Thursday, August 28, 2014

Prince George Photographed Toddling Through Kensington Gardens

Happy news. Master Georgie Cutie-Pants of Cambridge was spotted taking a stroll in Kensington Gardens, with the helping hand of Nanny Maria. This isn't What George Wore, but...what is he wearing? It looks like a snow-suit. Perhaps it is a rain-suit? I am unfamiliar with the more intricate pieces of a toddlers wardrobe. Whatever it is, just like his mother, George has that quality of taking a piece that would be awful on mere mortals and transforming it into the height of royal cuteness. I only half jest:

Sooo, George is still cute. Meanwhile, I think that we are at last at the end of Annual Royal Drought. I suppose we all need a break from time to time, both royals and readers. As August comes to a close and we move into (wonderful, beautiful) fall, Kate has added another date to her calendar and I expect more engagements will be announced. The Duke and Duchess will both be appearing on September 8th at St. Hugh's College--just a little over a week to wait.

St. Hugh's College, Oxford Wikipedia

Kate was spotted shopping at the Clarins boutique at Harvey Nichols. Apparently, the lovely Duchess was purchasing the Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate, which is described as "A powerful triple action--lifts, de-puffs, and replenishes, leaving skin soft and renewed." I am sold! You can snag this at Sephora. 

My mom never let us watch the Simpsons--yep, I was THAT kid--, but I have seen a few clips in my majority and have found them to be pretty clever all around. Perhaps, the ladies of series are not the most aesthetically pleasing, but recently the beautiful Kate has been "Simpsonized" and the results are...hilarious. I bet you Kate decorates her bathroom with these. I really love them. The artist has recreated so many of her ensembles. Be sure to see them here. I particularly like the sketches of Kate with the Queen:

Speaking of royal droughts...I have returned from holidays and will be more attentive to the blog. I planned to have so many posts while away, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. :) Apologies, but Paris was too beguiling. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Carole Middleton: Sport & Social

Last week we looked at Carole dressing to mingle with royalty, and this week we will look at her lightly more casual appearances. 

Princes William and Harry are very involved with the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund charity, of which they are joint-patrons. Henry van Straubenzee was a school chum and a good friend to both princes, but was killed in an auto accident in 2002. Kate used to go to the Henry van Straubenzee charity concert at St. Luke's, but has not been since the winter of her engagement. I think the publicity is probably just too crazy. I was very excited to see Carole attend this past December,  despite Kate's absence, and I thought she looked fabulous. Wearing a black sheath dress and wrapped up in a chic black coat, she once again hit the nail on the head dressing her age, but still displaying  youthful zest in her choices.  I was so taken by her booties, which are Aquatalia, I ran out and ordered a pair of my own and have not regretted the decision once. They are adorable and oh so comfortable to wear throughout a day at the office. 

The grandmother of the future king of England was snapped wreathed in smiles as she popped into the Edward VII hospital in December of 2012 after Kate was hospitalized with acute morning sickness. Well done, George. Trouble from the start. :) 

While I cannot absolutely confirm, this coat is screaming MaxMara at me. We have certainly seen Kate wear the label in the past, too, and she had worn a light pink Max Mara just the month before she was hospitalized, so perhaps mother and daughter were shopping together:

Another coat Carole has been spotted in is also from a Kate favorite: Katherine Hooker. Carole wore a very classic Katherine Hooker coat on Christmas morning in 2012:

Similar in style to Carole's is the beautiful Katherine Hooker that Kate had "repurposed" for her lifeboat appearance. It remains one of my favorites on the Duchess:

When out for a night with Michael, Carole can get quite adventurous. This tropical ensemble was her tribute to the family's favorite holiday locale: Mustique. On this occasion the Middletons were back at the Goring (shortly after they stayed there for the royal wedding) to party at Basil's Bar: London. Read more on that event and the bar here. 

For a party launching Pippa's fabulous entertaining book Celebrate, Carole opted for a structured red sheath. With grounding, black accessories and her hair swept up, the proud mom was the picture of elegance.

Like their daughter, the Middletons love a good game of tennis and are spotted every year at Wimbledon, often more than once. In June of 2011, Michael and Carole joined Pippa and then-boyfriend Alex Loudon to enjoy a match:

In 2012, she wore a lovely blue suit with playful pleating on the skirt.

