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Meghan started it. Then Kate took it up. Beatrice and Eugenie followed. Zara was next. No, we’re not talking about the latest type of yoga.
It’s Aquazzura heels we’re on about – duh. Any discerning royal style fan will have noticed that the Italian luxury shoe brand has become the royals’ go-to of late – and with good reason.
When Meghan Markle stepped out for her engagement photographs in November 2017, fashion fans were quick to spot her shoe choice. Aquazzura’s ‘Matilde’ pumps were markedly different from the more traditional shoe choices hitherto made by royal women.
These were doubtless influenced by the late Queen Elizabeth, who had conservative views on footwear – and strong views on certain styles. It is said that her distaste for a wedge heel meant Kate only ever wore them for events the Queen was not attending.
So Meghan’s engagement shoes, with their four-inch heel and crossover detail, were quite a departure.
They were certainly not chic-meets-sensible trademark Anello & Davide block heel loafers worn by the Queen and a contrast, too, with the classic, no-frills L.K. Bennett pumps favoured by Kate.
No, Meghan was offering a new take on the heeled pump that was – whisper it – a little bit provocative.
They’re hardly eight-inch platforms, I hear you say. Well, yes. But there’s something about the addition of the spaghetti-thin crossover strap on the front of Meghan’s Aquazzura Matilde heels that creates a beautifully elegant v-shape on the foot.
And the heel was that tiny bit higher than the royal pumps of old – just a centimetre or so, but it makes all the difference. Less frumpy, 1980s mother of the bride and more… elegant.
Kate soon cottoned on that an Aquazzura pump could immediately modernise a look. It is thought she now owns six different styles.
Kate doesn’t have a pair like Meghan’s with a crossover front, but, as well as several of their traditional pump styles (with update royal pumps of old with their ever-so-slightly higher heel), she has some of their ‘bow tie’ pumps.
They’re a traditional pump with a modern twist – small cut-outs at the sides are topped off with a bow detail on the back of the ankle. Sounds grim, looks chic.
Why are they modern? Because, much like Meghan’s engagement heels, they draw attention to the foot.
You can see a glimpse of Kate’s (perfectly pedicured) heels when she wears her bow tie pumps. There’s a reason why royals don’t traipse around in toe-baring sandals in the summer – it’s an unwritten rule amongst the elegant that open-toe shoes or shoes that in any way expose the very front of the foot are unacceptable.
Aquazzura, though, has worked out how to modernise the traditional pump without ever lapsing into vulgarity.
Queen Letizia of Spain and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands have joined the Aquazzura gang too. And they’re not the only international royals who love the brand’s timeless-meets-modern fusion: the twenty-seven-year-old achingly cool Princess Olympia of Greece was announced as their ambassador last year.
There are few fashion houses that successfully unite traditional craftmanship with cutting-edge design – so often, it’s either one or the other.
And this is Aquazzura’s appeal for the royals: their shoes are handmade with a comfort-first approach – something needed when you’re on your feet on a public engagement all day.
They do this without looking remotely orthopaedic – they are cool and modern but never, ever ostentatious. Comfort and style? A footwear double threat, if you will.
Zara Tindall stepping out last night for King Charles’ birthday party in a pair of the brand’s ‘Forever Marilyn’ pumps cemented it: who needs glass slippers when you have Aquazzura?