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William, Harry, and Kate Remember Princess Diana at Kensington Palace

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Twenty years ago today Diana was staying at the Ritz in the Place Vendôme. She dined with Dodi al-Fayed and was scheduled to fly back to London the the next morning. Shortly after the bells struck midnight, however, she was in a chauffeured Mercedes racing along the dark Seine. Diana was just across from the Eiffel Tower, which had been sparkling a mere twenty-three minutes before, as it does every night at midnight, when her driver lost control and slammed into a pillar in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel. Because Diana survived the crash and did not expire until 4am, both days are caught up in the horror and tragedy of her death. It is interesting that William and Harry chose today, the last full day she lived, the day that set in motion a continuum that ended in her death, and the last day they went to bed with their world intact, as the day they paid public tribute to her memory. 

Duchess Kate at Crathie Kirk During Scottish Holiday

Sunday, August 20, 2017

We were just talking about Kate's hats on Wednesday (Hats Off to Jane Corbett) and several commenters mentioned they hoped Kate would trend toward larger hats. Those of you who agreed will be pleased to see that the Duchess of Cambridge has recycled her Tiffany hat on her way to a Sunday service this morning at Crathie Kirk, Balmoral.

Hats Off To Jane Corbett & Her Designs for Kate

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Yesterday morning I was surprised and saddened to see one of my favorite milliners announce she is hanging up her hat after 21 years in the business. Kate has a number of milliners to whom she turns for her many beautiful toppers, but Jane Corbett has always been one of my absolute favorites. The Princess has been wearing her hats since before her marriage, and as we say goodbye to Jane Corbett, let's look back at Kate's best hats from this remarkably talented artist.

We all know the pressure we feel dressing to meet the family for the first time, and I can only imagine how Kate felt as, in 2008, she chose her ensemble for Peter and Autumn's wedding. Although Kate had been dating William for some years, it was at that wedding that the royal girlfriend was finally introduced to Her Majesty. Kate picked a tasteful, dark hat from Jane Corbett featuring a birdcage veil. The style is a little unusual for Kate, but was the perfect blend of glamor and demure for a pretty red letter day for Kate Middleton.  

In August of 2009, Kate wore one of her most famous ensembles to the wedding of Nicholas van Cutsem. I think most everyone knows the Troughton coat, but it isn't as widely known that the hat was a Jane Corbett piece. You can see the foreshadowing of several of Kate's subsequent hats in this design.

Shortly after her marriage, the Duchess attended a service at St. Georges Chapel, Windsor, to celebrate Prince Philip's 90th birthday. She recycled her Zara pleated dress and the gorgeous Jane  Troughton paisley coat, and added a new percher from Corbett. This is not my favorite Jane Corbett hat. She created a number of hats in this general style (we will be seeing them shortly) and I feel the flat and simple style sell her creativity short.  Nevertheless, it was fun to see Kate turn to Jane Corbett to find a second hat for this coat. 

In September of 2011, Kate attended the wedding of friends wearing a red ensemble and a red hat by Jane Corbett that looked like it was a variation on the topper she wore to Peter and Autumn's big day. She ditched the birdcage on this one, which was a good choice given how busy the lace dress was, but the structure is still the same. 

Two months later, Kate debuted three absolute smash hits. In my opinion, these three hats are among her absolute best and they eptomize Jane Corbett's incredible eye for detail and her ability to create fresh and bold designs. The first of this smash hit trio made its debut on Remembrance Sunday in 2011.  This dressed up trilby was unexpected and a smash hit. 

The next month, Kate joined the Royal Family at Sandringham for her first public walk to St. Mary Magdalene on Christmas morning. I am sure that the excitement of seeing Kate on her first Christmas morning as a royal contributed to the memorability of the hat, but this aubergine topper (in a similar vein to the Remembrance Sunday hat) was another unusual piece and an almost equally huge success.

Like the Remembrance Sunday hat, it had a panache and a vintage quality that we have since observed Kate develop quite a bit throughout the rest of her fashion. To me, both these hats have an 18th century vibe, almost like a toned down version of some of the hats that the Duchess of Devonshire wears in the Keira Knightley historical drama "The Duchess." 

