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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Fashion designer Misha Nonoo says that the drive to empower women by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has been a focus of her good friend long before she became royalty.

The designer gave some insight into working with the former Meghan Markle for a clothing collection created to help women in need and also spoke about criticism the duchess has faced in an exclusive interview with Keir Simmons on TODAY Friday.

Nonoo designed the popular white blouse that is part of Meghan's limited-edition Smart Set capsule collection that benefits Smart Works, a charity that helps unemployed women find professional clothing for job interviews.

Fashion designer Misha Nonoo says that empowering women has long been a focus for her good friend Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Getty Images

"I think that is something that her and I bonded over from the very early days of our relationship was that she genuinely seeks to help people,'' Nonoo said. "It comes from a place deep within her where she really wants to make people's lives better."

The duchess didn't just lend her name and popularity to the collection, either.

"She's the consummate professional, and she's been extremely hands-on in the project, and it's something that she's really passionate about,'' Nonoo said.

Nonoo also designed the white poplin shirt that Meghan wore to Prince Harry's Invictus Games in her first public outing in 2017 with her future husband.

"She looked beautiful and relaxed and comfortable, and I think it's really essentially who she is,'' Nonoo said.

It's also been rumored that Nonoo helped Harry and Meghan meet.

"No comment," she said while laughing.

Nonoo also addressed some of the intense scrutiny and criticism her friend has faced since becoming royalty last year, whether it's been the way she holds her baby son, Archie, her treatment by the tabloids over her relationship with her estranged father, being called "nasty" by President Trump, or getting flak with Harry for the environmental impact of traveling on a private jet for a family vacation.

"I think it's unjust, and I think that people should really focus on the good work they do,'' Nonoo said. "A good example of that is this is her first official engagement after having had her baby, (and) it's all about empowering women, all about what she has essentially always sought to do."

Next up for the royal couple is a tour of southern Africa later this month in their first official trip with Archie. The tour kicks off Sept. 23 with the family visiting Cape Town, South Africa.

"When she goes to Africa with Prince Harry and their new little one, she is going to do some events there on empowering women,'' Nonoo said. "She's really interested in empowering women around the world."