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.