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Kate Recycled Her Glittering JP for A Taste of Norfolk

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Not all charity galas are created equal. It is always a gracious touch and a special draw when a fundraiser is held a private home and when a special guest is added to the mix. Tonight the private home was the magnificent Houghton Hall, a Palladian mansion set in the rolling lush hills of the Norfolk countryside, and the special guest was the glittering Duchess of Cambridge herself. The event, dubbed A Taste of Norfolk, saw an elite group of philanthropists gather toward dusk to clink champagne glasses and toast EACH's capital campaign. 

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge were both honored guests at what was a thank-you event that took place a hop, skip, and a jump from their own Anmer Hall hideaway located just a few miles down the road. Kate and William arrived by chauffeured Jaguar and were greeted on the front steps by their friends and hosts the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley. 

You might recall that in Downton Abbey [final season spoiler alert] when Edith married she was raised to the exalted rank of Marchioness. Rose and David are chums of the Cambridges and are members of the Norfolk set with whom the royals enjoy socializing in country. Interestingly, before she married, the Marchioness was a fashion-model, so the women make quite a striking duo. (Tonight the hostess chose Valentino.)

Their hosts didn't waste much time getting drinks into the royals' hands and the meeting & greeting got going. Kate very, very rarely ever drinks publicly, although we know that she does in private, but tonight she was clearly holding a glass of wine. Although it doesn't look like she was making the same headway as her companions, it underlines the intimacy of the evening. She seemed to view it more like a personal social event and less like a work one. 

You probably remember that Kate helped launch the capital campaign in 2014 while in the early stages of her pregnancy with Princess Charlotte. She was the obvious choice to lead the appeal given her heavy involvement with EACH and the fact that the new facility will be right in her Norfolk backyard.

Guests were entertained tonight by a number of performances while the evening glow cast a flattering golden tone across all assembled. I know many a fashionista prayer was answered when it was revealed that Kate had recycled the blush sequined evening gown she first debuted at the Ark gala in 2011. Tonight, it absolutely glittered as it was brushed by the setting sun. 

This dress's debut was the very first public engagement that Kate undertook as a royal, if you discount Epsom, which I do. It seems so long ago and at the same time the excitement still feels fresh. I remember when it was announced that the gown Kate was wearing was by Jenny Packham. Little did any of us know what an extraordinary and lasting collaborative relationship would blossom there. It was the first of many Packham evenings, but I think for many it remains one of the best. 

Tonight's recycle, with the same L.K. Bennett shoes and Prada clutch, was particularly lovely because Kate wore her hair in a chignon, revealing the diaphanous, rolled neckline which had been obscured by Kate's incredible, post-marriage locks before. 

This was the perfect dress for this night. The beading caught the setting sun and the soft blush pink blended perfectly with the peaceful backgrounds. It is a glamorous dress that held its own at a power-packed London gala, but seemed gentle and alluring at this more sedate, albeit no less pricey, dinner party. Kate added even more sparkle to the ensemble with her earrings loaned from Her Majesty and the diamond encrusted bracelet, also loaned from the Queen, that we first saw at the China State Banquet. 

This was an event we have been looking forward to for many months. There were not as many pictures as we would get at a big fundraiser in London and we had to wait for poor Richard Palmer to drive five miles up the road to find cell reception to text out the first early photos of what Kate was wearing, but A Taste of Norfolk did not disappoint. It was everything I had hoped for from a gala at one of Britain's palatial estates. Kate was glowing, the gown was was a success! It's hard to believe that June 9, 2011 is already five years in the rearview, but time hasn't dulled the Duchess a bit.  See you soon for more royal adventures! 

Happy 34th Birthday to Prince William!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Today we are celebrating the 34th birthday of the Duke of Cambridge. Yesterday, Prince William was in Saint-Étienne, France to watch England play Slovakia in the Euro 2016. This morning, he boarded a commercial flight in Lyon heading for Heathrow. Several travelers in Lyon tweeted their excitement at seeing the prince who boarded his flight last and promptly dozed off for the flight across the Channel. At Heathrow, William was the first to deplane, making his way to a waiting Range Rover on the tarmac. He will be spending his birthday with his little family, of course. 

