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[Update] Day 4: Kate in Green Dolce Dress

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The word came "across the wire" that Kate was wearing green Dolce & Gabanna and my heart froze. Not another lace Dolce, I thought. Sorry, Kate. I am the first to gravitate toward the lace, but I have put myself on a lace hiatus and I think you should be on one, too. Happily, when the princess stepped out of the plane that had flown her from Victoria to Kelowna, and started down the steps to the tarmac, it was not in a lace ensemble, rather it was a retro-styled midi dress inspired by Alice in Wonderland!

UBC Twitter
The couple were quickly whisked to University of British Columbia where they were warmly welcomed by students, staff, and representatives from the local indigenous tribes. 

The dress is relatively fitted through the hips with just a slight flare. It looks like it stepped off the set of Foyle's War and right onto Kate. 

After the two unveiled a plaque they walked to the nearby stadium where the women's volleyball team was ready to play ball. The place was packed with very excited Generations Zs. I think that Kate is such a fantastic role model for young women, so I really enjoy when we see her interacting with them. The energy in the building to welcome the royal couple was certainly strong.

They even got an athlete's entrance, with their heights announced over the loudspeaker:

Watching Kate chatting with her hosts I was very impressed by her delightful and cheerful demeanor. She really looked lovely and thoughtful without a whisper of boredom or unease. She does like to twist that ring, though. :)

The couple didn't stay that long. They met the players, were presented with personalized jerseys and teddies for the kiddos, and they left. The exit was epic--they walked up a staircase lined with fangirling young people with their phones out. Celebrity status on steroids:

Let's talk about the dress. It is inspired by Alice in Wonderland and is called the Pocket Watch Midi, because, get this, it has a massive pocket watch appliqué on it. Are you just staring at the screen right now while your brain furiously tries to function? Sometimes, fashion really surprises me.

I almost wish that Kate had worn it as designed, rather than having the watch taken off, but I think it would have left everyone more perplexed than Alice was in Wonderland.

UBC Twitter

Reader Meghan on Twitter actually messaged me suggesting this would be the dress Kate wore before we even had seen Kate in the dress, so major props on calling that, Meghan. I know Meghan is disappointed that the watch wasn't worn, but she might have reasons other than mine for her disappointment. I'm not sure. What do you all think? Would this have just left your jaw on the floor? I feel like it would have been too quirky and left all of Kelowna scratching their heads.

Kensington Royal

Anyway, this is just a preliminary update, because the Cambridge's are at a winery right now and still have to fly off to the Yukon, so we have a whiles to go today. Literally and figuratively...  I you need the exact details on what she is wearing, it is all on Kate's Clothes here.

Day 3: Brollys Up! Bella Bella & Great Bear Rainforest

Monday, September 26, 2016

The weather hasn't behaved for the Cambridges recently. At the start of September, their day trip to the Scilly Isles was rearranged because of heavy fog. Today, (Monday, Day 3) the schedule was supposed to start with a float plane tour of the Great Bear Rainforest, but it was cancelled due to torrential rain. Instead, the first event of the day was the Traditional First Nations Welcome. The Cambridges arrived in Bella Bella dressed down and carrying clear umbrellas as they made their way to community centre where a large crowd had gathered to say hello.

Upon arrival, the couple proved that even royals can go to the wrong door.

Kensington Palace Twitter

Kate shed her coat inside the hall, which was absolutely packed. A good move on her part, since she was shortly after gifted ceremonial shawl. According to Emily Andrews, these are "dancing shawls." 

I didn't follow this event live, so I am a bit foggy on the timeline, but subsequently (I think) she ended up with a vest, instead.

One of your compatriots here on the blog was at the community centre and got to watch the royal duo interact and even got a chance to chat with Kate and gift her a children's book toward the end of their stop. This was Haley Hooyenga, the same Haley who saw them at Jack Poole on Sunday. We all need to ask Haley to sprinkle some of her lucky pixie dust on us, because seeing Kate live two days in a row? Who gets to do that? Haley, you are one lucky lady, thank you for sharing your snaps with us!

