Spanish designers chosen to dress youngest British royals

The Local speaks to the designer behind Princess Charlotte’s retro look and why it is proving a boon for Spanish clothing sales.

Spanish designers chosen to dress youngest British royals
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and young royals Cropped photo: Annie Leibovitz

Sitting on her great-grandmother’s knee, the youngest of the Queen’s descendants beamed a gummy grin in the official portrait released to mark the monarch’s 90th birthday.

Princess Charlotte, the youngest Windsor at two weeks shy of her first birthday,  was dressed immaculately in a retro-style floral pattern smock and bloomers by Spanish brand M&H.

“We were surprised but very very proud,” Margarita Pato, the woman behind the boutique brand told The Local on Friday.

“Not only did she look absolutely beautiful in the portrait by Annie Leibovitz but for our outfit to be chosen for such an historic photo is a real honour.”

In fact, it was the second time that the youngest child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has been photographed in an M&H dress.

The infant was photographed in a very similar outfit for a set of portraits taken at Kensington Palace last October, when the dress was again teamed with a pale pink cardigan and tights.

Princess Charlotte photographed in an M&H dress last November. Photo: Kensington Palace

So how did Kate come to discover a small family run boutique brand of children’s clothing that only has outlets in Spain?

“We haven’t had any contact with the family but we think that they discovered our clothes through their nanny, who is Spanish, and who may have bought items here and taken them back for her charge,” explained Pato over the phone from Bilbao.

M&H is a brand that only began trading six years ago. Run by Margarita and her son and daughter, the family from Bilbao opened their first boutique in Valladolid before expanding to five branches in cities across Spain.

“Since the princess was first photographed in one of our outfits we have had enormous interest from abroad,” said Pato. “The princess effect has brought in a lot of calls from the UK and America.”

The firm is working on a website that will hopefully be up and running next month so they can more easily facilitate international sales.

Both dresses worn by Princess Charlotte have now sold out. Photo: M&H

M&H isn’t the only Spanish brand that has benefited from the free publicity.  Prince George has twice been photographed in knitwear by Spanish childrenswear designer Fina Ejerique.

Both the cardigan he is wearing in the Queen’s birthday portrait and the jumper sported in the family Christmas card last year, teamed with the shorts, socks and Start-Rite sandals, were Fina Ejerique designs.

But what is it about the Spanish brands that is winning over the Duchess of Cambridge?

“The Spanish are very traditional when it comes to dressing their babies and their children,” explained Pato. “They tend to choose good quality garments in very traditional cuts that are inspired by classic British style. The clothes we make are very like the clothes we were dressed in as children decades ago.

“We update the look using contemporary patterns but maintain the classic style and bring the price tag very much into the 21st century. Our philosophy is not to have an outfit with a price tag over €30,” she said.

The dresses worn by Princess Charlotte were both from the 2015 Autumn / Winter collection and had a price tag of €29.95.

“It’s an amazing thing for us and for the reputation of Spain to be worn by the young royals,” Pato concluded.

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17 babies in Spain develop ‘werewolf syndrome’ after drugs mix-up

Spanish health officials have confirmed that 17 new born babies have been diagnosed with so-called "werewolf syndrome" after taking contaminated medication.

17 babies in Spain develop 'werewolf syndrome' after drugs mix-up
Archive image of a case of hypertrichosis, recorded in 1888: By W & D Downey /

The Spanish Agency of Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) confirmed that the infants developed the rare syndrome hypertrichosis – which is commonly called “werewolf sundrome because it causes excess hair over the body – after being given mislabelled drugs to treat colic.  

The infants were given a preparation of omeprazole, a drug used to treat minor stomach discomfort but the batch was contaminated with minoxidil, a medication for alopecia, according to a statement from AEMPS, which is part of Spain’s Ministry of Health.

A new case was diagnosed on Tuesday bringing the total number of babies with the condition to 17. Ten babies have been affected in Cantabria, four in Andalusia and three in the Valencian region.

“Suddenly my son started growing hair on his forehead, his cheeks, his arms and his legs, even his hands and he developed the eyebrows of a grown man,” Angela Selles, a mother from Granada told El Pais after her son, Uriel, was diagnosed at six-months old.

“It was scary because we didn’t know what was happening to him.”

But health chiefs emphasised that the condition faded after the children stopped the contaminated drugs, although it could take months for the excess hair to fall out naturally.

The mix-up was traced to the Farma-Química Sur pharmaceutical plant in Málaga, where the drug were mislabelled when they were repackaged for distribution in Spain.

The factory is now closed due to “serious breaches detected in drug control standards”, reported El Pais.

Parents who have a preparation for babies containing omeprazole that was bought in Spain should visit their pharmacy to check it is not from a contaminated batch.

Health chiefs advise anyone who notices excessive hair growth after using the drug should visit a doctor, they said.