Kate arrived tonight at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane dressed to impress in a scarlet midi dress by Marchesa Notte. The Duchess of Cambridge was out to watch the London revival of New York's classic 42nd Street in Drury Lane on behalf of EACH, which was benefiting the Nook Appeal this opening night.
Kate has been patron of EACH since 2012, it was one of her first patronages. The Nook Appeal is the capital campaign Kate launched in 2014 while pregnant with Charlotte and again promoted last summer with an exclusive house party at Houghton Hall.
In this picture of Kate arriving, you can see that across the street the sign says Nell of Old Drury. That's a pub, but it is a reference to Nell Gwyn who was a very famous mistress of Charles II.
|42nd Street London|
Nell's origins are disputed, but many believe she was born and raised in the Drury Lane area where her mother ran a brothel. When Charles II came to the throne, theatre had been banned for some time as a frivolous pastime, but the king restored it. Charles authorized two different acting companies, one of which became the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. Nell worked at the Theatre where she became a member of the troupe. From there she mingled with society's upper echelons, ran through a series of affairs, and ultimately ended with the king. So, the theatre has a bit of royal history to it. :) Anyway, Nell of Old Drury, the pub not the prostitute, had a great view of all the excitement and shared some candid snaps:
That's a lot of photographers.
|Nell of Old Drury Pub|
I have noticed in the past few events that Kate has been accompanied by Sophie Agnew, of course, but also by Miguel Head, William's private secretary. You can see them both here kibitzing behind Kate in the Royal Box. Next to them, on our right, is one of Kate's primary PPOs. He is obviously on his phone, probably checking the blog wondering when I am going to give him a nickname and an identity for the FBTB community.
This preview of the show demonstrates what a toe-tapping night it must have been for all present:
42nd Street is a major American musical, as probably every educated reader knows, and was made into a movie in the 1930s. Eight year old Jane danced to Lullaby of Broadway in grade school ballet & tap class. I hope Kate gets Charlotte into ballet and tap, too, as soon as she is old enough!
Speaking of tap shoes....As patron of EACH on this fundraising night, Kate took to the stage where she was presented with a pair of tap shoes of her own!
Let's talk about the fashion. The Duchess debuted a new dress and a new label to her closet in this claret cocktail dress by Marchesa Notte. It took me a while to decide if it was conservative and edgy. It is, after all, a little sheer in places. When Kate got out of the car, we got a most definite limb line.
Part of the problem in deciding what was up with this dress was this bizarre photo confusion. There are two different product shots of this dress circling the inter-web. This first composite features a more exposed and obvious corset-bodice and an only barely finished hem. It kind of looks like someone grabbed a fishing net and made it into a skirt...
This second product shot, which looks like Kate's tonight, features a more subtle bodice and smoother and more polished skirt, a thick, reinforced hem, which several retailers have described as an element that keeps the full volume of the skirt on display.
So, I don't know why there is an inconsistency. There are retailers selling both styles, so it isn't just that Marchesa toned down the dress when they moved it from the runway to the retailer. Mystère et boule de gomme.
In any event, tonight's style is one Kate has really favored recently. It is right in line with her very popular Preen cocktail dress. Of course where the Preen modernized and streamlined the 40's silhouette, tonight's Marchesa didn't hold back.
It's like Kate finished binge watching The Crown and said to Natasha Archer, "Get me that look." (Artistic license--I think Kate does most of her shopping herself.)
Kate was on a roll tonight, also debuting Kate Spade tassel earrings. Although she has been relatively subdued with her earrings over the past five years, Kate favored all manner of busy and over-sized pieces before her marriage. These tassels kind of look like she snatched them from a lamp in the State Apartments. They also remind me of something Scarlett O'Hara might have worn to meet Rhett at the Yankee jail or possibly something Judith would have chosen for her little rendezvous with Holofernes. Point--these are decadent and made to make a statement. They worked tonight at the storied Drury Lane, and for the occasional pop of personality, I'm up for them. But I wouldn't want them to catch on too much.
The Duchess finished off her look with her Mulberry Bayswater and her Gianvito Rossi pumps, both in burgundy. I don't know how this is going to fly with my caucus of readers opposed to red and burgundy mixing, but.. I know you will weigh in. ;)
What is the verdict? Obviously a win. I liked every aspect of this ensemble, not the least of which is the simple fact that Kate debuted another designer label. In May of last year I wrote this detailed analysis of Kate's evolving style. I hypothesized that Kate turned a corner after Charlotte's birth and that we were in for a lot more designer debuts:
When Kate returned to the scene in September of 2015 we saw what was perhaps the most important shift to-date. It was not so much a style shift as a change in her approach. Kate's (real) first week back saw her debut a succession of new pieces in very short order. Her dress from The Fold for a visit to HMP Send was the moment she truly tipped us off that there was a new modus operandi. Kate was looking beyond her usual go-to labels, in greater quantity, and in a far shorter timeframe than ever before...I think the moment I knew for certain this was a new era was when Kate wore the floral Erdem to the Hundred Women in Hedge Funds gala. It was designer, it was loud and bold, it was a risk.
We have seen that develop and play out over the past year. From new styles to new labels, Kate is branching out. I really loved the honeycomb/waffle illusion of tonight's dress, too. Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed by Kate's embellished dresses, but I particularly love this use of tulle to create patterns.
We see Kate tomorrow in a completely different mood and event as she joins Harry and William at Westminster for a Service of Hope in the wake of the horrific attack on Westminster Bridge and Parliament.