Kate Middleton’s Style Icon Status Questioned After Duchess Receives Vanity Fair Honor

Kate Middleton Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, smiles at the National Orchid Garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens in 2012.  Reuters

Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, joined the ranks of fashion icons Coco Chanel, Carolina Herrera and Anna Wintour last week as Vanity Fair inducted the royal into its 2014 International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame. Despite Middleton’s famously coveted and consciously modest ensembles, many of which sell out within minutes following her approval, one fashion reporter/stylist is now questioning the magazine for including Prince William’s wife on their high-profile list.

“Is it appropriate that she be rubbing shoulder pads with the likes of Anna Piaggi, Karl Lagerfeld and Catherine Deneuve? Do cap-sleeved shift dresses, nude hose and cork wedges a fashion icon make? Not in my style bible,” sniffed the Sydney Morning Herald’s Elizabeth Clarke.

In the piece, “Why Kate Middleton Is Not a Style Icon,” Clarke goes on to argue that Middleton, 32, a former commoner, never intended to become a fashion powerhouse. “A style icon is born, not made. … She has popped on a pedestal and expected to be one,” said Clarke. “Kate is not and never has been a fashion girl.”

Despite Middleton’s aptitude for landing on best-dressed lists, Clarke, who labels Middleton’s style as sensible and practical, says her fashion choices will forever be overshadowed by her husband's late mother. “She will forever share her walk-in wardrobe with a ghost: Princess Diana,” said Clarke. “Diana lived on the fashion edge. … She was fashionally [sic] formidable, and it seems the public expect the same from Kate.”

Clarke concluded her broadside against Vanity Fair saying the public should continue to admire Middleton for being “a fabulous royal with awesome hair,” but not a fashion icon. “In her place, let’s induct an equally splendid individual but one that stuns us with their sartorial brilliance, fearful self-expression and impeccable taste in shoes,” she said.

On Aug. 6 Vanity Fair announced that the “incomparable” Kate Middleton would be added to its 74-year-old Hall of Fame for being “polished, eclectic, and stylish.” The same honor was also bestowed to Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, and Alice + Olivia CEO/creative director Stacey Bendet.

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