On the wedding day, Princess Rajwa Al Hussein wore a delicate wedding gown designed by Middle-East designer Elie Saab. (Photo: Twitter)
The recently held wedding of Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah and Princess Rajwa Al Hussein in Amman, Jordan was a brilliant lesson in fashion diplomacy. As King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan hosted the bevy of royals from all over the world at the wedding and banquet dinner, fashion insiders couldn’t help but discuss the gorgeous gowns and couture ensembles of the VIP guests, diplomats and dignitaries present for the royal wedding weekend.
On the wedding day, Princess Rajwa Al Hussein wore a delicate wedding gown designed by Middle-East designer Elie Saab, and Queen Rania of Jordan wore a stunning haute couture cape long dress with embroidered pearls by the same designer for the banquet dinner celebration. During one of the ceremonies, Queen Rania was also seen welcoming her guests at the Zahran Palace in a stunning Christian Dior Fall-Winter 2022 couture outfit. Princess Catherine of Wales (Kate Middleton), who attended the wedding with Prince William, wore a custom Elie Saab Fall-Winter 2017 gown while attending the wedding, and opted for a shimmering Jenny Packham outfit and tiara for the dinner. The first lady of the USA, Jill Biden also attended the ceremony in an elegant gown by Lebanese designer Reem Acra.
Other noteworthy guests like Princess Beatrice looked chic in Reem Acra outfit, and crown Princess Mary of Denmark donned a flowy gown by Erdem and for the second ceremony, she chose an upcycled Jesper Hovring outfit.
On the other hand, Queen Sofia of Spain looked elegant in a vintage Valentino 2003 Couture gown, and the crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was seen in a Scandinavian designer label By Malina ensemble. As the wedding nuptials saw an esteemed VIP gathering, a common factor that stood out was love for local culture and sublime power dressing with quiet luxury ensembles.
At high-profile events, the dress code is often formal and dignified yet international style icons have always stood out with their bespoke modest fashion choices. According to stylist Karan Sethi, world leaders and diplomats have always used fashion to display power and send a message with significant colours and motifs. He says, "For any royal or a world leader, appropriate attire plays a very important role in making an impression. They often choose a relatable designer from the country and wear bespoke outfits that depict their style as well as respect for local culture. At the royal wedding of Jordan, modest luxury outfits with local embellishments on the VIP guests were the talk of the town. And, some royals were also seen in vintage outfits and repeat ensembles to give out a positive message for sustainable fashion."
From Maharani Gayatri Devi to Jacky Kennedy to Princess Diana, wives of monarchs and politicians have often enjoyed heavy adulation and respect for their sartorial choices. Talking about the patronage for local designers by royal icons, designer Priyanka Gupta of the label Summer, mentions, "Fashion diplomacy is a legitimate way to amp soft power — and nobody uses it better than Princess Kate. Not only does she stun at every occasion in her home country — with her graceful yet inspiring fashion choices; she brings the same charm to her tours too where she skillfully combines local wear with her innate style to make everyone fall in love with her and her family. On a visit to India, she wore a long dress by Indian designer Anita Dongre and was praised for her choice of attire. What sets her apart from other diplomats and celebrities who don saris on their visits to India is that she never looks gimmicky. She always chooses to dress well and authentically, which makes her fashion choices relatable and exciting for people. People want to know what she’s wearing, and where she’s going, and this draws attention to her and her causes. This is the power of fashion diplomacy."
Combining modesty, sophistication, and individuality to create an elegant and refined appearance, is a trend particularly relevant in diplomatic circles, owing to cultural sensitivity and professionalism. In the bygone era, diplomatic fashion traditionally leaned towards conservative and formal attire, however, in recent times there has been a shift towards embracing modest chic trends. This evolution not only reflects changing societal norms but also highlights the importance of striking a balance between elegance, sophistication, and cultural sensitivity.
Modest chic fashion enables diplomats to respect and honour the cultural sensitivities of the countries they are visiting, creating a positive and respectful image, believes Ketki Arora, founder of the label Femella. She says, "Dressing in a modest yet chic manner exudes professionalism. It conveys the message that diplomats take their roles seriously and are committed to their responsibilities. This sartorial choice enhances their credibility and diplomatic relations. Modest chic fashion is also characterised by timeless pieces that transcend fleeting trends. By choosing classic cuts, styles, and colours, diplomats can maintain a polished and sophisticated look that remains relevant for years to come. This consistency in appearance helps establish a sense of trust and reliability."
Keeping it authentic
Since a picture speaks a thousand words, fashion diplomacy can help make cross-cultural connections and generate engagement with the masses. However, fashion isn’t always an easy diplomatic fix, it’s a series of wise choices mixed with personal style and discernment, points out Priyanka Gupta. She highlights an important aspect, "When the Trudeau family visited India, their awkward Indian attire made their trip looked like a scrapbook of cultural stereotyping, instead of a show of bonhomie and friendship. Fashion doesn’t work without authenticity. Queen Rania and Princess Kate don’t just wear fabulous clothes — they always dress appropriately and in line with their style. Their ability to make modest, cultural, and even regimental attire look appealing is how they build resonance, promote culture, and connect with people at all levels."