In June of 2013 Carole chose cobalt blue to attend the famous tennis tournament. I love this color in general, and another certain person is also quite the fan. 

We have gotten a pretty heavy dose of this shade from th Duchess who most recently wore it to Scotland for the Commonwealth Games and to the poppy installation at the Tower of London. 

Now, this is certainly an issue that will divide us, since I know many of you are not fans of animal print. And as you all know...I am just a little bit a very big fan of animal print. ;) So, I was pretty excited when Carole wore this get-up to Wimbledon the very next week:

In my defense, Kate likes animal print, too, and has worn is to varying degrees many times over the years. She was most ostentatious with it when she wore a full Dalmatian print coat to her last official engagement before George's birth:

This year, Carole broke from blue with this red and white houndstooth from Jaeger and stepped up the style stakes with some colorful shoes. I am not in love with these wedges, but props for the color pop.

Again, Mrs. Middleton chose a label that has already been patronized by her elder daughter, who has worn the brand several times, most notably on tour in 2012 and very recently to Greenwich. 

In a third and final post, we will briefly look at Carole's jewelry, so watch for that... 

I want to apologize for any delay in comments and my tardy or non-exitsant responses to your lovely remarks. I am still on holiday and internet access has not always been easy.   I will be back to normal schedule very soon, though. Hopefully, as summer winds down and crisp fall weather makes her return, we will also see an uptick in royal activity! Malta (and more) is on its way!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Carole Middleton: Dressing to Rub Shoulders with Royalty

Today we are going to speak about a very, very special person. A remarkable woman for whom I have so much admiration and respect. This could describe Kate, but it is Carole were are focusing on this morning.  She is a woman with "true grit" but beautifully packaged in style and grace, and powered by a calm, quiet, and powerful presence. Carole Middleotn, perhaps even more than her often maligned daughter Kate, has patiently endured some pretty nasty slights from press and public alike over the years. Despite it all, she is a massively impressive success story. 

One of the most delightful and through accounts of Carole Middleton is the comprehensive piece written by Julia Llewellyn Smith for The Telegraph on the occasion of George's birth. While I may seem biased because Ms. Llewellyn Smith interviewed me for the piece, all JB quotes aside, it is truly a great overview of the Middleton matriarch and gives a very thorough overview of the woman who went from an airline stewardess to the grandmother of the future king of England, laughing familiarly with the Duke of Edinburgh at Ascot, and taking tea and birthday cake with Elizabeth II herself. I highly recommend you read it if you have not already.  In so far as Carole raised Kate, instilled in her many of the principles and standards by which our favorite princess operates, and supported and advised her daughter  throughout her stressful and at times touch-and-go relationship, it is fair to say that this woman played a major role in the success of her daughter, and by extension her family. She has much  to be proud of. Since our focus here is style, let's pause and take a moment to admire Carole's equally impressive sartorial touch.

Needless to say, dressing for your daughter's wedding is always an event (I imagine) but, when your daughter is marrying the most popular heir to the throne of the most powerful and prestigious monarchy left in existence...well, that ups the style stakes. Significantly. Carole rose to this challenge and was absolute perfection in this soft blue coat-dress ensemble by Catherine Walker when her family took center stage on April 29th. 

As any fan of her daughter the Duchess knows, Catherine Walker was a French-born designer, whom Kate has worn on a number of occasions. 

Kate Cambridge Wearing Catherine Walker (Not and exhaustive example.)

Both Middleton ladies, however, tip their hat to a previous princess when wearing Ms. Walker. Diana made Catherine Walker a (fashion)household name when she continuously patronized the label during her lifetime. 

It was a smart move to wear designer royalty, but also perhaps a tribute to her daughter's mother-in-law...even if that mother-in-law was in-absentia. Carole accessorized with very elegant neutrals and a beautiful Jane Corbett hat.  She easily held her own with the two most senior ladies of the realm:

The stylish mother-of-the-bride did not miss a beat when it came time to choose her evening attire. Carole turned to a Middleton favorite for this event. Temperley London got the nod from both Carole and Pippa for an evening that included cocktails, dinner, and dancing at Buckingham Palace...closing the night in the early hours of the morning with a fireworks display. 

