Perhaps for this first time in his life, Prince Charles is both in Vogue and in vogue.
At the age of 71 the heir to the throne is in a fashion magazine actually talking about fashion. His clothes. His wardrobe. What he wears and how he wears it.
Charles has been flaunting his curves in tweedy waistcoats, posing nicely in a jolly super tie, telling the world how he has worn the same shoes and suits for decades.
Move over Meghan, with your £56,000 engagement frock and delicious Stella McCartney wedding party gown.
Kiss off Kate, in your impeccable shirt dresses (love!) and rigorous adherence to shoe seasons; espadrilles in summer, courts in winter and never the twain shall twixt. The royal girls have had their time basking in the adulation of fashion experts.
Now the Prince of Patch-Up is ready for his close-up — even if he is not being judged by the same high standards. Men never are. Vogue has applauded the fact that Charles is an ardent wardrobe recycler who never throws anything away. Very thrifty of him, I am sure.
Yet if a duchess or a princess did the same, the fashion world would be the first to declare her a style disaster, a sartorial danger zone. Look at Princess Anne, who would re-purpose a horse blanket into a dress and matching coat if she could possibly get away with it, and sometimes I think she does.
JAN MOIR: In recent photographs taken by the Mail, Prince Charles was seen in one of these thrifty creations — an absolutely marvellous piece of clothing that looked as if the remnants of an explosion in a gamekeeper’s boot room had been stitched back together by the best tailor in Middle-earth
Anne has long made it clear that she is not interested in fashion, and in return fashion is not concerned with her. I doubt if she has bought a new skirt since 1973.
Yet does Anne ever get any recognition for this prudence and lack of vanity? Not really, despite the fact that she posed in a pair of khaki trousers for her 70th birthday portrait.
Meanwhile, Charles can do no wrong. He’s a man! His Vogue interview comes a week before the launch of a sustainable fashion collaboration between his charity, the Prince’s Foundation, and the Yoox Net-A-Porter group.
It will comprise a capsule collection designed by fashion students in Milan and manufactured by students in a traditional crafts-and-skills programme at Dumfries House, part of the Foundation.
Marvellous news, and one can only applaud the Prince for his dedication to keeping alive the kind of luxury smallbatch production skills that are particularly under threat at the moment. But let’s get real, is it entirely wise for the Prince to advocate himself as a paragon of frugality, even for a good cause? Ahem.
Charles still wears a pair of shoes that he got in 1971, and you can bet your boots that they are not purple platforms with an appliqued silver star on the toecap.
He is not baroque, he is a brown brogue man through and through; someone who sticks to classics and cleaves to tradition like the silk piping on the lapel of his Turnbull & Asser pyjamas. He has worn the same two formal overcoats since the 1980s — with such admirable frequency that I know them better than some of the outerwear in my own wardrobe.
Prince Charles and the Queen attend a photocall at the Sandringham Museum, Sandringham Estate, Norfolk, in 1988
There is the famous camel coat, plus an instantly recognisable tweeddouble-breasted number from Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard. When he trots up to Crathie Church in one, or gets out of the royal car in Sandringham in the other, I like the cosy familiarity of his swaddled appearance; it feels like all is well in the world. But no wonder Charles gets them repaired, not replaced.
The tweed one costs at least £2,200 — the kind of sum which could clothe an entire family for a year or more.
Probably more. ‘I happen to be one of those people who’d get shoes — or any item of clothing — repaired, rather than just throw it away,’ said the Prince, who disapproved of this ‘extraordinary trend of throwaway clothing’.
There speaks a man who has never bought a pair of leggings from Primark or been dismayed by the percentage of actual cashmere in a High Street cashmere jumper. Let them eat cake if they must, he seems to be saying, but please not in a flame-retardant onesie from New Look, reduced to £5.99 in the sale.
On the one hand, it is admirable for the man who would be king to insist upon make-do-and-mend rather than spend, spend, spend.
But to be honest, it is easy for Prince Charles to keep his clothes for half a century because he can afford to buy the very best quality items in the first place.
And wardrobe space is not a problem. In addition, sequestered somewhere in or near one of his palaces are a crew of nimble-fingered seamstresses and tailors at his royal disposal.
They are the ones who create the magic and how I wish I had them in my life, too. In recent photographs taken by the Mail, Prince Charles was seen in one of these thrifty creations — an absolutely marvellous piece of clothing that looked as if the remnants of an explosion in a gamekeeper’s boot room had been stitched back together by the best tailor in Middle-earth.
What was it? A gardening overcoat? A pre-dinner, post-grouse shoot smoking trench? Impossible to say, except that it is almost as beautiful as the much repaired waxed jacket he has also been photographed wearing.
