This week Meghan Markle has worn a taupe Roland Mouret dress for her second day of engagements in Ireland and an elegant black fitted full skirted Dior gown for the RAF 100 service. Both dresses featured an elegant bateau neckline, a style favoured by Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn.
A bateau neck (or boat) is a wide neck that runs horizontally, front and back, almost to the shoulder points across the collar bone. The style derives from sailor sweaters and was said to facilitate quick removal, if a sailor fell overboard.
But it was famously incorporated into evening wear by French couturier Hubert de Givenchy in the 1950s. Movie legend Audrey Hepburn famously formed a close friendship with Hubert and together the pair collaborated on some of the most iconic and memorable movie looks.
The most famous of which being the costumes created for Sabrina in 1954 and Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961.
Both movies created iconic looks – the ‘Sabrina’ dress which featured a bateau neckline, and similarly Holly Golightly’s famous black column dress, which had the same neckline.
So it’s no coincidence that Meghan turned to the house of Givenchy to create her wedding dress. When the Duchess approached Clare Waight Keller, the artistic director at the French fashion house to designer her gown, she knew Clare had her roots in the classical beautiful style from the time of Hubert.
Meghan was relying on Clare to come up with a modern interpretation of the late Givenchy’s signature style.
Meghan’s gown featured the same iconic bateau neckline, and she’s continued to wear it on many occasions.
As far back as 2014, the former ‘Suits’ star wore a sleek blue shift dress with a boat neck and intricate detailing to Elle’s annual Women in Television event.
Fast forward to when Harry met Meghan and she wore a plaid Theory jacket on a visit to Cardiff Castle in Wales in January of this year. This was famously followed by her stunning Givenchy wedding dress.
Since her wedding, Meghan has showcased a boat neck Prada two-piece at the Queen’s Young Leaders reception, a yellow Brandon Maxwell dress with a subtle boat neck to the Your Commonwealth youth challenge reception and an olive green Ralph Lauren gown to Prince Louis’ christening.
And of course, Meghan’s worn two bateau dresses already this week. With her petite frame and dark hair, she has managed to seamlessly adopt Audrey’s iconic style.
Audrey loved the neckline as it hid her slender collarbone and accentuated her shoulders.
The square cut had originally been known as a boat or bateau neckline, but after the success of the film became known as the ‘Sabrina’ neckline and was much copied.
Something tells me it won’t before it’s referred to as the ‘Meghan’.
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