William has gotten some bad press this year, but I think--like much of the bad press leveled at his wife--the accusations are often unfair and take advantage of William's more reserved personality. Several weeks ago William was pictured doing warm-up stretches before a polo game. Anyone who takes pilates or yoga (btw, it is World Yoga Day today!) will immediately recognize this as the cat-camel stretch, one of my favorites. 

I laughed when I saw the funny snaps and particularly William's good-natured grin as he contorted himself this way and that. It reminded me how the press and the public often forgets William's more complicated personality.

Personalities come in all shapes, sizes, and volumes. Some are very outgoing and bubbly, while there are others among us who keep a little more to ourselves. From the outside, the more discreet personalities can seem cold and even unkind, while in reality they can be as caring and thoughtful as the gregarious. Just this past week the Daily Mail ran an odd article about how well Kate and Harry get along, which is perfectly true, but right in the middle, the article took a swipe at William, commenting that he seems at odds with the happy friendship between his wife and brother. This is absurd.

William keeps pretty tight "internal security" around his private personality, but given how long he has been in the public spotlight, none of us is ignorant of the fact that he is quite the tease in private, who opens up around family and good friends.

It is impossible to divorce the attractive quality of future king of England, but William obviously also charmed Kate with his sense of humor. That was clear in many photos of the two throughout their dating days...

...and it is clear that he continues to charm her now she is his wife. 

We see his warmth shine in his charity work, too, where people from all walks and strata of life light up when William reveals his charm:

The mischievous little boy we saw larking around outside St. Mary Magdalene as a child isn't gone, he is only revealed occasionally. 

William is clearly a man who loves his wife, his children, and his broader family, his charities, his country and his Queen. In his care and attention to all these people, his true and private personality is revealed. I like him very much and I think he will weather the storms of public opinion just fine as the years go by. Wishing him a perfect day with his beautiful family!  Happy Birthday, Your Royal Highness!

P.S. My sister Fiona shares her birthday with Prince William, so today we are also celebrating her! Fiona took over the Kate's Clothes Instagram page for me when I went to law school because I couldn't keep up with it all, and she has done a fantastic job with that. Happy Birthday, Fiona! I hope we can pull off a day of royal worthy celebrations for you! :) 

Duchess of Cambridge Makes Her Royal Ascot Debut

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It is time for a proper post covering Kate's debut at Royal Ascot. This year has marked a number of first time attendances. William made his first appearance at a BP Garden Party, the couple attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Chelsea Flower Show, and today they participated for the first time at Royal Ascot.  This was certainly a highlight of the royal year.

Ascot sees the royals process to their enclosure via horse drawn carriage. This tradition was launched by George IV in the early 19th century:

Although Kate has never been, her parents were guests of the Queen in 2012. By the way, Mrs. Carole, we haven't seen you out and about in some time, and although I am sure royal-granny-duty is keeping you busy, a little something for the masses would be appreciated. A shopping excursion on Kensington High Street, or a society wedding. Just about anything will do, but your fans miss you! 

My hope was that Kate would wear white. It is such a great color on her and it pops beautifully against the green backgrounds. Her white ensemble at Epsom was perfection and I was hoping for a similar ensemble today. I got part of my wish. As the carriages swept in Kate was seated next to William in white lace with a contrasting Jane Taylor hat in a neutral cream:

If that lace looks familiar, it should be. Kate recycled her Dolce & Gabbana lace dress first worn to the Windsor Horse Show to...extremely mixed reviews. I believe I likened the dress, such of it that we could see, to a Miss Havisham ensemble. Today, we could initially only see the bodice, which didn't look too shabby, so I waited with baited breath to know if we had a hit or a terrible miss.

Via Elliot Wagland

Kate exited the carriage and we had a mixed result. This dress is not as bad as it looked with that bulky swing coat at the WHS. Kate is quite lithe and the fitted bodice went a long way in righting the wrongs done to the dress on its first wear, but I just don't know that I can reconcile myself to that dust ruffle at the bottom. Perhaps if the lace were not such a busy pattern or if the ruffle was not such a tight bunch.

It was an odd ensemble for me and made me think of that Pavarotti song I Hate You Then I Love You. I have vacillated so many times. I think if I didn't already have a deeply rooted antipathy from the first wear, today's scales would tip in favor. The dust ruffle is regrettable, but I still like the overall impact.  When you can't stop looking at pictures it must be a win.  I will tell you what I love, I love that Jane Taylor hat. It just makes the entire ensemble work.

