The symbolism behind Meghan Markle’s gilded glamour moment

 (Getty Images Ms. Foundation for )
(Getty Images Ms. Foundation for )

Meghan Markle made a gilded glamour statement last night as she and Prince Harry attended the 2023 Women of Vision Awards in New York.

The LA-dwelling couple, who rarely make public appearances these days, preferring the hiking aesthetic of Montecito to the heels and ties of their former royal life, were present at the awards thanks to Meghan’s place on the list of honourees.

Prince Harry wore his usual suiting — navy blue, single breasted, white shirt, powder blue patterned tie, no surprises there — but it was Meghan who made a notable departure from the looks we became accustomed to during her time as a royal.

Doria Ragland, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Getty Images for Ms. Foundation)
Doria Ragland, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Getty Images for Ms. Foundation)

Flanked by her plus ones (Harry and her mother, Doria Ragland), Meghan beamed in a $1,850 metallic gold jacquard dress by Johanna Ortiz. The Duchess of Sussex chose to remove the straps of the dress, wearing it strapless with long tousled hair, minimal jewellery, a Carolina Herrera clutch and pair of Tom Ford heels.

If the look feels different to what you’re used to seeing the erstwhile royal wear — that’s because it is. The outfit has a significantly more relaxed feel, from the loose waves in her hair to the tiny cut out section beneath the dress’s bust, echoing the casual A-list glamour Markle used to exude back when she used to walk red carpets as an actress, before she faced the more formal clothing restrictions of a royal.

These restrictions are something Markle has addressed previously, explaining how her more muted, nude-palette dressing for royal engagements was usually a result of not wanting to clash with other members of the royal family.

Harry and Meghan on a Royal visit to Northern Ireland in 2018 (PA Archive)
Harry and Meghan on a Royal visit to Northern Ireland in 2018 (PA Archive)

In the third episode of the documentary, Meghan told her interviewer: “When I was in the UK I rarely wore colour. I wore a lot of muted tones. I also wore it so I could just blend in. I'm not trying to stand out here. I don't want to embarrass the family.

“To my understanding, you can’t ever wear the same colour as Her Majesty if there’s a group event. But then you also shouldn’t be wearing the same colour as one of the other more senior members of the family.”

But now that Meghan and Harry are no longer working royals, the duchess has been slowly casting aside the unwritten dress codes of her old life. This is also shown in the documentary, as Markle is filmed getting ready for an event for which she wore a bright red, billowing Carolina Herrera gown, a symbolic departure from her nude uniform.

Meghan Markle in a Carolina Herrera gown (Getty Images)
Meghan Markle in a Carolina Herrera gown (Getty Images)

Meghan’s look last night continued this trend, as she prepared to accept an award to honour her "global advocacy to empower and advocate on behalf of women and girls,” presented by iconic feminist Gloria Steinem.