What is the ‘Kate effect’? Red dress searches rocket after birthday portrait reveal

Kate Middleton's strategy' to avoid 'eclipsing' Prince Charles

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Kate, Duchess of Cambridge posed for a trio of stunning pictures to mark her fourth decade on January 9, 2022. In each snap, Kate can be seen wearing a different gown by renowned British designer, Alexander McQueen. Only one shot out of the three is in full colour, with the Duchess seen gazing at the camera in a one-shouldered red gown.

Research by printing and photography experts Printique found searches for ‘red dress’ exploded by 376 percent across the globe on January 9 following the release of Kate’s birthday portraits.

The analysis of Google search data found search for the term reached nearly five times the average volume in one day.

A spokesperson for Printique commented on the findings: “These new photographs reveal a side of Kate Middleton we’ve never seen before – unafraid, powerful, and with a hint of wildness to her classic beauty, she looks every inch the future Queen.

“Paolo Roversi has done an extraordinary job of combining classical, idealised elements of royal photography with striking brushes of colour and boldness, from the blown-out look of Kate Middleton’s mane to the scarlet of her red McQueen dress in one of the photos.

“Another black-and-white photo, which features the Duchess of Cambridge in profile, reflects the ethereal, regal quality of the renowned court photographer Cecil Beaton, who captured historic images of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother, and searches for ‘Cecil Beaton’ also exploded 669 percent one day after the photos were released.

“All three photographs already have the feel and weight of history, and will remain iconic images of the monarchy as the centuries progress.”

The fascination with Kate’s latest outfit is nothing new, as the Duchess’ style choices frequently cause a fashion frenzy among royal watchers.

The desire to emulate Kate’s style has long been coined the ‘Kate effect’ by commentators and the media – here’s why.

What exactly is the ‘Kate effect’?

A fascination with the fashion choices of prominent royals has a long precedent, with Princess Diana still considered one of the world’s most famous fashion icons to date.

Since Kate burst onto the royal scene more than a decade ago, royal fans cannot seem to get enough of her outfits too.

When Kate’s engagement to Prince William was announced in 2010, the public’s reaction to Kate’s navy ensemble arguably saw the ‘Kate effect’ begin.

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Kate wore a navy wrap dress from Issa London which quickly sold out online, with royal fans keen to emulate the style of the future Queen.

Over the years to follow, Kate has worn a mix of high-end designer outfits and up and coming labels, boosting the profiles of several fashion brands.

Kate has worn clothing from label Beulah on several occasions, and the brand’s co-founder Natasha Rufus Isaacs told Marie Claire a few years ago: “I was so excited the first time I found out that the Duchess had chosen to wear one of our dresses.

“We were a relatively unknown and young label, and it definitely helped spread the word about us and the cause that we support.”

The Duchess is keen to promote the British high street with her outfits, favouring outfits from brands such as LK Bennett, Reiss and Zara.

And there are some designers Kate consistently returns to including Catherine Walker, Alexander McQueen and Jenny Packham, with the latter brand designing Kate’s iconic dress for the James Bond premiere last year.

Newsweek once estimated the ‘Kate effect’ could “be worth £1billion to the UK fashion industry”.

Kate’s outfit choices can significantly boost the sales of fashion businesses, with many gaining new customers eager to get an outfit worn by the Duchess of Cambridge for themselves.

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