Both Pippa and Kate wear Temperley often, and Kate has worn various pieces from the label, turning to them for everything from evening-wear to stampede attire, albeit western-wear fit for a princess:

Perhaps Kate got her thrifty side from her mom, because Carole recycled the Temperley dress for the Red Cross Gala in November of 2013:

It isn't just when an estimated 2 billion people around the globe will be watching, however, that Mama Middleton gets it right. She is pretty much as consistent as Kate choosing winners again, and again. She also resembles her daughter in returning to certain labels for certain genres...or perhaps whenever it is a royal event. Carole again wore Catherine Walker and Jane Corbett for her grandson's christening in October of 2013. Although this coat did get mixed reviews, I liked it very much and found both the colors and the paneling to be very flattering:

While Carole had been attending Ascot before 2011's Royal Wedding, once her daughter was raised from Miss Middleton to HRH Princess William of Wales, the Queen issued the couple an invitation requesting they join her at Royal Ascot. The carriage procession entrance and the royal box are certainly a step-up from the normal milieu, and the Middletons arrived in the 4th coach from the front. Carole was wearing a beautiful neutral ensemble with lace detailing and a sweeping, wide-brimmed hat:

I have to say, I take a rather delicious, albeit uncharitable, delight in the anguish and gnashing of teeth that no doubt ensues from those individuals who throughout the years have taken swipes at Carole Middleton. Which is one of the reasons why I love moments like this. Carole, enjoying an afternoon at Ascot in 2012, giggling away with HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. (I guess we see where Harry gets it...)

Closing off this installment with one final horse sporting event, I could not leave out her summery and winsome appearance at the Epsom Derby. I really loved this ensemble. Carole favors structured for these more formal events, but in this case she added this soft chiffon and it was a lovely success. Brown and delicate pink, and the light jacket were the perfect combo for a more relaxed afternoon at Epsom:

Not all Carole's clothes are identified. If you can identify any piece that I have not, please pop into the comments share your wealth of knowledge !

Part II on Carole Middleton and her style coming soon... 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Kate Has Been Enjoying a Quiet August: Playdates with George & Discount Shopping

While the Cambridges seem to be taking some quiet time during August, Kate has been using it to spend quality time with her little man. She was spotted in Kensington Gardens playing in a little children's beach. The Express reports:
Last week she was spotted playing with the spirited toddler on the "beach" in the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, a few yards from Kensington Palace where she and William have an apartment.
"It was lovely seeing them play together in the sand. They stayed for about 15 minutes," I am told.
"They had three protection officers with them but Kate seemed oblivious to anyone except her gorgeous baby enjoying himself."
I cannot speak to the significance of the park's name in Kate's mind when she popped by. I suspect as a royal there are a great number of streets, and statues, and places that carry the names of family members, old and new. Certainly, though, Kate is following in Diana's spirit by not shrinking from a public outing with her child.

Kate also likes a bargain--that's a sentence we have heard a million and one times--and was indulging in a little retail therapy yesterday as she was spotted at the oft frequented Bicetser Village. Bicester Village is a designer outlet mall. As any good shopper knows, not every "designer outlet mall" is created equal, but this one gets the royal nod of approval, and small wonder. Bicester boasts outlet stores from a significant number of the labels that Kate wears today, and is universally recognized as the best designer outlet mall in the UK. 

E! reported last year that Kate is often at Bicester Village.  (Not entirely relevant, but I notice the quote says, "with the same two friends.")
"She said: 'Oh, it's Kate Middleton—she's in here all the time. You look up and there'll be Kate and her same two friends going through the 60 percent off rack. You have no idea she's there and security must be outside, but she comes in all the time.'
I have the sense this is probably a habit that goes a ways back.   In addition to many of the labels Kate wears today, brands that she hasn't been seen in for some time are also available at Bicester. French Connection, Armani, Diesel are all past-favorites. Kate wore French Connection with regularity as a single girl, and chose one of their blouses when it came time for her first portrait to be painted--although sleeves were added in the final production:

Now Kate almost exclusively favors, JBrand, Paige, or Zara, but she used to run around London in Diesel jeans:

Until she recycled it while pregnant with George, we hadn't seen Kate's Armani red in a while:

On yesterday's visit, it was reported that Kate was shopping at Ralph Lauren, a label of which she is very, very fond, in addition to popping into Reiss and Gucci. 

It is hard to know for certain what Kate actually bought, as often the reported items never surface, although that does not mean that she did not simply wear them in private. Nevertheless, perhaps we can expect to see a lovely Reiss, or a stunning RL in the near future. 

