Wednesday, 21 August 2019

The Duchess Makes a Surprise Smart Works Visit!

The Duchess of Sussex paid a very special visit to her patronage Smart Works today for the promotional shoot for a capsule collection set to launch next month in collaboration with several British brands in support of the organisation. Sussex Royal shared a behind-the-scenes look at the events of the day :)


Following summer break, which saw the Sussexes enjoy several days in Ibiza and Nice where they stayed at the villa of Elton John with Archie, it was very much back to business for the Duchess today. Although on maternity leave, Meghan spent a good deal of the summer focused on guest-editing the September edition of Vogue and preparing for the launch of a collection of work wear pieces for her patronage.


Indeed, it was in the pages of the September issue we first learned of plans for this new project. Meghan wrote she was drawn to Smart Works because it "reframes the idea of charity as community" which she described as "incredibly important" to her. "It's the enthusiasm of the volunteers, the earnestness of the staff" and "the blushing, bashful and beautiful smile that crosses a client's face when she sees herself in the mirror" that Meghan found so profoundly compelling. Throughout her many visits to the charity, Meghan noticed the mismatched sizes and colours. To help with this, she formulated a plan: "I asked Marks & Spencer, John Lewis & Partners, Jigsaw and my friend Misha Nonoo to design a capsule collection for a work wear wardrobe." During the inception of the project, the companies involved agreed to adopt the "one-for-one model" whereby each time a piece is purchased, one is donated to charity. Meghan added: "Not only does this allow us to be part of each other's story, it reminds us we are in it together."


The sneak-peek features fabulous footage of what undoubtedly looked like a fantastic day filled with hugs, smiles and plenty of laughs. I absolutely love the fact the promotional video was filmed at Smart Works; I expect several clients will feature in the video, modelling the collection of work wear.


Sussex Royal stated it's "an initiative supporting the Smart Works collective which will equip women entering the workforce with the key work wear essentials they need".


More from Harper's Bazaar:

'"Meghan surprised everyone at Smart Works when she showed up for the shoot," which took place today in London, a source tells BAZAAR.com.'

Last month, Smart Works CEO Kate Stephens said: "I had to regram these images from Sussex Royal because they capture so beautifully how the Duchess interacts with everyone she meets at Smart Works - images full of kindness, inspiration, empathy, energy, ideas and joy. It is no coincidence that we are helping more women than ever before and today is the last day of our busiest ever month. That is how we judge our success and I am so proud of everyone for making this happen."


Many of you will recognise the song in the video - it's Bill Withers' classic 'Lovely Day'.


UPDATE: With thanks to Caroline Parr, Meghan's Fashion and What Meghan Wore, it turns out Meghan's shirt is by British brand With Nothing Underneath. The Duchess wore the £85 classic sky blue and white stripe shirt.


More on the brand:

'Launched in 2017, With Nothing Underneath was founded by Pip Durell, a former British Vogue stylist and Tatler Editor. 
WNU was created to make the perfect everyday boyfriend shirt. Designed in London, inspired by men's tailoring adjusted for women; WNU offers an affordable boyfriend shirt - a casual luxury with scrupulous detail using the highest quality materials. 
Made with 100% poplin cotton, the focus was to make a sustainable wardrobe essential that will stand the test of time - moving away from throw away fashion, withstanding trends and generations. 
Inspired by icons like Carolyn Bessette and Charlotte Rampling; With Nothing Underneath is a shirt to live in, work in, dine in, sleep in, with or without thought, or anything underneath.'

The Duchess accessorised with her WWAKE Three Stone Opal Cuff which she debuted during the tour last year.

It appears Meghan wore her Stuart Weitzman Legend pumps.

As we saw with the Hubb Community Kitchen Together cookbook and her involvement with British Vogue, Meghan is there every step of the way when she's committed to a project. This is another excellent idea by the Duchess and one of many efforts we'll see on behalf of her patronages. I'm incredibly excited to see the launch of the collection next month. Judging from the video shared, Meghan and the ladies from Smart Works are too :)

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

The Sussexes' First Family Holiday & Latest News Updates!

Good evening!

The royals have dispersed from London for summer break, enjoying holidays abroad and time relaxing in Scotland. According to several local reports from Spanish media, Harry and Meghan took Archie to Ibiza for his first overseas trip from the 6th to the 11th of August. Spanish newspaper El PaĆ­s reported the family stayed in a private villa before travelling by private jet back to the UK. The trip, which began just two days after Meghan's 38th birthday, was likely planned to celebrate the occasion and was a nice opportunity to enjoy their first family holiday before their first tour as a family next month.


The Sussexes reportedly enjoyed gorgeous weather on the Spanish island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain. There were no social media sightings or images taken of the trio from what I've heard, so I expect they enjoyed quiet evenings in, good food and wine (Meghan's favourite Tignanello), walks on the beach, and plenty of playtime with Archie whilst soaking up the stunning scenery...


