I almost spit out my coffee when I heard this one—Kate Middleton isn’t a style icon? Who dared to even utter such sacrilege you ask? Celebrity branding expert and University of Southern California marketing professor Jeetendr Sehdev, who conducted a survey among American and British women and found that Kate has the same amount of fashion influence as Kate Beckinsale, Paris Hilton, and…Snooki. His findings, reported in WWD, surmise that ladies are gravitating toward figures they feel are more independent, such as Taylor Swift, Sienna Miller, and Michelle Obama (big-time—she’s ranked as 11 times more influential, style-wise, than Kate).
The good professor objects to the $1.6 billion analysts have estimated the “Kate Effect” moves in the retail sphere, saying it’s actually just a fifth of that, and explains that examined in light of the style icon definition he created after surveying women, Kate falls flat. (His criteria include a sense of style, confidence, timelessness, independence, and a touch of provocativeness.)
“It seems like she’s kind of being dressed or is dressing for a nation,” he said, saying that while women found her likable, they also regarded her as safe and not terribly independent. He also pointed out that her wardrobe is consisting more and more of designer pieces rather than mass buys from Topshop or Zara and predicts that will isolate some of her fashion fans.
But don’t freak out—it’s the First Lady, not Snooki, who’s proving to be the biggest competition for Kate.
“First and foremost, she seems to be dressing for herself. She’s seen taking far more risks,” he said. “She seems to have a much stronger sense of independence. She’s nobody’s right hand; she’s a person unto herself, and that really scores highly when it comes to how that translates into fashion. Michelle is a lot older, and yet these sorts of characteristics are resonating more with today’s woman. It’s not about being the perfect princess anymore.”