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Dazzling Duchess Kate Attends Vogue 100 Party

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

In the last post discussing Kate's events earlier in the day, I mentioned the va va voom she brought in 2012 with the Peridot from Roksanda Ilincic. Tonight, the Duchess did it again for her appearance at the National Portrait Gallery to view the Vogue 100: a Century of Style exhibition. She was the guest of honor, of course, because she is HRH the Duchess of Cambridge, but she was doubly tonight's star because she is Vogue's covergirl. It is certainly the kind of event for which you would want to look good, and most women would debut a new ensemble. Instead, Kate recycled---and the fans went wild:

Kate first wore these pink McQueen separates while on tour in Adelaide. Kate was radiant that day and, her hair, ensemble, and accessories were on point, and, as usual when working a tour, the Cambridge chemistry was crackling:

I know this McQueen has made several of my lists of "ensembles that deserve a royal recycle" and that the wish has been shared by many. Part of me wondered if a recycle would fall short of the first wear and be disappointing, but Kate's restyling this evening put that fear to rest. She was stunning. At first blush, the light wool separates might not seem like the first choice for an evening gallery opening, but Kate knew just what to add to strike the right note. The Duchess got a fresh blow-out after the rigors of the morning, she darkened up her eyeliner and blush, and added a kick with her accessories. 

Usually reserved with jewelry, Kate added sparkle by wearing her Monica Vinader "Riva" diamond bib necklace and matching earrings. We have only seen her wear this set once before, in 2014 to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards while pregnant with Charlotte. 

The set blended very well with her blue Jenny Packham that night. I think these sparklers work especially well with pastels and feminine designs, because they were picture perfect tonight paired with this pink ensemble.  The peplum top has an element that helps boost the glam-factor and that is, of course, that plunging neckline we discussed when this first debuted.

Everyone has their favorite style elements and Kate has always had a penchant for the plunge. Certainly we saw deep necklines throughout her twenties, but even after she married William, she has featured lower necklines when she can. I share her gravitation toward v-necklines and I always get excited when she wears one now she is a princess.

The McQueen separates are as gorgeous as they were when she debuted them Down Under. This post is a little heavy on the videos because, as with everything McQueen makes for Kate, these pieces have beautiful motion.

Kate arrived and toured the entire exhibit. Photographer Josh Olin was also on hand and presented Kate with a bound collection of photos from the shoot. That book is sure to have all sorts of prints we will not be seeing.

Of course, the money shot was when she paused to take in her own photographs, displayed close to one of her father-in-law Prince Charles.

Kate reportedly felt the moment was surreal. Although she has been on the cover of numerous tabloids, magazines, and newspapers, and even had a portrait displayed at the NPG, there is something special about appearing in this centenary collection alongside a number of iconic figures:

Rebecca English
Verdict: this look is such a huge win for me. Kate's dark hair and eyes with the pastel pink, the slim tailoring and flattering peplum, and that daring signature was a knock-out. Interestingly, Kate kept her nude accessories, which picked up hints of the pink and completed her ensemble with polish. I loved it! 

One more video that makes me chuckle. Kate walks in and pauses, as if to say, anyone coming along with me?

Kate Visits Hampton Court & Spencer House on Day of Engagements

So much for our worries that we would suffer a drought of the Duchess after the conclusion of the India tour. After a slew of pictures and news surrounding Kate and her children, the princess had three engagements today beginning with a visit to Hampton Court to open a new children's play area called The Magic Garden.  

Anytime Kate visits an historic venue like Hampton Court, it is always particularly exciting to me. Hampton Court is saturated in Tudor history and the palace has more than a few famous, but tragic, characters closely associated with it. It was initially built in 1515 by Thomas Wolsey, a prelate of the Catholic Church and a well-known historical figure, due primarily to his place of prominence in Henry VIII's court and his ultimately unsuccessful attempts to secure an annulment that would allow the king to marry the (in)famous Anne Boleyn.  Wolsey fell from grace and died en route to London where he would doubtless have met his execution, but not before he had transferred Hampton Court to Henry as a "gift."  Anne Boleyn reigned briefly at Hampton Court before her star set; Henry's third wife Jane Seymour died at Hampton shortly after giving birth to Henry's heir; and there is a story that Catherine Howard, Henry's fifth wife ran screaming through the palace to beg Henry for her life after he discovered her infidelity and sentenced her to execution. There is a legend that her ghost walks the "Haunted Gallery" at Hampton.  

William III decided to remake Hampton Court to rival Versailles (I can hear the Gallic snort from my French readers). You can't blame the man for giving it a go. In any event, he was interrupted in the makeover, which has left the palace a mix of two competing styles. (See above).  On the other hand, two birds with one stone if you are looking for an attraction that affords a range of stunning architecture and design. I don't think that William III achieved Versailles, but there is no doubt Hampton Court is magnificent in its beauty and rich in history:

Robert Myers is the architect who has created a Tudor inspired play-ground in what was once Henry VIII's jousting lawn. It is themed around castles and dragons and stories and myths from 16th century England. Kate was shown around the new playground, here she is appreciating the perspective pergola with Myers. 

Historical Royal Palaces
Thankfully, times have changed since this palace was the nucleus of Henry VIII's court, and today's royal lady doesn't live under a cloud of intrigue or impeding doom. Nevertheless, as a royal wife, she certainly was experiencing a history of which is very much a part of. Our modern duchess was asked by a little visitor if she was "the princess," and Kate replied, "just call me Kate!" She didn't say no, folks. :)

The news narrative is sometimes predictable for these events, but today we got a twist when Kate told another child that Prince George and Princess Charlotte have a pet hamster named Marvin! I don't know why we were all shocked, but it certainly made waves. Lupo isn't alone, although for all we know the Cambridges could have several cats and a parakeet. According to Kate, Charlotte loves Marvin because his whiskers tickle her face. I have looked at some hamster pictures on Google and given their minute size I am mostly concerned that George is going to squish Marvin, by accident, of course. 

Today was Throwback to April 2014. Kate rummaged into her closet and recycled several favorites from the Australia/New Zealand tour. This Michael Kors coat is famous for stumping those of us who are supposed to ID on the swift. When Kate wore it on Anzac Day in 2014 it took a press release from Michael Kors the next day to alert royal fans that the Duchess had debuted the American label.

Although we didn't know who made it for some hours, this coat was a massive success. It is such a pleasure to see really beautiful pieces on a second wear, because inevitably they are cast in a slightly different shade. As Australia was heading into winter in April, that ANZAC day was a bit overcast. I was struck by what the clear, spring sunshine in Surrey did to give this coat a little twist and bring out some of the lighter threads of the tweed.

It was beautiful then, it was beautiful again today, styled with nude accessories that not only helped to differentiate the wears, but was more in keeping with the seasonal change. As small as it might seem, the barely-there lavender of Kate's Roksanda Illincic peeking out by the lapels also drew out the lighter tones. 

Kate was wearing her Empress earrings by Mapping & Webb and she carried a new clutch from L.K. Bennett. After setting the Twitterverse into excited chatter over her Marvin revelation, Kate made her way to her luncheon engagement at the Anna Freud Centre.

Luncheon in Support of Anna Freud

Stepping out at Spencer House in London for a luncheon in support of the Anna Freud Centre, Kate had removed her Michael Kors coat to fully reveal the Peridot shift dress by Roksanda Ilincic. 

This feminine frock was first debuted in Los Angeles while on tour in 2011. However, I still consider its most successful wear to be to a reception for the GREAT campaign in 2012. Kate had her hair in a chignon and the dress clung to her curves perfectly. If you look up va va voom in the dictionary, this is the picture you will find:

Today, the tour of stunning venues continued with Spencer House, although the most we can really see is a glimpse of those enviable gold pillars in the background of a few of the interior shots. 

Spencer House is the historical London home of the Spencers and still belongs to Earl Spencer, the brother of the late Princess of Wales, although he rents it out. Still, Kate was in something of a family home. What a life. :)

Spencer House UK

Kate debuted this new hairstyle while in India. It seemed just the right relaxed and almost whimsical tone for her her boho ensembles and interactions with kids. I didn't expect to see her use it back home in London, but I like it! It has a casual and youthful vibe, that allows her to leave her hair down, but doesn't obstruct the view of her beautiful face. Plus, we didn't have to search high and low for a good look at her earrings! 

Both recycles were wins for me. The Michael Kors coat is so flattering on her and the Roksanda Ilincic has always been a win, although nothing tops that 2012 wear. Perhaps what I loved the most was the Nina clutch that Kate had. Apparently, it is not available yet in the leather Kate is carrying, although the style is available in other textures and colors, several of which are on sale. The coat doesn't match the dress, which was a little weird at the Magic Garden, but not too distracting. She very clearly distinguished the two events, which I always appreciate, and I am sure the different organizations did, too.  Kate had one final event today, a date with Vogue at the NPG. That will be covered in the next post coming up shortly!

Kate is a Cover Girl! The Duchess's Debut on Vogue's June Issue

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I think Kate's transformation to international princess is complete. The Duchess of Cambridge will appear on the June cover of the fashion world's ultimate Bible, Vogue, in a relaxed and natural, but endlessly posh shoot in her new home turf of Norfolk, England.  These images were taken at Sandringham in January of this year and the entire shoot benefits from the clear cool light of winter and the earth tones of the dormant countryside. 

I remember when Kate first became a duchess she was, of course, a cover girl multiple times over, but I recall wondering during her glamorous entrance at the ARK Gala, if and when she would do a sanctioned shoot for a major publication such as Vogue. At the time, it didn't seem likely, and indeed we have waited five years for her to agree. 