Haley Hooyenga

I know we like first hand accounts. This was Haley's message to me:
I had an invite to the event at the Bella Bella Community Center today. It was amazing to be in Catherine and Williams presence for so long. So much better than yesterday (which was fun, but really they just zoomed by, although we were close!).
Today I got to watch them interact etc. I also made a beeline for Kate when they were leaving the Community Center and was able to give her my second book (for the kids) and have a quick exchange with her. I spoke to Catherine!! 
Next on the agenda was a stop at Elders Lodge where Prince William gave a brief address to mark the introduction of the Great Bear Rainforest into the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy, a conservation initiative that spans 53 nations! The couple unveiled a plaque within the forest:

Crown in Canada
William and Kate took a stroll down the boardwalk, which reminded me of their trip to the Sabah rainforest on tour in 2012. Both were September tours, although today's rainforest boasts a different climate and certainly the weather was a little chillier than the humidity of Southeast Asia.

Kensington Palace Twitter
In Australia we were introduced to glamping (glamorous camping) and I just want to know what glamorous hiking would be... Whatever the word, these two have it nailed.

Rhianna Schmunk Twitter

Fashion! This tour the Cambridge uniform appears to be blue sweaters over buttoned shirts in complementing hues. George kicked it off at the airport on Saturday, and William and Kate continued the trend today. I love it. I am entirely onboard with this look. It is preppy and polished.

The Duchess paired a gingham Topshop blouse with an unidentified sweater. From hi-res images, the sweater looks like a light weight cashmere to me. Kate put a Holland & Holland "Multi-Pocket Safari" jacket over the sweater and blouse and completed the outfit with Penelope Chilvers boots and new earrings.

The earrings are by a new designer in Kate's closet, Pippa Small. Kate's "Kite" earrings are of Bolivian 18k gold and retail at £1,200. Net-a-Porter describes the brand:
Canadian-born jewelry designer Pippa Small has established a cult following with her striking organic necklaces, rings and earrings. Each covetable piece is designed in London and crafted in Rajasthan, India, by a team of highly skilled goldsmiths and stonecutters.
Fashion verdict: I love casual Kate, as you all know. I didn't love the safari jacket. She is slim enough and it hit her waist at the right place, but I think the safari style is really limited and don't love it. To me, there are very few scenarios in which you can wear this without looking like you are playing dress up or channeling Teddy Roosevelt. Kate pulled it off, but I don't think we'll see this again and that will be ok with me. The rest was perfect. She looked fit and glowing. It was a hit for me.

Crown in Canada

A very interesting fashion update today. It has been confirmed that the lace dress Kate wore to the Somme commemorations was in fact Jenny Packham, not Sarah Burton and McQueen. When you compare that lace dress to Saturday's arrival dress it is obviously a uniform style scheme. Both here dresses are really out of Jenny Packham usual design profile for Kate. It is very interesting to see these two collaborating on new structures and silhouettes.

The Duke and Duchess had one more event, an evening reception. Find that update here.

Day 3: Kate Wears Preen to Cocktail Reception

Kate is always beautiful and Kate's clothes are almost always commensurate, but every now and again Kate stuns even the most enthusiastic fan. At the cocktail reception on Day 3 of #RoyalVisitCanada 2016, the Duchess of Cambridge was nothing short of breathtaking. This elegant cocktail dress is by British label Preen and a magnificent debut for the designers. [If you missed the post on Kate's morning in Bella Bella, you can read it here.]

The reception gathered members of government together to mingle with the Cambridges and celebrate William adding a fourth ring to British Columbia's "Black Rod."

The Crown in Canada
The Black Rod is a British ceremonial symbol carried by an officer of Parliament, "The Gentleman of the Black Rod," who has certain official duties. The role dates back to the Middle Ages and includes maintaining Parliament's buildings and security. You will see the Black Rod at the opening of Parliament, at the Order of the Garter Ceremony, and the like. Commonwealth countries that adopted the British system also have Black Rods. Those would be the major Commonwealth nations like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. British Columbia's Black Rod has three rings symbolizing the province, Canada, and the connection the province has to the United Kingdom. William added a fourth ring to symbolize the indigenous tribes and the peace that now exists between them and the government.

