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Kate Shakes Up Her Sartorial Line-Up In Erdem at the V&A

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

When I was little some family member either lived or travelled to Hawaii and brought me back a muumuu. I loved my muumuu, it was in a bright, red floral print and featured long, ruffled tiers. I felt like a princess in it. When Kate stepped out for her 100 Women in Hedge Funds gala last night,  I discovered that my muumuu my muumuu grew up...and Kate is wearing it. Before we descend into fashion-debate chaos, let's get some fast facts in:

Last night, Kate was out and about in her capacity as royal patron of 100 Women in Hedge Funds. The evening was benefitting another one her charities, The Art Room, a name with which we are all very familiar because Kate gives it so much time and attention.  The gala was held at the Victoria and Albert--a stunning museum on the Brompton Road in Knightsbridge.  

Indulge me in a brief granny-tangent as I tell you how much I love this road and this area. The V&A is right by the Brompton Oratory, a Grade II Roman Catholic Church in the Neo-Classical style. I remember a girl from my hometown married a British aristocrat and they were wed at this church. The ceremony was featured our local society magazine and I was so excited to come across the pictures and find, as one of the groomsmen, Prince Harry! 

The Oratory has a number of prestigious choirs, but their boys' choir is especially noted. They perform with the Royal Ballet and were featured on several of the Harry Potter soundtracks. Just down the street from the church and museum is Patisserie Valerie. My mom, sister, and I stopped here one afternoon in London, and I still dream about those marzipan covered cakes. If you are in London, take a stroll down this street, savor the sweets, browse the antiques, and pop into the V&A!

Last night, Kate was pictured in the Norfolk House Music Room, a stunning gallery at the V&A where the interior of a room from the Norfolk's London home has been reconstituted. I love this stuff. I love the French inspiration and ornate surroundings. 

According to the V&A:
Norfolk House was located on the west side of St James's Square and was the London residence of the Dukes of Norfolk from 1722 until it was demolished in 1938. Its music room was one of the earliest examples of a room in a grand house specifically set aside for music. After 1938, the cream of the contents of Norfolk House was removed to Arundel Castle, Sussex, but the panelling from the Music Room and the doorways from the Great Room, decorated with carved monkeys, were acquired by the V&A.
The 100 Women in Hedge Funds gala is always a glitzy affair and I was thrilled that Kate was this year's guest of honor. Let's transition to the fashion:

Kate shook things up by choosing a favorite label, but one she has never worn for black-tie event. She tapped Erdem, picking the "Alouette" dress from the current collection. The dress is made of silk-gazar and features a 1960s Japanese print. In theory, this is a fine dress. I love the deep pleats and you almost don't notice that ruffle in this photo:

There is theory and then there is reality. I am torn on this dress, but some things are incontrovertible. I would dislike this ruffle in the best of times. This isn't 1980 and Kate isn't 75 and snacking in her living room. Coupled with a very, very busy print, it is overwhelming. It needs to go. Also note that in the product shot, the transition from the skirt to the ruffle looks almost seamless, but in almost every photo of Kate, the that transition is far from smooth. It flares out in a distinct manner. In this shot--as Kate gives that final toss to her hair before the photo--you can see the ruffle really...sticks out like bubble skirt.  

Not to overly critique this, but I also felt that the dress was short-waisted on Kate. She has such a long, lithe body and it can be really hard to make that work with off-the-rack pieces. I usually am not a stickler about this in daywear, but this dress is so structured, it stuck out a little more. 

So, those were the elements that were really throwing me. This was not, however, all bad. The love the structure, I love the bright colors, I love how different it is! I really love that she threw a new label at us--no offense McQueen and Jenny P. No one would have called this, and I relish that unexpectedness. I am thrilled Kate is shaking it up. (Below is some video of her arrival. Ignore the factual discrepancies from the narrator)

Good or bad, I was stoked to see Kate wearing an Erdem. Design aside, I love getting broader samplings of these designers. Seeing a new piece, or even better, as was the case here, a different category of dress, is always exciting. I am sure some of you quickly thought of the "Sophia" from Kate's visit to Willows Primary School while pregnant with George. Are they the same? No. Are they family?...for sure, and it is interesting to make the connections.

I have a final thought on this, but I am going to save it for a larger point I am going to make in a post next week. Stay tuned... :) Not to be a tease or anything. In the meantime, let's talk about those earrings! According to the knowledgable blogger over at The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour, and her companion blog Her Majesty's Jewel Vault, these earrings belonged to the Queen Mother and feature "sapphires surrounded by diamonds with a fringe of diamonds and small sapphires suspended below." She notes that there history is unknown. 

This seems to support the hypothesis that Kate's choice of jewelry is an indication that she is modeling her royal career on that of the Queen Mother's. Whether that is true or not, sapphires are always a win with me. I am a September baby, and of course, they are closely associated with Diana and now with Kate. I thought Kate wore them very well. 

The verdict. It's a hung jury. I guess on a purely objective basis, this was not a win. Don't tell anyone, but I was with a professor when I surreptitiously checked my phone and I barely stifled my choked cry when I saw the dress. So...that's not a good sign. On the other hand, I do love how completely different it is. It peps me up and excites me for her next event. I will say this: no woman on earth could have pulled this dress off better than Kate. And that, as they say in old movies, is the Bible truth.

