Fashion: Stars earn their stripes

"Who needs a stylist?" peripheral Royal Zara Phillips asked in an interview recently. There's only one answer to that, Zara. But her younger cousin Princess Eugenie has been more successful in the sartorial stakes, and regularly steps out in Issa and Luella Bartley. She was snapped frolicking in Thailand last week in an itsy-bitsy, teeny-queeny, stars'n'stripes bikini – blissfully unaware of the coup going on in Bangkok, no doubt, and making some political statements of her own. One can only presume that not since George III's anger at losing the colonies has the American flag been so close to a member of the British monarchy's rear quarters.

It may be somewhat unpatriotic, but Eugenie has grasped that Old Glory is the flag waving in the fashion breezes right now. Imagine the unfortunate Ginger Spice parallels had the princess donned a Union Jack bikini. With the resurgence of Catherine Malandrino's flag dress, you've got a right royal, rootin', tootin' republic of a trend going on. Originally shown soon after 9/11 and worn by Julia Roberts and Halle Berry, the French designer's stars-and-stripes shirt-dress has been seen on the newly patriated Heidi Klum, and was part of the Barbie catwalk collection, which debuted in LA earlier this year.

Just remember: we're appreciating the flag as a concept, not as an emblem of authority. Geri Halliwell mixed up her flag dress with her admiration for that other well-to-do auburn dynamo, Margaret Thatcher. And Phil Spector wore a "Barack Obama Rocks" badge to hear his guilty verdict recently – which was a bit like the creepy kid at school trying out the latest trend and failing miserably.

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