Kensington Palace Twitter

I feel a little guilty saying that my expectations for tonight's ensemble were not high, or perhaps put better, not exceptional. Kate has attended more than a few cocktail events on tour and she has generally chosen relatively understated pieces. Sophisticated? Often. Flattering? Always. But, not anything eye-popping. 

L-R: Los Angeles, Southeast Asia, Down Under
Tonight, Kate certainly changed pace with this scarlet evening dress. The asymmetric, off-the-shoulder neckline, fitted bodice, and full, skirt deliver a strong retro flare while remaining timelessly elegant. The dress is from the pre-Autumn collection, and according to the Telegraph "was inspired by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, the last of the Mitford sisters who presided over the grand Chatsworth House and was at the centre of high society throughout the latter half of the 20th century."

Deborah Mitford died just two years ago and there was much discussion at the time about how influential she was in preserving Chatsworth and in developing strategies to keep her massive estate afloat. Her business model has been copied by other aristocratic estates allowing these families to maintain their ancestral homes despite crushing taxes. She was a veritable Lady Mary à la Downton Abbey, in that respect. Of course, as Duchess of Devonshire she had a small royal connection as well. Georgiana Cavendish, the famous 18th century Duchess of Devonshire and confidante of Marie-Antoinette, was a Spencer. All this to say, the inspiration for the dress was very fun.

Kate paired the dress with red heels, her Barque Pearl earrings from Soru, and carried a Jenny Packham clutch that appears to be a bespoke version of the Casa. She also wore the diamond studded Maple Leaf brooch. I wish she had chosen to wear the Harry Winston polar bear brooch. We have yet to see her wear it publicly and this might have been a fun occasion. 

Fashion verdict is an obvious win. Kate dripped sophistication and looked every inch the royal, from her perfectly coiffed side-chignon to her pointed toes. The draped bodice was exquisite. It might have looked a little too formal had Kate worn this with the sleeve off her shoulder, as it has been modeled, but perhaps it will get a recycle in London. I leave you with one final thought. This was at Government House in Victoria, so just before she came down to the ballroom, she probably kissed George and Charlotte goodnight. I think it is sweet to think of those two little ones slumbering upstairs while their parents party below. I am certainly looking forward to seeing them officially very soon. 

Day 2: Vancouver in Tiered Alexander McQueen

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Today was the first full day on tour for the Cambridges. This morning, the two began at the harbour where they were due to take a float plane from Victoria to Vancouver. Many were expecting the Duchess to dress down for the day's engagements, which included a visit to the Canadian Coast Guard, so it was with surprise that we greeted the Duchess dressed in a busy, red and white dress from Alexander McQueen.

I frankly want to get to the fashion, but let's zip through the day's activities before we do. After the couple landed at the dock, they made their way to Jack Poole Plaza to greet throngs of fans, some of whom had been waiting since 3am. This photo below might be my favorite. Kate looks like a billion bucks and we see Mr. Security and Rebecca Deacon on the left. It's a great shot.

The first charity on the line-up was Sheway, an outreach program for pregnant women and mothers battling addictions.

The program runs in one of Canada's poorest communities, an area plagued by sex trafficking and drug use. It offers an alternative to despair and provides support to women struggling to overcome addiction for themselves and their children. Certainly an initiative right up Kate's alley. 

Kate looks at babies with such genuine warmth and love. Can I get a vote that this woman should have a few more? Thank you. Resolution passed. 

The next stop was probably the most "politically charged" the couple has ever undertaken. They were joined by the Prime Minister and his wife for a visit to an immigration centre, which helps immigrants coming to Canada integrate into the community, find ESL courses, etc. What made the stop controversial was the focus on the centre's recent handling of some of the 30,000 Syrian refugees that Canada has accepted.

