If you think a lot of models look like Meghan Markle these days, you’re not wrong. It seems brands are cashing in on her spotlight by casting models that bear a striking resemblance to the future royal.
Perfectly timed, plus-size retailer Simply Be just launched a bridal line, and the model it used is the spitting image of a certain royal bride-to-be. Erica Lauren is a plus size model with the features of Markle. Lauren — who, like the Suits star, is from California — modeled a variety of bridal styles for Simply Be — from a lace gown to a beaded jumpsuit. Even her hairstyle looks Markle-approved.
Simply Be wasn’t originally looking for a Markle lookalike. “Not at first, but when the opportunity fell in our laps, we ran with it,” Arieta Mujay, head of global communications for Simply Be, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Being a proud British brand, we understand the buzz around a royal wedding.” And by opportunity, she means Lauren. “The resemblance was obvious at first sight, so that was a factor in casting her for the shoot, however the main reason is that she is a real curvy girl and a fantastic model.”
It seems the stunt is paying off. “The reception has been positive so far with a lot of interest,” Mujay says.
Simply Be isn’t the only brand taking advantage of this moment. Lingerie company Yandy has put together a collection for Markle (as in, it’s royal wedding themed), and the models all share some of her features. Yandy is “offering to send Meghan Markle $5,000.00 worth of lingerie for her bridal trousseau prior to the Royal Wedding next month,” the company wrote in an email campaign. “The American-based company has put together a selection of elegant, yet sultry looks for the bride-to-be’s wedding night, honeymoon, and beyond… Although the Queen may not approve, do you think the bride-to-be will bite the bullet and accept? Please share & help us find out!”
Lookalikes are being cast left and right. “It’s actually interesting that you bring that up,” says winner of a Markle lookalike contest Lukwesa Morin when Yahoo Lifestyle asked her about getting cast in fashion campaigns. “I got approached by the casting agent that held the contest, and I will soon be doing a bridal photoshoot with them in California. It will be in the upcoming weeks before the wedding.”
This tactic of casting models that look like trending public figures is nothing new. In fact, brands used Kate Middleton’s likeness, too, ahead of her big day. Lingerie manufacturer Agent Provocateur launched a bridal lingerie campaign featuring a duchess lookalike in 2011. “OMG, this is what Kate could look like on her wedding night, squeal!!” a royal fan commented on that campaign.
“Americans have always been fascinated with the British royal family,” Lauren’s agent, Natalie Haddad from TNG Models, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “To see an American woman marrying into the royal family has resonated with our country.”
“Markle represents the changing face of an American woman,” Haddad says. “Aside from her beauty, she’s multiracial, a working professional, well spoken and entering into her second marriage. Women can relate to her, which is why I believe her look is so popular. Before her engagement announcement, I saw a large push in requests for multiethnic and ethnically ambiguous models, which started around the time the Kardashians became popular.”
She does admit that with a trending public figure comes the request for lookalikes. “There is a strong correlation between pop culture and the fashion industry. We tend to see that one strongly influences the other,” Haddad says. “We have seen a surge in models who resemble Markle since her engagement to Prince Harry was announced. This isn’t uncommon in our industry. Typically when a celebrity or new ‘it’ girl gains a lot of media coverage, we see the request for their look reflected in our bookings.”
It’s not just a royal thing: Remember when Old Navy cast a Kim Kardashian lookalike in a very influencer-friendly campaign in 2011? Lookalikes, quite frankly, are very good for business.
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