The third and final hat in this iconic trio debuted the next summer, May of 2012. Kate ricocheted from the embellished trilby to a classically feminine style, that nevertheless incorporated unusual and striking style elements. It was the lacey pink piece Kate wore to her first summer garden party at Buckingham Palace.

I loved every element from the barely-there pink to the unusual structure and busy lace overlay--this was a hat fit for a princess, and a design that showcased Jane Corbett's beautiful scope of talent. 

Kate's next three Jane Corbett's worked off of that flatter design first worn at Philip's birthday service. Kate wore an ice-blue disc percher with looping embellishments to Trooping in 2012. This hat really balanced the disc style well by adding the bows both to the top that tilted down Kate's forehead, but also an the back. It was well balanced and flattering on Kate.

Jane Corbett actually created two hats for this beautiful embroidered Erdem dress. Kate wore the first (above) to Trooping, but she wore a second hat, also by Corbett, to a September wedding the same year. 


Jane Corbett shared a picture of both the hats "under construction" sitting by a sample of the fabric.

At the time, she shared that the hat Kate wore to the wedding is one of her favorites! She wrote on her blog: 
So lovely to see HRH The Duchess of Cambridge wearing on of my creations at a wedding on Saturday. A soft grey straw trimmed with organdie that I embroidered to match the embroidery on the dress……I so enjoyed creating this piece, one of my favourite hats!
Kate must have liked the Trooping hat quite a bit, because she followed it up with an almost identical creation at her 2013 garden party appearance while pregnant with George. 

Although these hats are almost the same, I didn't love it the way I loved the icy blue at Trooping in 2012. I think these heavily angled hats are very sensitive. You really have to get the tilt just right, and I am not sure she did on this outing. 

Kate's final Jane Corbett hat debuted in 2014. It was a bespoke piece that blended the disc hats and her wildly popular pink lace hat. Life just isn't always fair, and although the marriage of these two designs should have resulted in something wonderful, it left me feeling a little flat. 

I never thought this would be the last Jane Corbett Kate debuted, and for myself, I don't feel it did her justice, but I guess those are the breaks. It wasn't a terrible hat, but Jane Corbett's talents should never have been spent on these very simple disc hats. I guess no one asked me. ;)

I do not flatter or overstate how exceptional those earlier three hats were and remain in Kate's closet. Although she currently favors the straight-forward Jane Taylor percher (no detriment to this style, or JT, it's beautiful and flattering)...

Jane Taylor fashion heart does beat a little faster when she switches it up, whether it is with a John Boyd picture hat (a milliner I consider Jane Corbett's style counterpart)...

John Boyd

...or a Philip Treacy (that was a big and welcome surprise!) angled disc hat...

...or a Jane Taylor piece that steps out of the usual mold:

Jane Corbett was genius at breaking the mold. Hats shouldn't be crazy, but they should make enough of a statement to warrant their presence. In that department, Jane Corbett at her best just couldn't be beat. When I think of the many happy years royal watching and blogging about Kate, Jane Corbett stands out as one of the designers that made those early times so special. I will truly miss her one of kind influence on Kate's closet. I know so many of my readers join me in wishing Ms. Corbett the very best as she ends such a hugely successful run. From one Jane to another, God bless you on your way.

Kate's Wimbledon Tribute in Red Armani

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Last month Kate was a one of a number of guests featured on BBC's documentary Our Wimbledon. The Duchess of Cambridge's interview is very close to the end, likely by design, and is another fun insight into the "real" Kate. Although pretty short, inn many ways, this is probably her most relaxed and most personal interview to-date, because she truly is deeply passionate about tennis and always has been. To hear her discuss the sport and reminisce on her pre-princess experiences with the game is really a fun insight for fans. 

Among other things, Kate remarked that Wimbledon inspires young people, and inspired her to get involved in tennis. Although I don't play really well, I do play tennis and really enjoy it. I took it up initially when I was in high-school because Kate played...and everyone knows what a dedicated Kate fan I am. :) I remember how excited I was to see photos of Kate playing tennis while on Christmas holiday with her family. She sued the paparazzi photographer who took the shots, but gosh they were so fun to see, and pushed me even more to take lessons and to play the game. And I bought a grey repliKate sweater, natch. So, Kate was has been promoting tennis for years, even when she didn't realize she was doing it! 

