Crown Princess Marie-Chantal talks to Smallish about achieving a personal milestone – collaborating with Marks & Spencer on a special capsule collection
It’s comforting to know that even a Royal Crown Princess needs to pop into British high-street darling Marks & Spencer to pick up the odd piece of school uniform, kids’ party sausage rolls from the food hall and Percy Pigs (yes, I checked and she likes them). And little wonder, as she’s been busy at the helm of her two-decade strong childrenswear brand that has come to epitomise tradition and couture quality within the industry – not to mention the (surely quite demanding) task of looking after five children and her husband, the Crown Prince of Greece and Denmark.
It’s a career that Crown Princess Marie-Chantal has taken in her stride, developing the brand to suit her growing family. Konstantinos, her eldest son, modelled the iconic baby wing onesie, which remains the signature of the brand even today. I mention to her that the very same onesie adorned the first ever cover of Smallish magazine, and she looks genuinely delighted.
“The collaboration with Marks & Spencer makes me feel that I am truly recognised in the industry,” she says, smiling about the personal milestone. “It’s such a great fit – two heritage brands coming together.”
The 16-year success of Marie-Chantal, it seems, comes from single-mindedly applying the insight that parents try to recreate the rosy memories of their own early years. “My inspiration comes from wanting to emulate the pretty party dress of childhood. By being consistent in that way, we have maintained a loyal customer base that keeps coming back,” she says.
Until now, the Marie-Chantal brand has retailed from luxury boutiques and stores around the world, bringing heritage childrenswear to a rather discerning market. Still, for the majority of people, Knightsbridge’s Walton Street and the like remain out of reach – the prices a reflection of the refinement and craftsmanship that goes into each product. So the new 30-piece special capsule collection from Marie-Chantal, in collaboration with Marks & Spencer, is a triumph for mothers everywhere this season. Bringing Marie-Chantal’s attention to detail, luxurious fabrics and classic tailoring to a more middle-market audience is bound to prove popular for both brands. Savvy mothers will no doubt hotfoot it down to their nearest Marks to secure beautiful cashmere, check and Fair Isle for the winter season – at good value. The red and pink silk velvet party dress (her favourite) can be teamed with a scarlet wool coat – a glorious twist on a traditional girls’ party outfit, and the boys’ charcoal pea coat is a particular classic – an heirloom to be kept and passed down. “Children always look so neat and tidy in a coat!” Marie-Chantal laughs.
What will Christmas bring this year? “I’m cooking for my husband’s five siblings and family,” she says, without skipping a beat. “Last year, everyone received tote bags from LL Bean. I stuffed them with things that everyone really wanted.” Her favourite ever gift? A three-wheeler Green Machine bike when she was a little girl, shipped all the way to Hong Kong. Not a princess dress in sight…
Marie-Chantal for Marks & Spencer is available nationwide now at marksandspencer.com