A view of the old town from the port.


Meghan previously visited Ibiza four years ago with close friends Misha Nonoo, Benita Litt and Heather Dorak.


Meghan shared this post on Instagram with the caption, "We love you Ibiza".



The trip came during several weeks of travelling Meghan did in August 2016, just weeks after she and Harry starting dating. In a piece for the Tig, Meghan reflected on her travels and having the luxury of time to celebrate:

'Inspired by one of my favorite books by Elizabeth Gilbert, I decided to spend the month of August (with my hiatus from filming) to “Eat, Pray, Love.” Or, in my humble interpretation: eat everything, pray (and meditate) often, and simply love my life, every ounce of it.
With the support of some trusted friends who met me along the way for my various adventures, what I discovered was that with the incredible luxury of time, I was able to celebrate my life. And I say that because I don’t think you need money to do this. It wasn’t long ago (cough – about ten years ago – cough) that I only had $40 in my bank account, that I could barely book an audition, and that my circle of friends was even smaller. But even then, without all the pomp and circumstance, I made time to celebrate my life. Maybe it was a pizza and bottle of two buck chuck from Trader Joe’s with a couple girlfriends, tucked in for the night sitting on my living room floor. Or maybe it was a dance party in my tiny apartment or a sobbing session to purge all of those feels with my nearest and dearest.
This is all part of the eat, pray, love journey. Being present. Being vulnerable. The act of celebrating and really truly enjoying your life. And while the locales of my recent getaway were more extravagant than ever before, I feel certain that the same moments of “ah-hah,” the same self-hugs and acts of appreciation, could have been done in the cozy quiet of my home. And that, right there, is the point. To find your own eat, pray, love this week. To snuggle up and relish what you’ve got.'

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Meanwhile, there have been several updates on the couple's Sussex Royal Instagram account. They shared an iconic quote: "Words have the power to inspire, which is why we’re happy to share some of our favourite quotes. From members of the public to public figures, from teachers and students to young leaders, we begin with a quote from Diana, Princess of Wales."


In addition to celebrating World Lion Day, they marked International Youth Day by highlighting inspirational young leaders. "As President and Vice-President of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust (QCT) – an initiative that champions, funds and connects Commonwealth youth leaders working to change the world - the Duke and Duchess hope to shine a light on a few of these change making young leaders of the QCT, who are doing amazing things - not because they have to, but because they want to - a choice we all have in life."


To celebrate World Elephant Day, the couple shared excellent news: "We are pleased to announce that since we followed our friends at Elephants Without Borders (EWB) on Instagram in July, when we were celebrating the environment, you and our friend Ellen (Ellen DeGeneres' Foundation) have spread the word and EWB have been able to help protect 25 elephants by fitting them with satellite navigation collars! These collars allow the team at EWB to track the elephants, as well as to learn their essential migratory patterns to keep their corridors safe and open so future generations of elephants can roam freely. In honour of this amazing support, EWB have named their most recently collared Elephant...ELLEN! We can’t wait to see where she will go! Two years ago on World Elephant Day, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined Dr Chase to help in this conservation effort." Unseen photos from Harry and Meghan's 2017 trip were included in the post.


In the above photo, Meghan is wearing her Catbird rings, Kismet Hamsa ring and, as correctly noted by Susan at What Meghan Wore, an "Elephant Hair" silver wire bracelet. Susan shared fascinating background information from Matt Buvkinghausen jewellery:

'The Elephant Hair Bracelet is perhaps one of the most recognized pieces of symbolic jewelry of its kind.
Tribal Legend over 2000 years old states that the soul of the elephant passes through the tail when he dies. The sacred strands of hair from his tail are then woven and knotted in a symbolic manner to form a bracelet which evokes the power to protect its wearer with the elephants strength, wisdom, and spirit.
Worn on the left wrist brings luck in the hunt or quest.  Worn on the right wrist brings success in exploits of love. The four knots represent earth, sun, moon, and stars. Opening and closing the bracelet each time its worn passes the knots over the strands which symbolize the changing seasons creating harmony and balance between earth and it's people.
With the decline in the population of the African Elephant, we have chosen not to add to the shortage by using elephant hair, but rather offer a more attractive and longer lasting piece of jewelry, still representative of the old Africa.'

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In a fashion update, the talented Elizabeth from Meghan's Fashion notes the £55 Marks & Spencer Off The Shoulder bodycon midi dress Meghan wore for the Festival of Remembrance is back in stock in black.


It now comes in a new camel colour which would be a fabulous choice for Meghan for daytime engagements. Marks & Spencer is one of several British retailers Meghan is teaming up with for Smart Works.


