Meghan Markle Shares Why She Wore a Red Dress in Nigeria, Ending Her Streak of Quiet Luxury Neutrals

The Orire design is a break from her usual personal style.

Meghan Markle wears a red dress with thin straps by Orire while onstage at a Women in Leadership panel
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The moment Meghan Markle greeted an audience of fifty women in Nigerian politics, culture, and philanthropy for a Women in Leadership panel on Saturday, May 11, a shift in her Nigeria tour wardrobe was obvious. After sticking to a quiet luxury agenda in minimalist neutrals by Altuzarra, St. Agni, Heidi Merrick, and Johanna Ortiz throughout her packed schedule, Markle had instead opted for a bright red midi dress with a dramatic, sculptural hem.

The Duchess of Sussex explained her decision to wear a red dress by rising Nigerian designer Orire in her conversation with media executive Mo Abudu and World Trade Organization director-general Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. As it turns out, she was using color to get closer to her Nigerian heritage.

Meghan Markle onstage in a women in leadership Nigeria panel

Meghan Markle spoke on the Women in Leadership Nigeria panel in a bright red dress by Orire, featuring a sculptural, wavy hemline.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

According to reports by People and Hello, Markle responded to a question about uncovering her Nigerian lineage with a reference to her wardrobe choices for the trip. "It has been a whirlwind 24 hours since we arrived," Markle said, "and I very quickly got the memo that I need to wear more color so I can fit in with all of you in your incredible fashion!"

Markle also explained in detail what it was like discovering she is 43 percent Nigerian through a genealogy test and discussing the knowledge with her mother. "Being African-American, part of it is really not knowing so much about your lineage or background, where you come from specifically," Markle said. "And it was exciting for both of us to discover more and understand what that really means.”

Meghan Markle onstage at a Women in Leadership Nigeria panel

Onstage, Markle discussed discovering her Nigerian heritage and her experience so far visiting the country with Prince Harry.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Markle's red dress also shows her knack for studying the place she's traveling and choosing her designers accordingly. She embraced diplomatic dressing during her working royal style era, selecting clothing and accessories for official visits that had ties to the place she visited or the causes she promoted. Orire, who designed Saturday's red midi, is a women-led brand based in Lagos, Nigeria—a poignant choice for Markle's first visit. The brand plays with structure and texture through exaggerated ruffle details, and specializes in bright, energetic colors. (Its website also crashed following the news that Markle had worn one of its designs.)

Orire's pieces are available in the United States through Nordstrom, Free People, and Shopbop. Knowing how Markle will re-wear designers she really loves—like St. Agni and Heidi Merrick, two labels with repeat credits in her closet—she'll likely lean on this poignant brand again in the future.

Markle's first visit to Nigeria will conclude on Sunday, May 12, with another day full of meaningful activities and outfits.

Shop More Dresses by Meghan Markle-Approved Label Orire

Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior fashion and beauty news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories for both sections. Halie is an expert on runway trends, celebrity style, emerging fashion and beauty brands, and shopping (naturally). In over seven years as a professional journalist, Halie’s reporting has ranged from fashion week coverage spanning the Copenhagen, New York, Milan, and Paris markets, to profiles on industry insiders including stylist Alison Bornstein and J.Crew womenswear creative director Olympia Gayot, to breaking news stories on noteworthy brand collaborations and beauty launches. (She can personally confirm that Bella Hadid’s Ôrebella perfume is worth the hype.) She has also written dozens of research-backed shopping guides to finding the best tote bags, ballet flats, and more. Most of all, Halie loves to explore what trends—like the rise of doll-like Mary Janes or TikTok’s 75 Hard Style Challenge—can say about culture writ large. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held writer and editor roles at Glamour, Morning Brew, and Harper’s Bazaar. Halie has been cited as a fashion and beauty expert in The Cut, CNN Underscored, and Reuters, among other outlets, and appears in newsletters like Selleb and Self-Checkout to provide shopping recommendations. In 2022, she was awarded the Hearst Spotlight Award for excellence and innovation in fashion journalism. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. Outside of work, Halie is passionate about books, baking, and her miniature Bernedoodle, Dolly. For a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting, you can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.