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Meghan Markle Says Fashion Empowers Women at the 2018 British Fashion Awards

Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, knows firsthand the power of fashion; as a member of the royal family upholding numerous royal traditions, all eyes are on her sartorial choices every day. That may be why her surprise appearance at the 2018 British Fashion Awards in London on Monday night was so important. During her time onstage, Meghan gave a touching speech about why she feels the clothes she chooses to wear are so important.

Taking the stage at Royal Albert Hall, Meghan started with a nod to her new royal roots. “Good evening, everyone. It’s such a pleasure to be here celebrating British fashion and British fashion designers in my new home of the U.K.,” she said with a giggle, eliciting more applause from the crowd.

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She later went on to address the inherently resonant nature of fashion, stating, “As all of you in this room now, we have a deep connection to what we wear. Sometimes, it’s very personal. Sometimes, it’s emotional. But for me, this connection is rooted in really being able to understand that it’s about supporting and empowering each other, especially as women,” Meghan explained. “When we choose to wear a certain designer, we’re not just a reflection of their creativity and their vision, but we’re also an extension of their values — of something in the fabric, so to speak, that is much more meaningful.”

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Meghan later segued into the reason behind her surprise cameo at the fashion awards: honoring her wedding dress designer, Givenchy’s artistic director Clare Waight Keller.

“To that point, I feel especially proud to announce tonight’s winner who, yes, is a British designer leading on the global stage with vision and creativity, but also with incredible kindness, which is why, when I met her for the first time 11 months ago, I knew that we would be working very closely together,” she said, announcing Waight Keller’s name to the audience and a visibly stunned Waight Keller.

Taking the stage, Keller took a moment first to compose herself. “I can’t even tell you how surprised I am! Oh, my God! I just have to take a moment because I’m really shocked. I just saw her last week — I had no idea,” Waight Keller gushed.

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Just after Meghan and Prince Harry’s wedding on May 19, Kensington Palace noted, “the Duchess and Ms. Waight Keller worked closely together on the design, epitomizing a timeless minimal elegance referencing the codes of the iconic House of Givenchy.”

The silk gown with open bateau neckline and sculpted waist featured a showstopping train of soft folds with an underskirt in triple silk organza. The dress is currently on display at Windsor Castle as part of a special royal wedding exhibit.

On designing the historic dress, Waight Keller told People after the wedding that it was a “very collaborative process.” It began with finding out what Meghan had in mind, progressed to sketches and conversations and ultimately culminated in the final design.

“She is just exactly what you see on TV. She is just so genuine and warm and radiant. She is just glowing. And she’s a strong woman. She knows what she wants,” Waight Keller said of the Duchess of Sussex, adding at the time, “Really, it was an absolute joy working with her.”

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