Writing about royal style is my job, yet I rarely actually want to wear something that a Princess or Duchess has been seen in. But Charlotte Casiraghi’s Saint Laurent civil wedding ceremony dress from 2019 - a mini lace shift adorned with bows - is an exception; it’s the first picture which I show anyone who enquires what my (delayed due to Covid) bridal look might be.
Charlotte, the granddaughter of the late Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco and daughter of their eldest child, Princess Caroline, is the perfect kind of modern royal style icon.
She’s far enough removed from the vigours of royal duties to have to worry about strict dress codes (though perhaps that doesn’t concern the Monégasque royals quite as much as the Brits - see, Charlotte’s aunt-in-law Princess Charlene’s new punk haircut), but she’s still sufficiently in the orbit that her style remains imbued with a hint of royal magic.
Over the years, the 34-year-old Philosophy graduate and equestrian has entwined cool, modern nonchalance with classic glamour in creating her personal style. A few highlights include the laidback white blazer with black cigarette trousers worn in Paris last year, the ruffled floral maxi seen at her brother Pierre’s 2015 wedding to Beatrice Borromeo and the boho-elegant headscarf and navy blazer combination seen at Saint Laurent’s show in Paris earlier this year.
Casiraghi has also taken inspiration from the grandmother she never met, channelling some of Kelly’s best-known screen looks for significant moments in her life. At the wedding of her uncle, Prince Albert, in 2011, Charlotte wore a sweeping pale blue chiffon gown like one seen in To Catch a Thief and for one of the three looks for her own marriage to French film producer Dimitri Rassam, Casiraghi’s Chanel dress nodded to a similar ivory costume in the same Hitchcock film.
Having starred in campaigns for Gucci in the past, Chanel has now enlisted Casiraghi to be an ambassador and spokesperson for the maison. It’s a partnership which promises to go beyond the mother-of-two simply wearing creative director Virginie Viard’s designs.
She will also front a new project entitled ‘Literary rendezvous at rue Cambon’, which will see female writers and actresses discuss their work and ideas in a bid to revive the intellectual exchanges once encouraged by Coco Chanel in her famous apartment and to honour the curiosity of former Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld, who owned a vast collection of books.
“My contribution is being a spokesperson, not just a muse,” Casiraghi, who is President of the Rencontres philosophiques de Monaco, an organisation she founded to promote philosophical discussion, emphasises in a video released to celebrate her new position.
While Casiraghi and Chanel might agree on their shared passion for literature and debate, they also have a long-standing relationship through clothing. “It’s as if I was born with Chanel, I think of photos of my mum when she was pregnant with me… wearing Chanel,” says Casiraghi, going on to remember her close relationship with Lagerfeld, who designed that white Kelly-esque wedding dress as one of his final haute couture creations before his death in February 2019.
Casiraghi has been a quietly elegant presence at Chanel events since her teenage years. In June 2019, she attended Lagerfeld’s memorial with her mother - both of them wearing the house’s distinctive gamine designs and in 2013, she opted for a sugary pink feathered gown for a ball in aid of the Princess Grace Foundation. It was perhaps inevitable that she would eventually formalise her ties with the fashion powerhouse as both Casiraghi's grandmother and mother have been dressed by the label.
In snapshots of her first shoot for Chanel, Casiraghi captures its Parisian insouciance in a slouchy tweed jacket and coordinating skirt, while in the video interview, a similar biker-style is paired with ripped jeans. Her first full campaign is set to be released at the beginning of January.
The Chanel/ Charlotte partnership is a brand/ ambassador arrangement shaped for an era when substance is as valuable as style. And it’s sure to deliver plenty more royal-inflected fashion moments which millennials might genuinely want to recreate.