Follow Vogue Arabia

How Alessandra Rich Became the British Royals’ Label of Choice

An official royal family portrait taken in the garden of Clarence House in honor of Prince Charles’ 70th birthday.

An official royal family portrait taken in the garden of Clarence House in honor of Prince Charles’ 70th birthday. Photo: Chris Jackson / Courtesy of Kensington Palace.

When Alessandra Rich arrived on the fashion scene, the designer made an immediate impact with her elegant eveningwear. She has had her moment in the spotlight before, most notably when Samantha Cameron, then the wife of the Prime Minister, wore a blue lace confection to visit Barack and Michelle Obama on an official visit in 2012. But now the unassuming designer, who launched her business in 2010 with no formal design training, is riding high once more: she has become the designer of choice for the royals.

Exhibit A: The Duchess of Cambridge, in a prim, navy, polka dot collared dress from the Spring 2018 collection, which she teamed with a winning smile for the official portraits of her father-in-law Prince Charles’s 70th birthday. Exhibit B: her sister, Pippa Middleton, in a similarly Forties-hued, powder blue dress for the christening of Prince Louis in July. Exhibits C, D, E, ad infinitum: multiple members of the well-heeled west London set who have glided into recent royal events wearing Alessandra Rich dresses. See the actress Abigail Spencer, who wore the very same dress as the Duchess of Cambridge for the wedding of Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex in May, and Emma Louise Connolly, who wore a hot red Rich dress for the wedding of Princess Eugenie, in October.


Abigail Spencer. Image: Getty

Perhaps the clue is in the surname. The Italian-born designer, who lives in an exquisite apartment in London’s Mount Street, has a knack for turning out dresses that hover between parody and permissibility. That balance is catnip for English society’s upper echelons who famously pride themselves on a hearty sense of humor. Depending on their wearer, an Alessandra Rich dress can be resolutely prim or utterly provocative.

The key is in the references: there’s usually a retro impulse to the clothes, with a Forties pleating detail or Eighties Dynasty ruffled neckline playing out to create an aesthetic that’s tongue-in-chic. On the Duchess of Cambridge, for instance, the navy polka dot dress, which was inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt’s 1945 photograph of a sailor kissing a stranger in Times Square, harks back to a Princess Margaret-ish take on daylight glamour. On Sarah Jessica Parker, who wore the dress unbuttoned in April, and teamed it with its rhinestone-studded belt and white pointed stilettos, it looked perversely seductive.

Rich has always been a royal-watcher. A yellow and blue floral wrap dress on her Spring 2019 catwalk, for instance, was an homage to a picture she saw of Princess Margaret in something similarly blousy. Fall 2017 collection was full of tartan tailored dresses with white collars, all doppelgängers of a Catherine Walker suit Princess Diana wore to the Braemar Gathering in 1989.

Commenting on her favorite Diana look – the Princess in a green patterned Catherine Walker dress, white hat and pearl choker in Saudi Arabia, in 1986 – Rich has said: “This is my favorite look as it represents the moment Diana was just turning into a style icon. She is conservative and glamorous at the same time.” No wonder, then that this is fast becoming the designer’s own USP.

Now Read: In Pictures: All the Duchess of Sussex’s Maternity Looks So Far

This article first appeared on

View All
Vogue Collection