Congratulations to the Duchess of Cambridge’s stylist and personal assistant, Natasha Archer, who went to Buckingham Palace yesterday to receive her Member of the Victorian Order from Prince William. Honoured for her services to the Royal family after more than a decade working for the Cambridges, Archer typified polite elegance in a polka-dot L.K Bennett dress, ‘Boleyn’ hatband and buttery suede heels.
If that’s a look which sounds familiar then that’s because it is. Archer, who is married to Getty’s royal photographer Chris Jackson, has emerged as Kate’s not-so-secret style weapon in recent years. And while she’s only rarely seen in public, the glimpses which Jackson offers of his wife’s style via his Instagram account attest to Natasha and Kate’s shared style outlook.
Archer was first identified when she was one of the first to arrive at St Mary’s hospital following the birth of Prince George, carrying a garment bag with the outfit which the duchess would wear to introduce her firstborn son to the world. Along with hairdresser Amanda Cook-Tucker, she forms Kate’s glam squad and has become a familiar sight during William and Kate’s tours, dashing off planes wielding vanity trunks and cases.
Having recently given birth to her first child, Theo, Archer has juggled maternity leave with her work for the duchess. And although Virginia Chadwyck Healy, Kate’s old university friend, has offered advice, Natasha is still playing a paramount role in ensuring her boss is impeccably turned out for every public outing- do not underestimate the extreme attention to detail it has taken for the duchess to have avoided any major fashion faux-pas in recent years. Can you think of a single one?
Naturally, given the amount of time and consideration they must give all matters sartorial, Kate and Natasha’s signature looks have developed some notable overlaps...
The penchant for polka dots
For the presentation of her MVO, Natasha looked to one of the labels which has formed a cornerstone of Kate’s wardrobes for years- L.K Bennett. In fact, one of the last outfits the duchess wore from the label was a bottle green polka dot dress, the last in a trio of similar styles she sported last autumn (the other two were by Whistles and Alessandra Rich). Natasha’s also a fan of the classic print, it seems, opting for a navy and white take for her big day.
The wedding dress
Last week, Jackson marked his two-year wedding anniversary by posting a picture of his wife in her evening bridal gown. With its nipped waist, crystal belt and full skirt, the design bears a striking similarity to the Alexander McQueen look which Kate changed into for her April 2011 wedding reception.
The Cambridge children are famously dressed in adorably traditional outfits which could easily have been worn by their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents- think of Prince George’s shorts and piped shirts, Charlotte’s smocked floral dresses and Louis’s neutral handknits. Archer understands just as well as Kate that your baby's look reflects on your own; she was pictured holding a very smart-looking baby Theo in a crisp little white shirt with checked shorts at the lunch to celebrate her honour. Previous posts show him dressed in timelessly tasteful knits. Perhaps he’s even been given some royal hand-me-downs?
A subtle yet impactful tweak which the Duchess of Cambridge has made over the past year is looking to ‘hatbands’ (a hat meets hairband) as an alternative to more traditional hats. She chose the style for everything from Prince Louis’s christening to Christmas at Sandringham. Natasha solved her own palace millinery dilemma with a hatband too, wearing a knotted dusky pink version.
The striped top
Bretons are hardly a rare wardrobe staple but the duchess and her stylist have both relied on theirs for key dressed-down moments. For Kate, that has meant everything from polo matches to rowing-themed public engagements. Natasha, meanwhile, turned to stripes for her most high-profile appearance alongside the Cambridges, climbing to Bhutan’s Tiger’s Nest monastery during a tour to the kingdom in 2016 and for a recent photo which her husband shared of her working at home.
This week, the Duchess of Cambridge revisited the nude heel, a style she made her own early in her marriage. Perhaps this was no coincidence, as Natasha wore a similar suede option for her investiture. The two women also love wedges as an equally elevated but more practical alternative to a heel. You know what they say about great minds.