Retailer L.K. Bennett gets a boost from ‘Duchess effect’ in the U.S.

In a single year, London-based retailer L.K. Bennett opened four free-standing stores in the U.S., including a shop in Phipps Plaza. Though the 22-year-old brand has not been well-known stateside, all of that has changed thanks, in part, to the “duchess effect.”

That would be a reference to the Duchess of Cambridge, aka the former Kate Middleton. The term “duchess effect” has come to signify the global sellout of clothing and accessories within hours after the wife of Prince William is photographed wearing them.

When the duchess wore L.K. Bennett’s Sledge heel in taupe leather to a June derby race, royal style watchers monitored the shoe’s selling out, being restocked and selling out again at various retailers, including L.K. Bennett’s website. The red Ami coat she wore in November to a UNICEF event was breathlessly tracked down by Kate style bloggers and noted to be on sale at the time, priced at $440 from $550.

Founded in 1990 by designer Linda K. Bennett, the company goal was to epitomize English fashion. It began as a footwear brand, but in 1998 expanded to women’s wear. Now the company is known as much for its tailored suits and shift dresses as for its stylish yet sensible footwear. While the company doesn’t shy away from its royal appeal (representatives are often asked to confirm the origin of the duchess’ outfits), it also remains firmly rooted in the style of everyday women.

To illustrate the connection to real women, the “Life Is the Occasion” advertising campaign launched in 2010 features real customers modeling the season’s best looks.

For spring/summer 2012, that includes everything from the safari-inspired Amanda dress, $275, to the fitted Laurie denim jeans, $185, and Angel wool mix jacket, $395.

The strappy suede Hebe with gold cork wedge heels, $425, is sure to be a favorite this season, as will the Nadina snake print leather heels, $365. Bags range from the roomy and unstructured Jay suede bag, $525, to the trim and sleek Arum woven leather clutch, $295.

Style asked L.K. Bennett at Phipps Plaza to create a few duchess-inspired looks for spring that are well-suited to Atlanta women.

The result, a selection of effortlessly chic looks, will help any woman dress, and feel, like a duchess.

RESOURCES

• Barnsley Gardens, 597 Barnsley Gardens Road N.W., Adairsville. 770-773-7480, www.barnsleyresort.com.

• Drybar (hair), 102 W. Paces Ferry Road N.W., Suite B, Atlanta. 404-382-5310, www.thedrybar.com.

• L.K. Bennett, Phipps Plaza, 3500 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-991-5850, www.lkbennett.com.

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