***SCROLL DOWN TO BOTTOM FOR UPDATE ON “I LOVE CALIFORNIA” PRINT”
This weekend marked the one-year anniversary of Meghan’s Smart Set capsule collection, designed with a one-for-one business model where for every piece sold, another piece would be donated to the U.K. charity Smart Works – of which the Duchess of Sussex is a patron even still today, though she and her family have relocated to California.
Smart Works – an organization that assists women in finding employment, providing them coaching and professional attire for job interviews – reported that, within the past year, they have helped over 3,000 clients, and 1,000 women have taken pieces from the collection.
To celebrate, on Saturday, September 12 – the exact one-year anniversary of the capsule collection’s launch – Meghan hopped on a Zoom call with three women whom Smart Works helped get jobs. Donning a low ponytail and a white jacket that resembles the Acacia White Blazer from Altuzarra she has worn in the past and a brown silk camisole, Meghan congratulated the three women on their success.
“I’ve heard all of your stories and I mean, my goodness, so much success with all the new job hires you have and just amazing to see what’s happened, especially with what everyone in the world has gone through in the past couple months,” she said.
Sitting in front of a stone fireplace in what is assumed to be her new Santa Barbara home, Meghan – long a well-known lover and aficionado of fashion – said that even more important than the clothes the women wore was what Smart Works helped them find inside themselves.
“All of that stuff [the clothes themselves] is the exterior, but it’s what it does for you on the inside that ends up being the best accessory,” she said. “It’s the confidence, it’s what is built within – that is the piece that you walk out of that room with and walk into the interview with that will take you to the next layer of success, and that’s what I love so much about the organization.”
Eagle-eyed watchers will notice a vintage print of a bear holding the state of California in the background of Meghan’s Zoom call, and upon a little digging we found that the artwork is taken from the cover of the sheet music for California’s regional anthem, “I Love You, California” – likely a not-so-subtle nod to the Sussexes happiness about their recent relocation.
In addition to the Zoom call on Saturday, Meghan surprised another Smart Works client via Zoom back in March before the aspiring psychologist went on an interview for an internship.
“I think you’re going to be fantastic,” Meghan told her. “Best of luck. My fingers are crossed for you.”
Meghan wore her hair in a half-up, half-down style and rewore a Joseph Garnet red v-neck sweater and the Visionary Charm Necklace from Edge of Ember as she told the client that she was “really proud to be able to be their patron.”
The genesis of the idea for the Smart Set collection was launched after Meghan’s many visits to Smart Works while still living in the U.K., where she noticed that, while donations were plentiful, they weren’t totally size-inclusive and didn’t always work for Smart Works’ clientele.
“When you walk into a Smart Works space, you’re met with racks of clothing and an array of bags and shoes,” Meghan wrote in the September 2019 issue of British Vogue, which she famously guest-edited.
“Sometimes, however, it can be a potpourri of mismatched sizes and colors, not always the right stylistic choices or range of sizes. To help with this, I asked Marks & Spencer, John Lewis & Partners, Jigsaw and my friend, the designer Misha Nonoo, if they were willing to design a capsule collection of more classic options for a workwear wardrobe. Taking the idea further, many of the brands agreed to use the one-for-one model: For each item purchased by a customer, one is donated to the charity. Not only does this allow us to be part of each other’s story, it reminds us we are in it together.”
The collection launched on September 12, 2019 on the rooftop terrace of John Lewis’ flagship department store in London. At the launch, Meghan wore the white Misha Nonoo blouse and the black Jigsaw trousers from the Smart Set and spoke to the crowd assembled about the collection. (In addition to the blouse and trousers, the five-piece collection also featured a black Jigsaw blazer, a Marks & Spencer crepe shift dress in black, pink, and blue, and a John Lewis leather bag in both black and tan, which Meghan announced at the event had sold out – a fact she found out in the car on the way to the launch.)
In a statement from Smart Works, CEO Kate Stephens said Meghan’s Smart Set collection was a game-changer for the organization.
“The Smart Set capsule collection has been a revolution for our wardrobes,” Stephens said. “When we meet a client who wants to look chic and smart, we have four beautiful wardrobe essentials we know we can reach for. The collection has elevated the Smart Works experience for so many of our clients and the generosity of our supporters means we’ll be able to continue supporting women with pieces from the collection for the year ahead as well.”
Watch the full video of the call below —
A recap of what Meghan wore —
For the Smart Works Zoom call on Saturday, it appears the Duchess may have worn her Altuzarra ‘Acacia’ jacket in white (we were only ever able to find it in grey), no longer available. We first saw her wear the jacket during in Australia on Cockatoo Island for the Invictus Games opening day events.
The jacket is available in a beige and black pinstripe, currently marked down, $795 and a black version of the jacket, $1495.
This grey jacket from H&M is a great #MatchMegStyle for the Altuzzara jacket. The fitted jacket in light gray melange, $34.99.
For the surprise Zoom call with the Smart Works client back in March, Meghan wore her Joseph garnet red v-neck sweater, $281 (no longer available).
Here are some #MatchMegStyle sweaters for the Joseph v-neck —
Meghan’s necklace is the Visionary Charm Necklace from Edge of Ember, $175.
In September 2019, Meghan wore the white Misha Nonoo blouse and the black Jigsaw trousers, £120 from the Smart Set for the launch of the collection along with a pair of Manolo Blahnik BB pumps in cognac suede, $625 and a leather belt by Polo Ralph Lauren – try this Lauren Ralph Lauren one, $35.99.
She also wore the Zofia Day Open Diamond Cuff, $1200; Shaun Leane Tusk Bangle in yellow gold vermeil and diamonds,$1,227; the Pippa Small ’Oshna’ bangle, $140 and a bracelet that once belonged to Princess Diana.
UPDATE 16 September: Finally, while on the call, spotted behind Meghan, was this print.
The print is the “I Love You California” Official State Song & Bear. It was originally available from Etsy seller Nicolas and Riley, however the shop has announced on Instagram (below) that the print is now exclusively available via Big Daddy Antiques.
You can just make out part of the print above Meghan’s left shoulder sitting on the mantel.
The print is a high resolution scan of an original image and is printed using a wax based ink which gives the image a much softer appearance than a traditional print. It is available in three sizes – Small: 36H x 31W, $695, Medium: 45W x 52H, $1295 and Large: 54W x 64H, $1795.
If you want a less expensive alternative, this version of the print is available from Society6 starting at $52 for the small print (15″x21″) and $187 for the large print (26″x38″).
- Read more about the “I Love California” print in Harper’s Bazaar here.
- Read Tatler’s article here about Meghan’s Zoom call.