I am currently on holiday, so I apologize if I am slow to respond to all your lovely comments, but I am reading them and enjoying them all. I will be back with a post on Wednesday...see you then! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cambridges Will Move to Norfolk As William Takes on Civilian Pilot Role

This morning brought the confirmation of the rumors that have been circling for many months now. In April of this year, Sunday Times journalist Kate Mansey reported that at the close of his transition year, Prince William would choose to move to Norfolk and take a position in the East Anglian Air Ambulance, rather than taking up a position as a full-time working royal. Although the palace denied the story, it became increasingly obvious over time that this was the most likely scenario. In a Kensignton Palace press release this morning, the news has been confirmed. 

The press release points out that this will be William's full-time job, and that he will undertake both day and night shifts. Obviously, this confirms another hypothesis that was fairly obvious: the Cambridges will be moving out to Anmer Hall. Renovations are essentially complete at this time, and only the finishing touches on interior design remain to be completed. Work should be done by September.  

William will sign an employment contract with a civilian employer, and he is believed to be the first royal in direct line of succession ever to have done so. He will be earning a salary of £40,000 and donating it to charity. To me, one of the most interesting elements of this development is that William is signing a two-year contract. Royal reporter Rebecca English hypothesizes that due the significant amount of training William will undergo to take him from a co-pilot to a commander, that the prince will remain an additional two years in the ambulance service, for a total of four years. We will not be seeing the Cambridges take up royal duties in a greater capacity for some time.

British Monarchy Facebook

Kate will naturally not progress in royal duties while William maintains a semi-private, working life. The Palace told reporters that Kate will, "continue with her small portfolio of work and focus on begin a mother." 

This is obviously a multi-faceted decision, I believe taking into a account a number of priorities and needs for the Cambridges as a family and for the BRF as an institution. 

From a personal perspective, Kate and William want to raise George in an environment that is as calm and as normal as possible. I am sure that Kate is particularly anxious to give her son the kind of happy, healthy, and secure upbringing that she enjoyed. The Cambridges obviously love the lifestyle and privacy that a country house affords, as is evidenced by the amount of time they spend in Bucklebury with Kate's parents. Maintaining some modicum of normalcy is a priority...

The Cambridges in Bucklebury

For the royal family, this is also no doubt a tactical move and one that has to be made. Charles and Camilla cannot always and increasingly be overshadowed by William and Kate, which in the press and in public interest is almost universally the case. While the Cambridges are certainly senior royals and are significant assets to the Royals as a brand, they can't fly too high too quickly, or it throws the balance off. In short, Kate and William are the cool kids and none of the wallflowers get a chance to blossom if they are always present. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall need to have priority, and even Harry, whom the Palace is obviously trying to promote as a more and more serious senior royal, needs to have some space to highlight his work with charities.


Thankfully, in this instance, the needs of the Palace and the needs of the Cambridges beautifully complement one another and I cannot imagine a more felicitous solution for all parties. 

Kensington Palace via Historic Royal Palaces Facebook

There has been a lot of seeming outrage over the home situation, which I find entirely perplexing. Yes, the Cambridges renovated their Kensington Palace apartment. They are royals, very senior royals, and they need a London base-home. Unlike the majority of people, they will not be selling the KP apartment and moving to a better street in five years, for a better school district, or relocating to  the other side of town because it is better for traffic in the morning for the commute. This home will be their London home until...the move to an even more iconic London palace... So, it had to be done.  Straight-forwardly, just do it. 

What of the expense? Yes, it was expensive. Was there anyone, anywhere under the impression that the renovation of an historic palace would be cheap? In this economy and with the price of labor today? I mean really. It is unlikely that 1A will receive this kind of overhaul again in a very, very long time. When it comes to renovating one's living space, splurging a little more while you have the place torn up and the workers present usually saves you more than few dollars down the road. My personal perspective: if one were to sit down and really study where tax dollars go, fixing up an historic home which is a national treasure, and giving your (nationally lucrative) royal family a royal living space, would probably be nowhere near the top of the list of wasteful (and more importantly harmful) government spending. At the end of the day, this is one of those complaints that is easy to sell at face-value while in reality holding little water.

You can read the full KP press release here. I leave you with a picture of William piloting a helicopter demonstration in Canada, while Kate takes pictures for the family album on the far bank. I think it nicely demonstrates exactly the kind of couple these two want to be, as far possible: normal.