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Assessing the Middleton Effect on London’s Fashion Week.

Mar 28, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 27 • By SAMANTHA SAULT
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Maria Francesca Pepe, a young accessories designer whose work has been worn by Lady Gaga and Rihanna, echoed the sentiment. She showed tribal and futuristic jewelry made of studs, pearls, and crystals, designed primarily for “women in their twenties and thirties who are enjoying fashion.” Although she would love to see Kate wear a “bold, avant-garde” necklace with one of her simple dresses, “it’s easier for her to dress more classic” in her role. Pepe thinks women in the public eye should not be criticized for “enjoying beautiful things and supporting young designers” if they choose.

There is a woman in the public eye, however, who is actively supporting young designers and becoming something of an industry fixture: Samantha Cameron, the prime minister’s wife. As a British Fashion Council ambassador, she was not only spotted in the front row at shows like Burberry, but she also hosted a party at 10 Downing Street for the industry elite, including Westwood, Helayel, Claudia Schiffer, and top editors. And at every event, Mrs. Cameron wore a wide mix of some of Britain’s high-end runway designers and High Street boutiques, including a unique galaxy-print skirt by rising star Christopher Kane.

Samantha Cameron’s enthusiasm for the industry is not so she can be showered with designer garments, or sip champagne with powerful editors, but because (as she said at the Fashion Week opening), “It makes more than £20 billion a year for our country. It sends out a really powerful message about British creativity and it employs hundreds of thousands of people.”

Samantha Sault is a writer in Washington.

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