By now, we're more than familiar with the power of the Meghan Markle effect — it’s led people to blog about her outfits for a living, and caused countless pieces to sell out. With each public appearance, everyone is watching to see (besides whether she and Prince Harry will show a little PDA) what The Duchess of Sussex
does wears next. And lately, we’re willing to bet it will include a bateau neckline.
The silhouette first made an appearance with her wedding dress, a custom Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy gown. Weeks later, she wore similar-style dresses back-to-back, first with an olive green Ralph Lauren look to her nephew-in-law Prince Louis’ royal christening on Sunday, second with a black Dior piece to the 100th anniversary celebration of the Royal Air Force on Monday. As to be expected, the visibility Markle is giving this particular neckline, which is traditionally reserved for wedding gowns, is going viral. Glamour is reporting searches for 'bateau necklines' increased by 104% since 2017, while searches on eBay jumped up 830% from last November to June 2018.
But the history of the silhouette runs deeper than the Royal Wedding. The neckline was made famous in the 1930s when Coco Chanel, who was inspired by the wide necklines on sailor suits, first introduced it on the runway; Isabel Alston and Kathryn Dixon note the creation in their book Coco Chanel, writing, “the vacationers in Biarritz, just as in Deauville, snatched up Chanel’s jersey jackets, skirts, and striped boat-neck shirts, reminiscent of those sailors wore.” Yet despite its association with Chanel, rumor has it the neckline was originally a signature of forgotten French designer Jenny Sacerdote.
Three decades after Chanel popularized the look, the neckline went more mainstream when Hubert de Givenchy designed what would become the ultimate LBD for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hepburn later wore a similar dress, also designed Givenchy, in the 1954 movie, Sabrina, leading the boat neck to also earn the moniker the 'Sabrina neckline.'