The Sunday Telegraph - 5th November 2017 Text: Caroline Leaper
Meet Fiona Clare, the designer shaping the Duchess of Cornwall's elegant royal wardrobe.
Fiona Clare, one of the Duchess's most-trusted designers….
When Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall turned 70 this summer, a beautiful celebratory portrait was commissioned. Mario Testino, one of the modern royal family's favourite photographers, took the flattering shot, the Duchess's personal hairdresser, Hugh Green, did a bouncy, soft, soft, blowdry. And her choice for the outfit? One of her most-trusted dressmakers, Fiona Clare.
Clare hadn't known that her navy jacket and embroidered dress would be featured in the milestone picture, which made front pages around the world. "I had absolutely no idea," she tells The Telegraph of her surprise at being credited. "I had made it for her before she went on tour to Austria earlier in the year, but I didn't know that she would wear it for that shot. Sometimes you know that you're giving ideas for a trip, or you're briefed on a special event, but usually I just make things and wait to see what happens. It's like getting an A* at A-Level or something, it's a fantastic feeling when you see the result."
The Duchess has perhaps experienced a rougher ride than most from the fashion press since she joined the royal family in 2005, being dubbed frumpy and lumpy, with a wardrobe of tired country casuals worn on every occasion, regardless of the dress code. With a roster of designers including Clare, Bruce Oldfield and Anna Valentine now on her side, though, Camilla's look has evolved to become polished, elegant and, most importantly, figure-flattering. Just this week, on tour in Singapore, she's debuted a case-full of smooth, softly printed day dresses and sharp tailoring options. "Nothing is fussy about her clothes now," Clare says. "I spend a lot of time looking back to pictures of her in things before making decisions about cuts, as she's photographed from every angle so everything needs to be flattering. For everyone I want the fit to be perfect, but for her I want super super perfect."