaders of modern jewellery wearing said, is refusal.

Earrings? Chandeliers are back

Further proof that good quality jewels don’t go out of fashion, they merely require occasional sabbaticals. Mismatched constellations also still look contemporary.  Next week Dinny Hall launches a Singles Bar in all of her five stores (prices from £50-495, dinnyhall.com) where customers can buy them singly. When it comes to multiple earrings, things generally work out better if you stick to a theme: different coloured pearls, variously shaped diamond specks , or a crocodile of insects…

Brooches?

Dolce & Gabanna AW16. 

 

  • If you’re wearing a dress with a plunging back, try wearing your necklaces back to front. Lariats look particularly elegant dangling between shoulder blades.
18ct Gold vermeil Saphira simple necklace with freshwater pearl, £95 (susancaplan.co.uk) 
  • Herd mentality: If a single brooch isn’t doing the trick, try a cluster. Work on groupings that go together: flowers, animals, star-bursts. Don’t stop with lapels. Brooches work wonderfully placed on the waist, hips, an evening bag, a velvet choker at your throat or wrist or attached to a grip in your hair.
Rosantica gold tone quartz hair slide, £40, Net-a-Porter
  • Layering: Long chains look lovely with shorter jewellery necklaces and collars but remember you’re not a Christmas tree. A single piece, even a small, discreet one, can sometimes outclass a galaxy of jewellery. Let your mood and outfit dictate and never allow your neckline fight or sleeves to fight with your jewellery.
  • Nurture your inner Kandinsky: Update the classic bracelet cuff with a set of mix and match geometric Hermes lacquered wood bangles.
Hermes cuff
  • To hell with rules: Rubies and emeralds with jeans? Far chicer than saving them for best and more stylish than wearing actual jewelled jeans.
  • Knuckledusting: If you’ve been there and done that with stacking rings, try the lateral approach. A chunky ring on every finger, a la Victoire de Castellane, Alessandro Michele or Maria Grazia Chiuri can look exceptionally dramatic, especially if the rings tend to the dark side: momento mori, skulls, daggers are all conversation pieces. Alternatively a lattice-work of skinny and midi-rings can look entrancing.
Alexander McQueen silver and gold-tone crystal ring, £345, Net-a-Porter
  • Charm offensive: Charm necklaces, featuring precious and semi-precious charms that have memories attached are as lovely as charm bracelets and sometimes easier to wear.

How to buy Prince George’s bathrobe he wore to meet Obama

Prince George meets President Obama

Prince George has always been something of a fashion icon, much like his mother.

When the Duchess of Cambridge wears a stunning outfit, it will often sell out online instantly. Now, her son is having that effect too – just call it ‘the George Effect’.

The £27 robe that Prince George was wearing when he met President Obama sold out within minutes. But the embroidered dressing gown, by British retailer My1stYears.com can still be ordered online.

Prince George received the embroidered robe as a gift when his sister Princess Charlotte was born last May.

Prince George plays while wearing his stylish dressing gown

The co-founder of My First Years, Daniel, Price said: “It’s extremely rewarding for us as we started this business in 2010 when we were straight out of university, so to see Prince George wearing one of our products really is a dream come true.

“It just goes to show that it doesn’t have to cost the earth to dress like a Royal. Our products are very affordable so everyone can dress their little one like a Prince or Princess.”

The online retailer was founded by friends Price and Jonny Sitton in 2010 to tap into the burgeoning UK infant market.

The duo have come a long way from selling jewellery and clothing to fellow students at Leeds Metropolitan University and now list Sir Elton John, Peter Andre and Mo Farrah among their celebrity shoppers.

“We started with our savings, family money and some seed funding,” says Price. They now have a concession in Selfridges, a warehouse in Northampton, and have started to take orders from the US and Australia.

The founders of My First Years

“In terms of marketing, our celebrity outreach programme is really important,” says Price. “We sent blankets from our cashmere range and hi-tech trainers to Prince George, and received a thank you letter.”

Price and Sitton, endured sleepless nights in the early days, having decided to focus on personalised, embroidered baby shoes as their core product.

“We went to see copious factories in Nottingham [which had an embroidery scene after the death of its lace industry] but were laughed at and told to give up on getting work done in time for next day delivery,” says Price.

But an opportunistic employee, who was made redundant from one of the factories, contacted them after another disappointing visit, and helped them to re-engineer an old machine.

“It was tough at the start. We hit a few brick walls. It was hard finding someone to embroider on items so small, and when we did, we had to invest in the technology to make it happen,” says Sitton.

The 5 best things to buy this weekend

Addison contrast panel trousers, £55 and chesterton clean structured knit, £45, Finery

An accessory that’s both decorative and useful

The arguments for brooches are compelling. They aren’t just decorative, they’re useful/essential. In the debit column: it’s easy to end up with something that looks cluttered or mumsy. A bold art deco style crystal brooch never fails however, and is the perfect embellishment for a LBD that might otherwise look predictable, or a scarf that won’t stay in place. LA

1960s crystal brooch, £85, Susan Caplan

Chic shoes for the commute

New job, new commute, new shoes—and this time, I’m not letting stiletto-shod power-striding hobble me before I’ve even reached my desk. Instead, the order of the day is flats, but that doesn’t mean my footwear has to be boring. Check out these embroidered Boden flats in a versatile colourway. Here’s hoping they won’t give me blisters, of course. (See also: French Sole’s Hefner slipper in jaguar print.)EC

Peacock shoe, £71.60, Boden

The edgy and girly dress

I’ve always liked the idea of dresses, but as I’ve never been a ditsy floral-wearing pink fan, I usually stick to jeans and trousers. My dream spring dress would be black, grey or navy in a loose or tailored shape, and is sadly quite hard to come by.

That was until I found & Other Stories’ fabulous printed shift dress. The edgy dark colour is transformed into spring-y territory by the bright, unique floral print. I’ll be toughening it up some more with a pair of Converse, sparkly socks and a denim jacket. KT

Herabrium print dress, £45, & Other Stories

A perfect pick-me up for monochrome wares

My wardrobe consists of black, white and navy; lightened only by blue denim. So imagine my surprise as I fell head over heels (literally) for this season’s bright hued block heeled mules. This pair from Mango cost a fraction of the price of the designer alternatives and are a perfect pick me up for monochrome wares. I will be pairing mine with Levi’s 501’s, a white shirt and a classic black blazer (and thin knit ankle socks if the British weather lets me down). CB

Leather sandals, £39.99, Mango 

Work-to-weekend trousers

I’ve been looking for trousers like these for a while now, and while there are plenty around, they’ve all been a bit pricey. These magenta tuxedo trousers are ideal for work and the weekend – and isn’t that the dream scenario?

I’m imagining mine with a backless shoe, loose-fitting tee and leather jacket for a look that’s laid back but not boring. OBS

Addison contrast panel trousers, £55, Finery