The photos trickling in from Rome, Italy, are nothing less than a visual feast for an otherwise average Friday afternoon, and a bit of schadenfreude for anyone who has ever cursed a wedding seating chart.
As we type, Meghan Markle and Ivanka Trump have to sit through the same ceremony celebrating the nuptials of designer Misha Nonoo and entrepreneur Michael Hess.
Call it two households, not alike in dignity. Early snapshots show Meghan and Prince Harry beaming past their small army of guards as they exit their car (not stooping so low as to shut their own doors, thank God!). She put her hair up in the type of perfect regal bun that is usually only reserved for stock photos of princesses.
The new mother had her first big mommy’s night out (or should we say mummy’s, because England), in a truly fabulous blouson-style top adorned with shiny rhinestones. The Daily Mail dutifully reported the dress as a Valentino tulle number costing $13,500. (“Unfortunately, it's currently sold out.”)
Bummer, as the gown boasts what has become the calling card sleeve of the 1 percent: the dress has big arms so dramatic, they inhibit the wearer from doing just about anything. Because that is what assistants are for, of course.
Ivanka, attempting to manifest princessdom herself so doggedly she risks turning into a pumpkin at midnight, opted for her usual over-the-top, not-how-any-human-should-ever-dress aesthetic of a sweeping peach chiffon gown, complete with cape. With her newly short hair in tight curls, it’s pure Barbara Stanwyck, with a hearty dose of American tourist hubris.
Also, with bits of material flying and flowing this way and that, it is a potential health hazard for wearer and passerby alike.
The look may have revived Edith Wharton, dead over 80 years, to write a bitchy book about the two women exchanging cold stares across tables crammed with freesia bouquets, carbonara, and chianti.
Meghan and Ivanka were once close enough to be on speaking terms—or, perhaps more accurately, both had assistants who swapped email addresses. In 2014, when a Trump presidency was just a glint in Roger Stone’s eyes and Meghan was but a humble working television actress, the now-duchess interviewed Ivanka for a post on her blog, called The Tig.
“Let’s take a moment and discuss Ivanka Trump,” Meghan wrote, unaware that a torrent of think pieces would borrow that phrase just a few years later. “Staggering beautiful, no question, but so incredibly savvy and intelligent that she’s not just carved a niche for herself under her father’s famed Trump notoriety, she has undoubtedly created her own empire.”
Meghan even commended Ivanka for never stopping so low as to “dance on tables or release a pop album” during her teenage heiress days. (A diplomatic dig to Paris Hilton, perhaps, who released Stars Are Blind, a very underrated album chock full of very danceable singles, thank you very much!)
She went on to compliment Ivanka’s jewelry collection, rave about the entrepreneur's “honest” responses to the interview questions she passed along about work and motherhood, and revealed that the two had made plans to get drinks and dinner “the next time I am in NY.”
Now they are both in Rome, about to share a dinner, but things have changed. Meghan was a vocal Trump critic before her Duchess days left her unable to comment on politics, and because of that, Ivanka’s father called her “nasty” before his visit to the UK.
Along with that, optics-wise, the liberal-leaning Meghan does not want to be seen with Ivanka. But friendship—and being British, which Meghan is now—means grinning and bearing it and showing up to the wedding. So here they all are.
Also, Katy Perry is there, too. She showed up in a ruffled pink gown, like a sentient lawn flamingo. She brought her longtime beau Orlando Bloom as a plus one, and we love him because he had the best time palling around with friends at Nonoo’s rehearsal dinner.
Things were decidedly less star-studded at Misha Nonoo’s pop-up store in SoHo today. When this writer hopefully asked the staff if they would serve any champagne in the designer’s honor, a saleswoman said, “No, but we should” with a smile.
Staff at the pop-up store felt jubilant enough to suggest this writer try on “The Husband” white button-up, currently on sale for $185.
It’s none other than the same style Meghan wore during her first photographed date with Prince Harry in 2017. It looks like any other oversized business shirt a brand sells, except it closes with tiny little metal button fasteners that might give you arthritis.
You can tell a lot about a woman’s designer based on what they chose to call their bulky tops. The standard (heteronormative) descriptor is “boyfriend.” Edgier labels go with “ex-boyfriend.” Nonoo sweetly chose “husband,” because that’s what Meghan Markle has now!
Nonoo’s very bright, airy, agreeable store comes blazoned with popular feminist slogans on the walls aimed to please the pink pussy hat set.
There’s “What’s a Girl’s Favorite Position? CEO,” and in case you didn't catch that double entendre, you can also get smacked in the face with another: “A Woman’s Place is in the Boardroom.”
Then, the wall's copywriter/designer got bored and went with some platitudes like “Empowered women, empower women” and “Know your worth then add tax.”
Maybe the vaguely political, “If you are more fortunate than others, build a longer table, not a taller fence,” is a coded message for Ivanka to pass along to her dad.
Nonoo traffics a sort of easily digestible feminism aimed to “empower” women who can afford $70 tank tops.
But Nonoo, who last week told The New York Times she and Meghan share a “passion for equality,” seems to be trying to do something with her privilege. Meghan tapped the designer to help with her capsule collection for SmartWorks charity, and for every piece of the workwear line that is sold in store, one will be donated to an unemployed woman currently job-hunting.
My editor, Tim Teeman, dubbed the Nonoo aesthetic “Meg-vanka”: social justice twinged with comfortable, who-could-dissent? statements about “being a boss.” Currently, Meghan's embrace of feminism seems more active and committed than Ivanka’s; and Donald Trump's antipathy towards Meghan likely means the women will not be photographed together in Italy. (Will they speak? Will we know?)
For now, for one night, Meghan and Ivanka must do the balletic dance of avoiding photo ops, while mingling with other privileged members of the glitterati. That’s amore!