Catherine of England FB

I sped through the program, watching the highlights, although if you have time, it looks well worth watching in its entirety. I was interested to learn that the Members' Lounge is transformed every year into the Royal Box where the royals host their guests and, of course, sit at Centre Court. The seats are added specifically for the tournament. I know my die-hard Wimbledon fans will be nodding "duh" but it was news to me!

Sue Barker, the host, interviewed Roger Federer who commented on the Cambridges. He said, "It adds even more prestige to the tournament, seeing Princess Catherine there, seeing Prince William. Who knows, in the future, maybe we will see somebody of those people giving the Wimbledon trophy as well. That would be beautiful I think."

Link below with Thanks to Cara W. for sharing it with me on Facebook!

Kate kicked her bit off by revealing an obviously badly kept secret--that Roger Federer is her mother Carole's heartthrob. She quickly followed that comment by remarking that Roger knows that, too.   The familiarly with which Kate made these reflections highlighted her Cinderella story. Because Carole is socially acquainted with the tennis great, of course, who attended Pippa's celebrity stuffed wedding in July. I just love this whole Middleton family story. 

Growing up, Kate said her family watched Wimbledon and it feels "a quintessential part of an English summer." I like that she then pointed out nothing has changed at Wimbledon, "everyone is still there in their whites. Wimbledon still looks as amazing as I remember it." It is good to hear her pay tribute to continuity and tradition, since her family is in the business of continuity and tradition. Some things should always stay the same--the British Monarchy's traditions and Wimbledon. 

Kate described the first time she went to the championships. She said she queued up on People's Sunday or Monday. She got in quite late, but happily "play went on quite late, and I managed to get to see some."

The princess still sounds disappointed to have missed Andy Murray's big win in 2013 when she was prohibited from attending by her doctors. She delivered George a mere fifteen days later. I remember wondering if she'd make a surprise appearance and was disappointed when she did not.

Kate recycled a red suit by prestigious Italian label Armani. She first wore this in April at the Global Academy, and because I never did a full post for that event (thank you, law school) I will take this opportunity to review that event and those photos now.

This event came in the run-up to the London Marathon when William, Harry, and Kate were making their final push to promote their mental health campaign. The Global Academy trains young people for careers in broadcast and media, and the trio toured the facilities where various shows were broadcasting, as well as visiting classrooms and meeting some of the students.


Kate's red Armani was by the label's diffusion line, although when Armani creates a "cheaper" collection it's only *so* reduced. When I first got a peak at this suit, I thought Kate had chosen a jacket with ruched jacket.

Global Academy

I don't love ruching, because although it is supposed to flatter, I have rarely found it accomplish that goal. On closer inspection, however, it was readily apparent that this jacket featured that most loved feature of Kate's clothes, exterior tailoring. I love these sharp, exposed pleats.

Heads Together

This suit has so much va va voom because it has quite a bit of stretch. It's not too tight--it hangs nicely at rest--but in motion, it cures at all the right places. Red is a sexy color, but the stretch in this suit is doing the yeoman's work to produce the wow factor.

I wonder if this suit will, like the blue Rebecca Taylor, become a workhorse of the media events. It is a good bold color for television and a professional look that doesn't age her. On verrra.  I will try to get that post up on the tour soon, and a little note about the Meghan post, too. It seems like there is always a delay. Today I was stuck at work an extra hour because there was an active shooter scare at a building close to my office. They secured the other building, but it wasn't clear if there was a shooter wandering the street. I decided to stay right where I was and keep working until the sirens died away. 2017, kids, what can I say. A world where "potential active shooter" is literally an excuse for being behind. Le sigh. Talk soon! JCB

Meghan Markle Jets to Africa with Harry

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Yesterday, August 4, was Meghan Markle's birthday and to celebrate, Harry has whisked her away to Africa for a little vacation time. The Sun had the scoop yesterday, revealing a number of pictures of the two deplaning looking super in love, per usual. They really make a handsome couple.  

The Sun 
According to Emily Andrews' exclusive, Meghan wrapped filming the latest season of Suits in Toronto and then flew to London, where she presumably met Harry, and the two continued on to Africa from there. Meghan was in London just last week accompanied by her mom, and although I am sure she was showing her mom all her favorite places, I also wonder if her mom was also scoping out the area for a move of her own.