Love Island is back on our screens in a new location and with a new host, and her wardrobe has already caused a stir on social media.
Since joining the ITV2 reality TV programme, Laura Whitmore has been praised for her “natural” and “engaging” demeanour, with fans describing her as the “perfect” replacement for Caroline Flack, who stepped down in December after she was charged with assault.
But being the host of Love Island is about much more than simply presenting a TV show.
With millions of viewers around the world, the programme offers an unrivalled platform – 2.9 million people tuned in to watch the first episode of this series alone – meaning every detail, from the water bottles to the wardrobes, garners attention.
In previous years, Flack’s outfits were known to sell out within minutes of her wearing them on screen.
Notable ensembles included the denim sweetheart-neckline dress by Christopher Kane that she wore for the first episode of the last series and the sweeping fuchsia halter-neck gown by Essentiel Antwerp that she wore in one of the final episodes.
Now, it looks like Whitmore’s style choices are already having a similar impact.
For the first episode of the series, the 34-year-old Irish presenter wore a jacquard floral playsuit by luxury womenswear brand Hasan Hejazi.
The playsuit featured a belted waist, plunging neckline and ruffled sleeves. Within hours of the episode airing, the brand revealed the playsuit had sold out.
Smith has a penchant for crafting sell-out looks and is credited for turning Holly Willoughby into the sartorial hot ticket she has become, with many of her This Morning looks prompting major sales spikes.
For Love Island, Smith says she plans to champion pastel shades and patterns in keeping with the show’s playful tone and Cape Town location, where daily temperatures reach 29 Celsius.
“Laura is a real style chameleon and loves colour and tailoring,” Smith tells The Independent. “But for the show, we’ve opted for lighter hues and more summery styles.”
In terms of inspiration, Smith explains that she tends to dress Whitmore in looks modelled on the style icons of the 1960s or 1970s.
“I love Annie Hall, Jane Birkin and Bridget Bardot as references for Laura,” she says.
But the process is very much collaborative. “Laura has such a great sense of natural style so it’s always a real partnership,” Smith explains.
“We always have a chat before each project we work on together and then I go away and put together a mood board of how I’ve interpreted Laura’s ideas.”
In terms of brands, Whitmore has already showcased an eclectic mix of looks. She wore a summer-ready pastel pink jumpsuit by Zimmerman for promotional photos but then chose a grungier aesthetic for the first Love Island: After Sun show – which airs on Mondays after the main programme – in which she wore a structured leather mini dress from The Mighty Company.
Smith paired the dress with black stilettos from Saint Laurent.
While Whitmore favours some designer labels, such as Chrisopher Kane, the majority of her wardrobe is sourced from mid-range brands.
Smith primarily relies on a mix of luxe bohemian labels, including Anthropologie and Free People, and minimalistic French brands, such as Maje, Claudie Pierlot and Sandro.
There are some lesser-known names, too, like Dublin-based designers Joanne Hynes and Natalie B Coleman, whose hero product is a sweatshirt with “Sisters” written across it.
Unlike the Love Island contestants – who favour fast-fashion brands both on and off the show, when many are offered lucrative deals with brands like Missguided and Boohoo – Whitmore will wear sustainably sourced items on the show.
Those Saint Laurent stilettos, for example, were purchased from a second-hand shop.
“I love looking through vintage stores for clients and we regularly call in clothes from environmentally friendly brands,” Smith says.
For Whitmore’s Love Island wardrobe, Smith will also be making the most of the burgeoning fashion rental sector, whereby shoppers can loan designer items for a fraction of the price.
“Sites like these have a great approach to promoting pre-loved items,” says Smith. "They're becoming increasingly popular, too, particularly among eco-conscious fashion influencers like Venetia Falconer and Niomi Smart.
"Let's hope it's only a matter of time until the Love Island contestants follow in their sustainable footsteps."