Before Meghan Markle: Meet Another American Star Turned British Aristocrat

Over the past year, the world has been fascinated by Meghan Markle’s transformation from American starlet to British aristocrat. But she was hardly the first to make that leap.

For his fall ’18 collection, designer Erdem Moralioglu’s muse was Adele Astaire, the elder sister of Fred Astaire. A former showgirl from Scottsdale, Ariz., she married Lord Charles Cavendish, second son of the Duke of Devonshire, in 1932.

Adele Astaire
Adele Astaire, circa 1915-1919
CREDIT: Public domain
meghan markle, oscar de la renta, aquazzura, wedding, prince harry cousin, princess diana
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at his cousin’s wedding.
CREDIT: Splash News

“She had been performing in London, and it was there where the duke was in the audience and fell in love with her,” said Moralioglu. Astaire gave up her career after their marriage, and the couple went on to live in Ireland’s remote Lismore Castle.

Adele Fred Astaire Lord Cavendish
(L-R): Fred Astaire, Adele Astaire, Lord Charles Cavendish
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock
Lismore Castle
Lismore Castle in Ireland
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

Moralioglu first heard about Astaire when he attended a wedding at the manor. “I was totally intrigued,” said the Canadian designer. “She was a strong, independent woman who gave up everything for love. She married into a very formal aristocratic family when it wasn’t the done thing to be a career woman.” Parallels abound with the union of Prince Harry and former “Suits” actress Markle. Moralioglu explained of his fall collection, “I imagined [Adele] roaming the moors wearing brogues with her spangled vaudeville dresses, and it was that kind of contrast that I loved.”

Adele Fred Astaire
Adele and Fred Astaire in 1928
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock
Adele Astaire
Adele Astaire, circa 1900
CREDIT: Public domain

That thematic juxtaposition played out in the collection’s floral jacquards, mannish tweeds, androgynous brogues and 1920s kitten heels. And the offerings come paired with spotted stockings, another reference to Astaire, who was a fan of the polka — both the dance and the dot.

Erdem jacquard mule for fall ’18.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand
Erdem heel for fall ’18.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

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