Crown in Canada

It's a very divisive topic, both in Canada and the United States, where the concerns over terrorism are growing stronger by the day. Many point to Germany, which has accepted 800,000 refugees, with some claiming the real number is over a million. Some regional experts have estimated that 2% of refugees are terrorists, which doesn't sound like that many until you do the math and realize that is 16,000 terrorists. That's...a lot terrorists on the loose. It's a debate to which I was surprised William and Kate opened the door, even if they didn't take a side. But, on reflection, perhaps it is a discussion that should seep across the walls we put up to political discussion. The outcome will, after all, shape the world for several generations. We should all be engaged in researching and debating the facts and figures. Certainly, we should not close our eyes to the crisis in the Middle East, either. I pray every day for the children of Syria who have only ever known war. My Twitter feed is full of videos and images of death, destruction, and torture. Children pulled from Aleppo's rubble, families torn apart and murdered on the plains of Nineveh, unspeakable acts of abuse and is overwhelming.  The plights of the people, and particularly the Christian and Yazidi minorities, have been a burden on my heart since this terrible mess started. As North Americans and Europeans, we should (maybe not in the blog section here ;)) discuss this with friends and with family, in a respectful and rational manner.

I know that this stop had political tones, and that some are understandably upset. But, since the royals introduced the topic, we should take it as an opportunity to understand the situation so that we don't continue to ignore the pain that is ongoing in the Middle East and the duty we owe to our fellow humans in crisis, nor the duty we owe to our own families to make sure that the Bataclan is never repeated. That we never have to fear a Sydney Cafe Crisis. A San Bernadino...the next wave of destruction on our homelands. We have to find a solution that stabilizes the Middle East and the lives of these people, while also maintaining the security of our own nations. I don't think there is an obvious or easy answer. These are just the dark and worrisome issues that I write this blog to escape, even if for a few hours, and introduces just the kind of tension that I do no welcome on the blog. I thought some while about including these few, brief thoughts, and chose to because the Cambridges "started it," and because the crisis in the Middle East, and those people, matter very much to me, as does the security and stability of my own homeland and my own loved ones. Hopefully, this will spark dialogue in places I may never know, but the fruits of which will impact us all for the better. Trying to transition from the very sobering to the lighter topics...

A reception for future leaders in the community was next on the schedule. William and Kate mixed with young people from the Vancouver and surrounding areas, as well as welcoming athletes who have recently returned from Rio:

Finally, they made a stop at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station before calling it a day.

At last, let's talk fashion. This dress is a bespoke version of a dress in McQueen's Resort 2017 collection. Below shown in red and in a black & white image. Kate's customization tones it down a little, but not that much. 

In an interview with Sarah Burton about the Resort collection, Vogue Runway reported:
What are these flowers, printed? “No, no,” Sarah Burton hastened to explain as she held out the flounce on a tiny ruffled dance dress for closer inspection. “Each one is hand-painted, and you see, it’s on leather.” Such is the extraordinary sophistication of handwork that Burton puts into her collections that its wonders are only truly read close up. The mixtures of carnations, yellow roses, peonies, and poppies, each petal expertly defined with an artist’s paintbrush, were inspired, she said, by British folk art and domestic interiors: “Wallpaper, patterns you see on canal barges.”
This detail is apparent on this dress, and one fun example is the buttons. They have delicate, painted flowers on them!

It is safe to say that the reaction from fans to this dress was electric. Not only is it an eye-watering $5,000, but it is neither conservative nor demure. White with red embroidery, the dress features a flirty, short skirt and unusual buttoned collar. Kate didn't try to downplay the effect, either, by pairing it with her preferred nude accessories. Instead, she opted to highlight the va va voom with bright heels and a Miu Miu clutch in matching crimson. This entire ensemble really reminded me of another famous queen of fashion, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. This is just the sort of ensemble she would wear.

My only criticism of this dress is the studs along the collar. That's a fashion statement I just can't get behind; it is a bridge too far. In every other respect, I love, love, love this dress. I love the flouncy two-tiered skirt. I love the short hem that highlights her killer legs. I love that she paired it with red accessories. I like that she made a really bold choice, which is what so many have been urging for so long. Not for the first time, she owned her princess status with this dress. It is a real home run for me.

One of my fabulous readers, Haley Hooyenga was at Jack Poole Plaza this morning and rubbed shoulders with royalty! I forgot to ask her how Kate was in the flesh. Most people say she is even more radiant and beautiful than in pictures. Feel free to weigh in, Haley, and congrats on what must have been such a memorable day!

Don't forget to follow the tour on my Kate's Clothes Instagram. I check-in by video on the Stories feature at least once a day, hopefully more this week. You can find the fun on Instagram Stories here. Oh, and I think you can only see Stories on mobile, just FYI.