Did New Age friend of the royals set up her best pal Meghan with Harry? ALISON BOSHOFF asks if fashion designer Misha Nonoo played cupid
- Fashion designer Misha Nonoo is thought to be Meghan Markle's closest friend
- The ?met some years ago after being seated next to one another at a Miami lunch
- In the summer of 2016, the friends spent three weeks traveling through London
- It's believed that while in Lonon, Nonoo introduced Miss Markle to Prince Harry?
Discreetly but impeccably well-connected, with a fondness for larky dinner parties that end at dawn, stunning little black jumpsuits and trendy Aperol cocktails, glamorous fashion designer Misha Nonoo is being billed as the woman who played cupid to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
In fact, the 31-year-old — who rather resembles the actress Gwyneth Paltrow — is probably Meghan's closest female friend. The two women met some years ago after being seated next to one another during a lunch in Miami, and became firm friends.
In the summer of 2016, they took a three-week holiday in Europe, encompassing London, Madrid, Mallorca and Formentera — along with a dishy executive from the Soho House group of private members' clubs, Markus Anderson.
Fashion designer Misha Nonoo, one of Meghan Markle's closests friends, is believed to have set the actress up with Prince Harry
Ms Nonoo, the ex wife of Harry’s friend, Alexander Gilkes, a pal of William and Harry’s from Eton, is said to have organised their blind date last year?
It is widely believed that Misha took the opportunity to connect Meghan and Prince Harry during that holiday because she had long been friends with Harry and Prince William via her then-husband, who was at Eton with them.
The newly engaged couple's first date is thought to have happened right at the end of July, at a private members' club in central London — either Soho House in Dean Street, or an establishment called 5 Hertford Street, Mayfair — shortly after Meghan had watched her friend Serena Williams play at Wimbledon.
This matchmaking role was apparently confirmed by Prince Harry in his televised interview on Monday, when he admitted it was a woman who suggested they meet.
He said: 'We were introduced by a mutual friend . . . it was literally . . . through her and then we met once and then twice back-to-back, two dates in London last July.'
Meghan said she had only one question for her friend when she suggested the date: 'Well, is he nice?'
That says something about the trust she held in the matchmaker — and indeed, they have come to regard themselves virtually as sisters, hence Misha's comment about Meghan: 'I love her to death. She is the coolest girl in the world. She has the most remarkable and generous spirit.'
Both women are only children who have lived far from home for much of their adult lives — Meghan relocated from California to Toronto to film the TV series Suits, Misha from London to New York to found her fashion business.
Misha (pictured with Miss Markle) is also a mutual friend of both the prince and Meghan, adding to the theory that she brought the pair together?
Both are divorcees who are crazy about their dogs — Meghan has Bogart and Guy, a beagle and a labrador-cross, Misha has a 'cavapoo' (a cross between a poodle and a Cavalier King Charles spaniel) called Margaret Thatcher.
They are both also 'foodies' obsessed with clothes who love to tell the world about their every adventure on their oh-so-swanky social media feeds (though Meghan has mothballed her Instagram account and closed her own website).
Both have a slightly Californian approach to health — swearing by yoga, meditation and the calming process of 'mindfulness'.
Misha told an interviewer: 'I'm very spiritual, I meditate twice a day and I love gong baths and sound healing.'
For those of us who are a little less enlightened, 'gong meditation' sees devotees lying out in a yoga studio while being bathed in the sound of a beaten gong. It has been practised for thousands of years and is said to aid stress reduction.
Meghan, meanwhile, is a fan of Pilates and calls running her 'moving meditation'.
Talking about that holiday to Europe during which she met Harry, she said on her now-closed internet site that she tried to 'eat everything, pray (and meditate) often, and simply love my life, every ounce of it'.
For now, it has to be said that Misha Nonoo probably has the edge in social connections since she is pals with celebrities including Madonna, the rapper Jay-Z and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. But that is presumably about to change. However, she and Meghan are as close as siblings. When Misha posted a picture of the pair giggling over drinks in Madrid last summer, she captioned it: 'When only children find sisters.'