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I expect a trip to Balmoral to spend time with Her Majesty, Prince Philip and other members of the Royal family is next on the agenda. With Harry confirmed to attend the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final in his role as patron on Saturday, 24th, the coming weekend seems likely for a few days in the Highlands. If they are there on Sunday, we should see photos of them arriving at church.

A number of you have been in touch regarding the itinerary for the couple's tour next month. It's understood it will kick off in mid September, meaning we should see the full itinerary in a fortnight or so; of course, it's possible we'll get information on the dates sooner. Royal reporter Omid Scobie says the tour will last around eleven days and we'll see Meghan take on her own solo engagements in South Africa, most likely while Harry visits Malawi, Botswana and Angola. The schedule is said to cover a number of areas including education, young people, conservation and women's empowerment. Before that, Harry and Meghan's royal foundation is expected to be launched with an environmental and community-based project led by Harry. Meghan's clothing collection in support of patronage Smart Works is also expected to launch next month. 

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Happy Birthday Meghan & Vogue Titbits You Might Have Missed

Hello, hello, I hope you're all having a fabulous weekend.

The Duchess of Sussex is celebrating her 38th birthday today, no doubt with Harry and Archie. It's been a landmark year for Meghan, filled with changes professional and personal. She dived into her royal role, launched her first project, undertook a major tour of four Commonwealth countries, chose her first four patronages, became vice president of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust and became the first person to guest-edit the September issue of Vogue in a century. When Meghan said she wanted to hit the ground running, she certainly meant it. In May, the Duchess gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Archie (formerly known as Baby Sussex). The family of three moved into their residence Frogmore Cottage and will launch their own royal foundation in the autumn, Meghan's clothing line project on behalf of Smart Works is set to be unveiled next month, in addition to a tour of Africa. Yes, the remainder of the year is set to be incredibly exciting. It is not known exactly how she's spending the day, perhaps, she, Harry and Archie are enjoying their first holiday together?


Prince Harry left a very special message for his wife on the couple's Sussex Royal Instagram.


A gorgeous shot of Harry and Megan from their evening of baseball was shared by Buckingham Palace.

Birthday wishes from Charles and Camilla...

...and a Christmas photo from William and Kate.

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Have you picked up a copy of Vogue yet? I wanted to share several titbits I found particularly interesting. We know environmental efforts will form a key focus for Harry and Meghan's foundation. They will both have been delighted to learn the September issue marked a change for the magazine, becoming the first print issue wrapped in a fully compostable film derive from potato starch and plastic free. The publication has pledged to "reduce avoidable, harmful waste".


We spoke about the inclusion of Luminary Bakery in the issue earlier this week. The non-profit bakery is empowering women into employment by providing skills, work experience and support every step of the way. I was delighted to see founder Alice Williams on ITV talking about their collective efforts to empower women. The lesser-known faces in the issue now need to consider the ripple effect this exposure can have. Meghan (in her beautiful handwriting) wrote to the women of Luminary: "The work you do, what you represent to the community, the spirit of the women there - you all embody what it means to be 'forces for change'."


Meghan included one of her favourite pieces by writer and mental-health advocate Matt Haig.


His response to Meghan's letter was so touching. The Duchess replied: "The world needs more of you."


There's a lovely piece featuring eight designers discussing jewellery laden with family significance. I very much enjoyed Clare Waight Keller's quote:

'Since I was very young, my mother has always insisted on teaching us some of the things she had been taught by her own mother, such as sewing, knitting and how to prepare for things that might seem like simple everyday tasks but to which she has found the perfect solution - for example, organising a suitcase or preparing for school. She also taught me to treasure the things that you are given, or that you buy, and to think carefully about how you look after them. This is something I still do whenever I receive something. 
When I was about seven, my parents gave me a silver charm bracelet with a heart-shaped lock as a birthday gift. Whenever I travelled, I collected charms to attach to it. I don't wear it anymore but it has great sentimental value and probably contributed to my "collector's" approach to jewellery".'

Smart Works' Kate Stephens is enormously excited about the upcoming clothing capsule collection which will benefit the growing charity. She said: "I had to regram these images from Sussex Royal because they capture so beautifully how the Duchess interacts with everyone she meets at Smart Works - images full of kindness, inspiration, empathy, energy, ideas and joy. It is no coincidence that we are helping more women than ever before and today is the last day of our busiest ever month. That is how we judge our success and I am so proud of everyone for making this happen."


Each month, Sussex Royal focus on a particular area and highlights accounts dedicated to it. This month, it's fittingly all about 'Forces for Change' and they are asking you to share yours on Instagram.


 I shared a quote last night, which I think perfectly encapsulates Meghan's approach to her role.

"Who you are as a person will only be amplified once you are ‘famous’ so if you had a good heart then, I would imagine you'll have the same good heart, but the means to do even more with it" - Meghan.

Wishing the Duchess the happiest of birthdays. I cannot wait to see what she has in store over the next year!