The Duchess of Cambridge has been establishing the headband as one of her style signatures since the birth of Prince Louis in the spring of 2018, and this Easter, she dug out a favorite brilliant blue Jane Taylor headpiece with which to offset her duck egg Emilia Wickstead coat dress at a Windsor church service. First worn at Sandringham in 2019, the diamond crepe pleated hair adornment was the perfect foil to Kate’s prim spring formalwear, which was a color-blocker’s dream.
Taylor, who grew her millinery empire on a narrow boat docked in Kew before setting up shop on Chelsea’s King’s Road, has become something of a secret weapon for Kate. Her arts and crafts-inspired pieces, such as the two-tone Jane Taylor halo band which brought a festive flourish to the Duchess’s burgundy Catherine Walker coat for a 2018 Christmas Day service, are instant outfit elevators, but offer a modern alternative to the world of hats and fascinators. The blooming cream Jane Taylor headpiece, which Kate commissioned for Louis’s christening in July 2018, is perhaps her most famous take on the world of regal headwear regalia, while a Blair Waldorf-esque band worn on a royal tour of Dublin in March 2020 showed a more discreet everyday way to wear the accessory.
Wimbledon-based Juliette Botterill is another millinery favorite of Kate’s that is less Ladies’ Day, more refined, thanks to the designer’s keen eye for sculptural silhouettes. (Botterill cut her teeth in the studio of the Queen’s milliner, Marie O’Regan.) A blue Juliette special laden with florals added flair to Kate’s Catherine Walker dress coat at the wedding of Sophie Carter and Robert Snuggs in September 2018, while a pretty pink silk band pepped up her pleated pussy-bow Stella McCartney dress at Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor’s christening during the summer of the following year.
Although hair adornments can be seen as a natural extension of the jeweled, ornamental crowns, tiaras and tokens that are part and parcel of her royal image, the Duchess doesn’t discriminate between high end and high street. She’s just as likely to be seen wearing a beaded Zara Alice band as she is to commission a royal milliner to create something special for her. The sweet ribbons Kate also ties in her ponytail might look like the work of fashion favorite Jennifer Behr, but are actually from J Crew.
The fashion pack commends the Duchess’s growing collection of chic headpieces. “I like them as they frame your face and extend your silhouette,” Simone Rocha, whose hairbands are as much a part of her personal aesthetic as they are her catwalk looks, opines about the appeal. Vogue’s contributing fashion director Venetia Scott, who calls hair accessories a habit of a lifetime, also praises the fuss-free, foolproof mode of adorning an outfit. “It’s just a detail which I forget is even there,” says Scott. “It’s funny how people pierce so many holes in their ears to have more places for jewelry, but they don’t use their hair more to embellish.”
The rest of the industry agrees. From household-name brands, like Miu Miu and Gucci, to the accessories labels, including Maison Michel, Eugenia Kim and Lelet NY who Kate is yet to discover, hair accents have become a bona fide category for e-tail giants and department stores alike. When Prada released its wildly popular satin bands stamped with the brand’s triangular plaque, Net-a-porter.com grew its headband offering by 50 per cent to satisfy the demand for the myriad colors, crystal and studded versions.
Head adornments were not always on the Duchess’s sartorial agenda, however. The 2012 Diamond Jubilee Tour around the Solomon Islands saw her don a variety of floral headdresses that one could only assume she had not planned to wear when plotting out her usual diplomatic wardrobe. She did not return to headbands again until the summer of 2016, when she entered the Alice band phase. Cue a barrage of flashbacks to Fergie in the ’80s, which are now, thankfully, a long way and many excellent headbands behind her.
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk