Yesterday, Kate was at the Islington Town Hall for an event hosted by Chance UK, a charity that runs early intervention programs targeted at primary-schoolers at risk of developing antisocial or criminal behavior. It is a charity that fits into the broader umbrella of "youth wellness," a cause on which Kate, William, and Harry are very focused. As you already know, in addition to her charity work, the Duchess had a surprise for fashion fans:
Kate dug way back (can we really already be saying that?) into the royal archives to pull this charming dress she first debuted in early 2012. When I peruse Kate's past ensembles in my mind, and wonder what I would like to see recycled, I have paused on this dress more than once. It is by Irish designer Orla Kiely and Kate first wore it on an engagement at the Dulwich Picture Gallery with Charles and Camilla.
Kate has only worn Orla Kiely a few times. There are a number labels whichever received similar and limited exposure, but for the most part they don't stick in my mind as strongly. Orla Kiely, however always has been a name that bubbles up in my head when I think about designers connected with the princess. I think she is a spectacular designer and I love her very simple, but whimsical, interesting, and feminine designs. The Duchess has worn two of the label's dresses, this "Grey Daisy" dress and the "Birdie Wool Jacquard" dress, which she has recycled already. She has worn another piece not as quickly spotted, but I will leave that for you to guess about in the comments. :)
I think that first year of Kate's marriage, while we were still all on the wedding high and sort of getting to know her public persona, was a very special time, and there is no doubt in my mind that it was a golden era of fashion for her. To everything, there is a season (great John Rutter piece, by the way, one my favorites) and the verse is applicable to fashion. Kate is in a different--and very good--phase today, but that first year or so was a style-period of its own. Kate was really showcasing a youthful look. She was transitioning from Miss Middleton to a senior royal and she really merged those two to perfection. This dress was a factor:
So, this was a very exciting recycle for me. I very frankly wasn't sure we'd ever see it again, and I think it is a beautiful dress. I know there are a lot of you out there who are just as excited as I!
What do we always ask from a recycle? Variety. The best way for Kate to switch up her look is to change her hairstyle (usually this calls for a ponytail) and sometimes to add jewelry. For this recycle, she put her hair up, which I applaud, but let the dress speak for itself and added no jewelry. Again, smart move. Her voluminous hair obscured some of the daisy detailing on the first wear, and it was nice to see the dress unencumbered.
The event itself was a big success, and as usual, Kate showed up entirely prepped. There was an article in the Standard that described Kate's very pro-active involvement in ChanceUK:
Chance UK trustee Ruth Puttick said Kate was "lovely - very friendly and smily"."She knew her stuff," she added. "She was very warm and engaging. She was interested in the children that we serve and the impact it has on their lives. She was interested in how we recruit the mentors, and was impressed with the commitment they make over the course of a year supporting the young people, and interested in the day-to-day work itself."
Here Kate congratulates a 2005 graduate of the program now studying at Goldsmiths (University of London).
Kate paired the dress with black suede accessories: her Stuart Weitzman "Power" pumps, the Mulberry "Bayswater," and she wore her Annoushka Baroque Pearl drops and her Cartier watch.
The verdict, as you can imagine, is a good one. Kate's hair looked sleek and cute pulled into a pony, and it was so fun to see this darling dress in more detail. I loved the throw-back to 2012, and can't help but notice how great she looks in this dress...less than 6 months after Charlotte's birth! Anytime there is a recycle, it is hard not to have a favorite. A number of Kate's recycles have scored bigger points in my book than their respective debuts. For this dress, though, I still love the first wear. This is not because there is anything lacking in this second wear, but because that first time was so, so hard to beat. The below photo from that March morning remains an all time favorite of the glowing Duchess:
As I say, though, nothing was lacking in Islington and it was a strong sartorial win for HRH. Certainly, it was a special day for the children Kate met! The final comment in that article I quoted earlier made me smile. The trustee remarked:
"It's not every day you meet Kate Middleton."
It sure isn't. :) See you on the next post where I will finally weigh in on the 100 Women in Hedge Funds dress!