This shoot is one more step into the limelight for Kate, and it signifies how comfortable she has become as a royal and how much she has grown in that role. I think when Kate first married she was such a glitzy celebrity to her legion of fans, that she could not have done a photo shoot without it feeling a little Kardashian-esque. Perish the thought. The royal spokesman almost issued an excuse for this shoot, making clear Kate has never done something like this before. We know, we know. It's a very exciting first:
Since 1916, Vogue has been a leading champion of British portraiture. The Duchess was delighted to play a part in celebrating the centenary of an institution that has given a platform to some of the most renowned photographers in this country's history. She is incredibly grateful to the team at Vogue and at the NPG for asking her to take part. She would like to thank Josh Olins for being such a pleasure to work with. The Duchess had never taken part in a photography shoot like this before. She hopes that people appreciate the portraits with the sense of relaxed fun with which they were taken.
The royals are supposed to have a certain gravitas and history behind them, and they shy away from anything that could smack of cheap fame. Five years on, these images of Kate, in her country element, ooze a sophistication and glamour that will last across the decades. 

The images of Kate were taken as part of Vogue's centenary exhibition celebrating 100 years of style, currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Two headshots of the Duchess are on display, and Kate will be at the gallery on Wednesday to see the pictures for herself. The National Portrait Gallery is one of Kate's patronages and she has been a frequent visitor throughout her five royal years. The gallery had the distinction of displaying her first official commissioned portrait in 2013, so this shoot is a continuation of a strong relationship between the Duchess and the NPG. Below, Vogue's editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman, poses next to the portraits at the NPG. Doesn't that look like one of Suzannah's tea-dresses? A little tip of the hat to her cover girl's favorite "Budding Hearts" frock? 

Kate was not a passive participant in this shoot and she had a say in what she wore and even the composition of some of the photos. She wore British brand Burberry and slipped in a red Breton top by Petit Bateau, which melded beautifully with the warm earth tones around her, and maintained her style and personality. The most striking part of this shoot, however, is Kate's change in make-up. According to The Telegraph's Gordon Rayner, this is the first time Kate has allowed a professional to do her make-up. The MU artist persuaded Kate to forego her trademark eyeliner and blush, which is part of what makes these images really stand out. The Telegraph notes:
Kate has a love of strong eyeliner, famously doing her own for her wedding. This time, the make-up artist Sally Branka, who has previously worked with Emma Watson on a Vogue cover, has given her heavier eyebrows, a healthy peachiness and a softer line on the eyes.
The June issue should have several more images of Kate. I predict (hardly going out on a limb here) it will sell like mad both in Britain and around the world. We don't have long to wait, either, since the issue hits stands on the 5th of May. 

We will see Kate at the NPG this Wednesday on what will be a packed day of engagements for her. If you didn't see this morning's post, the Cambridges released new images of Princess Charlotte to commemorate her birthday tomorrow. See that post here

Princess Charlotte's First Birthday Photoshoot

Norfolk has been a hopping place for a photo shoot recently. Just after her mother unveiled her debut appearance for prestigious fashion magazine Vogue, photos of Charlotte from her 1st Birthday photo shoot were released by Kensington Palace to mark the little princess's birthday tomorrow.

As with previous shoots, this set was snapped at Anmer Hall in Norfolk by the Duchess of Cambridge herself.  Charlotte is featured in four separate photos that capture her at play and in a more serious and thoughtful mood, which seems to be a hallmark of Kate's babies. Charlotte's expression in this photo in particular reminds me of her brother George.

Charlotte is a remarkable mix of Windsor and Middleton. Although she looked thoroughly Windsor on her grandmother's lap in the photo taken by Annie Leibovitz, these portraits reveal a more balanced baby. I see shades of both families. 

Fans are excited to see that another member of the family made it into this photo shoot. Loping about in the background while Charlotte plays is the family's beloved dog Lupo. Kate's spaniel hasn't been seen for a while now, but I think that is simply because we didn't get many polo outings last summer and now the couple have moved from Anglesey, where paparazzi shots were a little more usual, they have more privacy at Anmer. Lupo was supposedly in the original Christmas photo as well, but when the picture was cropped, he was cut. 

As always, Kate has done a beautiful job, but I think this photo set is her best presentation yet. Kate has experimented more with the "props" and the location, photographing Charlotte on chairs, next to chairs, and in variety of moods. The change of scenery is really nice, and this action shot in the garden is an especially fun deviation. At first glance it seems Charlotte is wearing the same little dress, sweater, and bow, but if you look a little more closely you'll see that she is wearing a pink colorway and a blue one! This bodes well for the future--we have many darkling little ensembles to look forward to. 

Charlotte certainly has grown since we first got a glimpse of her on the steps of the Lindo! I was so thrilled that morning when they announced that Kate had had a little princess. I was so ready for little dresses and ribbons and bows, and we have not been disappointed. Although the Cambridges have been careful to keep Charlotte out of the public eye, I hope this year, as she gets a little more ambulatory, we will see more of her, and I suspect we will! If the royals follow the same pattern they did with George, this summer will have fun surprises. 

I am really interested to hear who you think Charlotte resembles! When she was born I thought she was every inch a Middleton/Cambridge, but recent photos of her suggest she heavily favors the Windsors and particularly the Queen, but in today's set I thought we saw a little more Middleton peeking through, although I still think the Windsors have the stronger influence. What are you all seeing?!

Happy Sunday! I will be blogging about Kate's Vogue cover shortly!