Via Ascot Facebook

This is the Una mesh disc hat with feather accents which retailed at over £1,000. It features a beautiful rose just the way roses ought to be featured on hats. ;)

Something about the flair and the way it angles reminds me of some of the hats in The Duchess (such a great movie) particularly this one below. It lends Kate's ensemble almost a period feel, which works at an event like Ascot.

Kate was wearing Gianvito Rossi pumps in praline, carrying her Natalie clutch, and wearing what appear to be new earrings from Kiki McDonough:

In 2013 one of the races was renamed to honor the Duke of Cambridge and today he presented the trophy for the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. The couple were cuter than ever together as they enjoyed an afternoon that had seemingly miraculously cleared of rain. Kate looked radiant as her dapper husband kept her close, continuing to foster relationship envy the world over. :)

Rumor has it we have more surprises coming this week, but if nothing turns up tomorrow this engagement ends a streak of consecutive public engagements for Kate. If so, this was a very strong finish to a succession of successful events. Well done, Kate! 

Kate of Carrickfergus: The Baroness Returns to Ireland

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

After the couple paid their respects at the American embassy this morning, they flew to Northern Ireland for their first visit since the Engagement Tour of the UK just before their marriage. The Baron and Lady Carrickfergus, as they are styled in Ireland, were due at a garden party hosted by the Secretary of State at Hillsborough Castle. 

Hillsborough is the official residence of the BRF in Northern Ireland. Located in County Down, not far from Belfast and a little north of Carrickfergus, the historical center of the title the Cambridges hold in Northern Ireland.  

Kate recycled her brocade coat from DAY Birger Mikkelsen. Kate has had this coat for many years. She first wore it to the wedding of Camilla's daughter Laura Parker Bowles in 2006.

At the time of the initial wear (2006), Kate paired it with one of my all time favorite dresses, the champagne lace cocktail dress by Collette Dinnigan. This might be Kate's most frequently recycled coats. She has worn it four other times, often pairing it with the same lace dress. It looks like she was wearing the dress again today. 

I think its best wear was at Zara's wedding where the sunshine highlighted the exquisite fabric.

Kate debuted a new hat by Lock & Co. today. This is the "Morning Rose" perching hat made in circled sinamay to look like the flower. The website says it is available in any dyed shade you need to match your ensemble, which is clearly what Kate did.

It looks like a morning rose. I get it, I do. However, it also looks like another morning item--a sticky cinnamon bun. It's just missing some drizzled frosting. I can't come up with a positive comment about this hat, it is dreadful. It will give me fashion nightmares tonight, I am certain of it.

If you are familiar with Irish heritage you know the beautiful song My Wild Irish Rose, and I suspect this is what inspired Kate. Maybe roses as detailing would have been better. I am assuming that Kate was drinking champagne and shopping online when she chose it. We've all been there, so no judgement. This champagne color is a tough shade to pull off. The coat is so sumptuously gorgeous, with its deep gold highlights and rich brocade, that it always looks great, but in general I think Kate should contrast with another color when wearing this coat. Next time! 

Many have commented about the fact that William and Kate have not been to Ireland since their 2011 visit, but the fact of the matter is that this region remains contentious. There is a very valid reason that both their visits were embargoed and announced in close proximity to the event. It remains dangerous for British royals and caution must be taken.

Via Kensington Palace

Kate wore her Fern pumps, carried her Nina clutch, and accessorized with the Shamrock brooch by Cartier. This brooch is owned by the Irish Guards and on loan to Kate. It is a lovely piece and a great addition to today's ensemble.  Kate's earrings are a new debut. Another set from Kiki McDonough. Soon Kate will own the entire Kiki collection, I think, which suits me just fine.

That being said, these aren't my favorite Kiki's either. They are lemon quartz drops surrounded by diamonds and are currently out of stock. I don't love yellow, but as we know, Kate certainly does.

For all the elements I would have tweaked, Kate was glowing today. Her elegant chignon, lithe figure, and bright smile were striking. Against the lush background of this Irish country house, she was a vision of British beauty.

It is fun to see the two back in Ireland. This was a good event because it was easy to control security. I hope their next visit sees them back among the people, and maybe out in the countryside. The fashion verdict, hat excepted, is a win.

Kensington Palace