In the summer of 2016, Miss Markle and Miss Nonoo took a three-week holiday in Europe, encompassing London, Madrid, Mallorca and Formentera — along with a dishy executive from the Soho House group of private members' clubs, Markus Anderson (centre)
It is widely believed that Misha took the opportunity to connect Meghan and Prince Harry during their European holiday. Meghan and Misha are pictured above during their holiday with Markus Anderson (centre)?
Like Meghan, Misha is discreet, which means she is trusted implicitly. Asked in an interview this year to confirm that it was her who made the introduction to Harry, she said: 'I really can't answer that.'
Meghan returned the compliment during that TV interview on Monday, saying: 'We should protect her privacy and not reveal too much of that,' when talking about the introduction.
So, who is Misha Nonoo? Born in Bahrain, her father is an Iraqi businessman, her mother is English.
The family moved to the UK when she was 11 and she attended the ACS International school in Cobham (where full boarding and tuition fees are now a stonking ￡45,560 a year).
She then spent two years in Paris, before taking a job in a small tailoring firm in New York.
She has said that she wanted to be a clothes designer since she was 11 years old. Within ten years, she had achieved that ambition via a fashion collection — initially only of jackets and coats.
A few seasons later, she had been dubbed 'one to watch' in New York, with Gossip Girl star Blake Lively wearing her clothes in Vogue magazine, and actress Kirsten Dunst being an early fan.
Influential stylist Olivia Palermo has championed her, and happily Palermo is also a pal of Meghan's.
Nonoo's fashion label is going from strength to strength since Meghan and Harry got together. It received a huge boost when Meghan chose to wear the baggy white 'Husband' shirt from the label to the Invictus Games in September — her first public appearance at Harry's side (pictured above)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement on Monday and later posed for photos in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace?
Nonoo's stellar social profile in New York did her professional success no harm, and this was partly founded on her marriage to Old Etonian Alexander Gilkes.
He rose from beginnings at the luxury concierge service Quintessentially to work for the LVMH luxury goods group, before moving into art and auctions.
Misha's 2012 wedding to Gilkes, the son of a wealthy dermatologist, was a three-day bash in a 16th-century castle in Venice, with a live performance by singer Lana Del Rey.
Given that Meghan said this week that she knew almost nothing about Prince Harry before she met him, it's interesting to note that Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice attended the Gilkes-Nonoo wedding in 2012.
Not only that, Meghan's 'sister' Misha also went to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton the year before. So it's not as though Meghan was entirely a stranger to the young royal set.
And in the summer of 2012, Gilkes hosted Pippa Middleton at the couple's Manhattan townhouse when she was on a trip to the city.
All of the Middletons are pals with Gilkes — his nightclub entrepreneur brother Charlie once dated Pippa. Also, in 2013, Gilkes employed Princess Eugenie at his New York-based art auction house, Paddle8.
The happy couple's wedding will take place at St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle in May because it is a place 'close to the couple's hearts', it was revealed on Tuesday
The couple chose the 'very special' venue because the prince and his fiancee spent time there together during their 16-month romance and Harry was based in the town with his Army regiment, the Blues and Royals
Eugenie and Misha became chums, and the Princess is a regular at her Fashion Week parties.
Last year, Misha posted a picture of herself in Windsor Great Park with Eugenie and her sister Princess Beatrice. Gilkes is also close to actor Eddie Redmayne — they were at Eton together — and they celebrated at a Vanity Fair party in 2015, the year Redmayne won an Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything.
Ironically, having apparently set up Harry and Meghan, Misha found her own relationship falling apart. She and Gilkes split in October 2016, with reports suggesting their mutual ambitions were to blame. The divorce was finalised this summer.
Now, Nonoo's fashion label is going from strength to strength.
It received a huge boost when Meghan chose to wear the baggy white 'Husband' shirt from the label to the Invictus Games in September — her first public appearance at Harry's side.
Misha said: 'It was a beautiful surprise and I was touched. The exposure has been incredible.'
Misha's style, which is predominantly white and black with pared-down, unfussy lines, is very much in tune with Meghan's.
And she says her ultimate style icon is Grace Kelly — another actress who became a princess.
It's enough to make you wonder if the Misha Nonoo label is already making sketches for a very special wedding dress indeed.
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