'Just surreal': Calgary designer on Meghan Markle wearing one of her dresses
CALGARY - A fondness for Canadian fashion apparently hasn't waned for Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.
The former Toronto resident was photographed this morning wearing a sleeveless trench dress by the Calgary brand Nonie.
The new royal wore the tailored garment while attending the official opening of the Nelson Mandela Centenary Exhibition in London alongside her husband, Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry.
Fashion designer Nina Kharey said her public relations team alerted her in the wee hours of the morning by text, and then she saw the photos online.
"It's just surreal, I still can't believe it's actually happened," Kharey said when reached by phone a few hours later in Calgary.
"She looks stunning, stunning. I actually can't get over how good she looks in it. I've been trying to imagine what she would look like in it."
Kharey has never met Meghan but said the former "Suits" star requested the dress last November, before she was engaged. The tailored dress is part of her spring/summer 2018 collection and retails for $1,085.00. It's also available in black.
Meghan has long been a champion of Canadian fashion brands, dating back to her time living in Toronto to shoot the TV series "Suits."
Her Canuck favourites include the luxury outerwear brand Sentaler, Aritzia, Mackage, Birks and Reitmans.
Immediately after Meghan was photographed in Nonie, Kharey said she began sensing the impact of the famous "Meghan effect" -- the boost in publicity and product requests that typically come after the popular royal appears in public wearing a particular brand.
"My website has thousands of hits at the moment, which is a massive spike in our online presence. My Instagram is just exploding, I can't keep up."
All the attention comes just as Kharey turns her efforts towards breaking into the New York market and beyond.
"This is definitely a good step in the right direction, it's definitely going to get me the international eyes that I need at the moment," she said.
"Getting that royal stamp of approval is just huge.... It is tough doing this from Calgary but things like this, when the most famous woman in the world is wearing one of your dresses and looking amazing in it, it does wonders for a brand like mine."
The 35-year-old already has an impressive client list, including homegrown tastemakers Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, Jessica Mulroney and Chantal Kreviazuk.
But she wasn't always certain fashion was the right career path, even though she always loved clothes and notes the fashion business is in her blood.
Kharey's parents immigrated from Punjab, India in the 1970s, and her mother found work as seamstress for a menswear line and while her father managed a knits factory.
"They took me to work almost always and I just grew up with it. I learned how to sew from them, I saw the process in the factory and I just fell in love with the idea of something going from paper to something that you can wear."
Still, her parents dissuaded her from following in their footsteps, instead encouraging her to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Kharey ended up working as a computer engineer for several years while designing only as a hobby.
When her older brother was killed suddenly, she said the tragedy helped her refocus on her true passions: "That's what made me do this."
"This has brought me peace and it's made me feel complete," Kharey said of Nonie, also a nickname from her father that is widely used by friends and family.
"I can feel that this is something that (my brother) would have said: 'You've got to just do it."'
She started the company in 2012 while still working as a computer engineer, only quitting her day job in 2015 to focus on fashion full time.
Now she has a boutique in Calgary and is in talks with bigger department stores to expand her retail reach after focusing on online sales through www.houseofnonie.com.
Kharey said she's ready for whatever comes next.
"I just feel ready to step out into New York and into the international world," said Kharey.
Their Royal Highnesses arrive @southbankcentre and are met by Lord Peter Hain, Chair of The Nelson Mandela Centenary Committee and Elaine Bedell, Chief Executive of the Centre. pic.twitter.com/BfGxsnYLFq— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) July 17, 2018
The Duke and Duchess view some of the items in the exhibit, including the Robben Island Bible - which was actually a copy of Shakespeare plays disguised as a Bible. @Mandela100UK pic.twitter.com/EKyU8gYzbi— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) July 17, 2018
Their Royal Highnesses hear a performance from the Ubunye Choir, which is made up of people from the South African diaspora. pic.twitter.com/BwcEC1gN36— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) July 17, 2018
Their Royal Highnesses hear speeches and meet people celebrating the official opening of the exhibition that will launch two days ahead of @southbankcentre’s Africa Utopia festival. pic.twitter.com/f5ZvKpZXpx— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) July 17, 2018