I love them both, but the truth is that when Prince Charles climbs inside these incredible creations, which must take many hours of sewing power to create, he is a rich man in a poor man’s shirt. And there is no point in pretending otherwise.
Sparkle like Sophie in your own Kitchen Disco
Lockdown is no one’s idea of fun, but this year’s muted celebrations — in my neighbourhood at least — for Halloween and Guy Fawkes was something to, well, celebrate.
For a start, local pets didn’t have a collective nervo at constant fireworks for three weeks.
And ghastly random children didn’t come a-knocking on doors demanding sweets. It was win-win-win — especially when pop singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor made a welcome return to her Halloween-themed kitchen disco.
Pop singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor (pictured) made a welcome return to her Halloween-themed kitchen disco
Sophie’s Instagram kitchen discos filmed live from her home during the first lockdown provided much needed moments of chaotic nonsense and fun.
She sings, she dances, she chides her four children for eating too many sweets and somehow it is all adorable. She has certainly started something.
Not only does she have a kitchen disco album out soon, John Lewis have crashed into the trend by selling a Kitchen Disco Two Piece outfit. Made by Hush it costs nearly £170 and appears to be a sequinned track suit.
I don’t know what Prince Charles would day about such a fleeting fashion item, but I’m in if you are.
Down and pout in Beverly Hills
Forget the trauma of the election, what I want to know is how are the constraints of the mandatory Covid face mask affecting the fashion choices of influencers and stars in America?
Because you’ve still got to make an impact above the mask line, right? Right.
My spy in Los Angeles reports that super-long false eyelashes are very popular, along with crazy tinted eyebrows.
Green is a particularly hot choice, like for real. The latest craze in Beverly Hills is to get your cosmetologist to give you an extra pump of lip filler, just enough to make the imprint of your pout visible through your mask.
I wish I was joking, but I am not.
Pass me that sliced onion. Thirteen years after he left these shores to become a tax exile, Lewis Hamilton is wailing that he is missing England. Boo bloody hoo.
The motor racing champ says that he misses green trees and the countryside — but presumably not enough to give up his tax-free status. Wasn’t he recently complaining about racism in the UK?
It didn’t exactly stop him from becoming the top racing driver in the world, although, no doubt, he has had his struggles.
Still, it would be interesting to know if black lives matter more in Monaco, where he has now chosen to live.
Thirteen years after he left these shores to become a tax exile, Lewis Hamilton (pictured) says that he is missing England
The Yanks give thanks for Paul the pudding
Friends actor David Schwimmer thinks it is ‘competitive but everyone’s lovely with each other. It’s so not American.’
Comedienne Amy Schumer describes it as ‘a true joy’, while former wrestler turned film star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has said: ‘I would be doing that show if I wasn’t shooting a movie.’
What has got their whisks into such a sugary froth? It is the new series of The Great British Bake Off, which is being simultaneously broadcast in America for the first time.
The U.S. has its own version — The Great American Baking Show — but connoisseurs prefer the original, which is currently being shown on Netflix and PBS. Why? We are just nicer, apparently.
‘The bakers actually help each other, what planet are we living on?’ wrote one American viewer this week. Millions of U.S. fans just can’t get enough of ye olde Bake Off tent in merrie old England, which is very different to their own cooking shows.
The new series of The Great British Bake Off is being simultaneously broadcast in America for the first time. Pictured: Presenters Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith
We have very different bakes for a start — Battenbergs and soggy bottoms are particularly unusual concepts for them to grasp. ‘I feel like American baking shows are like, ok, make cupcakes…500 times,’ one viewer posted on social media. ‘All the things they make are so pretty!’ wrote another.
UK GBBO was also described as wholesome, relaxing, mellow and calming to watch, an ‘escape from all the negativity we see and hear all day’.
Another fan reported that ‘all the British contestants are normal people with no manufactured drama or overblown sob stories. It’s just a great watch after a day of stress.’
However, some things remain culturally confusing. ‘What is this thing called a pudding?’ someone wanted to know. I can help out here. His name is Paul. He is one of the judges.
Prince William caught Covid-19 in the summer, but he and his advisers decided to keep it a secret. Why?
Apparently there was worry that, with both Boris Johnson and Prince Charles known to have caught the disease, people might have been frightened to hear that William had it, too. Is that such a bad thing? It might have scared some sense into Covidiots and Cov-deniers.
It might have made some people think twice. It might have saved lives. It might have made some disbelievers take the rules a bit more seriously.
It seems outrageous that he was a key player in high-profile pandemic PR events — such as clapping for carers — but kept his illness quiet.
He may have had his reasons, but if Prince William wants to maintain public trust, he can’t play fast and loose with matters of public health.