This is the first time in recent memory that I have not gotten posts up on the same day. I do apologize for the delay. Monday was so busy with two Kate events and my usual workload, but I had a special deadline this morning and I had to work late into last night. Blogging just wasn't on the table. I was so disappointed yestedary as I saw a few photos as I rushed here and there, but I certainly looked forward to this evening's time here. Thanks for the messages of concern. It is good to be missed. :) I have a back-log of emails on a variety of topics and business, but will be getting to your messages as soon as I can!  Yesterday was law school's first victim, and although it is the first time I had to push blogging to focus on my academics, I have a feeling it will not be the last. That being said, I don't anticipate it will happen often. I am a super scheduler, and in general, with adequate planning, things run relatively smoothly. Knock on wood. Thanks everyone for dropping by to read, despite the tardy posting. 

See you soon...I hope! :) 

Kate Recycles Popular Orla Kiely Daisy Dress for Chance UK

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!

Kate Wears Blue, Bespoke Jenny Packham for Spectre Premiere

Monday, October 26, 2015

When you think of Princess Diana's evening gowns they are many and diverse, and style-era aside, always glamorous. Many of her most famous dresses and evening appearances were at film premieres. For whatever reason, perhaps the blend of Hollywood royalty with real royalty, film openings always up the glam factor an bring out the bling. So, for her appearance at the world premiere of the James Bond film Spectre, I knew Kate would be out to wow. 

I watched her arrival live and I was confused for a minute when she got out of the car...was she wearing a shawl? What was going on here? It quickly became evident that the gown featured a revealing, halter top base with a filmy chiffon overlay that featured a cross-over bodice and a slashed back:

The dress is a bespoke piece by Jenny Packham, and bears her signature marks. I don't want to speak for everyone, but...I think everyone believes the inspiration for this dress sprang from this runway piece:

If the dress seems familiar, it is a little. Kate's Beulah London "Sabitri" dress is almost the exact same color, features a similar demure chiffon overlay, and similar buttons :

Since these are two different designers, it seems that the common element is Kate, although the presentation on this dress is different, it is obviously related to the hugely popular teal dress from "Our Greatest Team Rises" gala, which also features an virtually "open" back, buttons, and detailing at the base of the spine:

In some respects, I felt like this dress melded Princess Kate with Kate Middleton. If you remove the chiffon overlay and change the base to pink, you are kind of left with the pink Issa from back in the day:

A brief break from the fashion for a few important photos. First, I know there has been some worry that Mr. Security hasn't been sighted in some time. What would a Bond premiere be without our own favorite 007? Let not your hearts be troubled, he was on the job tonight. You can also see Rebecca Deacon on the right in the background:

I also have to note how much I love Rachel Weisz. Stunningly beautiful with a quiet and down-to-earth presence. Daniel Craig is a lucky guy. The photo almost deserves a caption contest...maybe the Fug Girls can put their talents to it. :) 

Back to Kate! She recycled her Jimmy Choo "Vamp" pumps, but she debuted a new clutch, the "Casa" from Jenny Packham. 

...and who could miss her earrings? 

Anna instantly recognized these as the Robinson Pelham earrings that Carole wore for Kate's wedding reception. These stunners feature blue topazes and diamonds in a white gold and they retail at an eye-watering £14,300. 

They were, after all, purchased for the wedding of the decade. You likely recall that Robinson Pelham created jewelry for all the Middletons on that beautiful April 29th, including the future Princess of the United Kingdom herself.

So...what did I think. I had to think a little about it (Well, you've had plenty of time, I can hear you retort) and I really like this dress. Once I got my bearings on it, and saw a few high-definition photos, I really, really liked it. The single word that sums up Kate's appearance tonight is: exotic. 

I thought the dress looked Middle Eastern in some respects. The folds across the bodice, the gathers along the base of he neck, the fluttering sleeves and translucent chiffon... The buttons and beading. Even Kate's hair had a new twist, the bangs change up her usual (gorgeous) chignon, but tonight it was a fuller and bolder updo. The vibe reminded me just a little of Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco

This dress feels gorgeous. Can't you tell by looking at it how glamorous this would feel be on? She is both swathed in fabric, yet still showing skin. It is was reserved, yet sultry at the same time. 

There are a few elements I might tweak. I love Jenny Packham, but she has shown some dresses that  have suffered just slightly from too little tailoring. If I could change one thing about this dress, I would take a little extra fabric out of the front of the bodice. But, overall, this is a huge win in my book. I think that this has skyrocketed to one of my favorite evening gowns in Kate's closet. 

As you may have heard, Kate took Prince George to the Natural History Museum on the 22nd of October. The Princess and her little Prince could not have looked more adorable. Kate was dressed in her Zara crops and a sweater top, and George looked as well-dressed as you would expect the child of Kate Middleton--let alone a royal--to look. He is drop-dead adorable. 


The Duchess has been to the museum on more than one occasion in an official capacity, but this little moment between mother and son outranks any of those formal appearances. Super cute! 

Kate Wears Tabitha Webb to "Shaun the Sheep" Charities Forum Morning

I know you want to jump straight into the Spectre premiere, so do I, but we can't short-change this morning's very cute event. The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry were at BAFTA in London earlier for an event sponsored by their Charities Forum. I was not able to follow the event live, so when I finally sat down and began to sift through the pictures, I came across this one and I thought, "what in the world went on today?!" Lots of laughter and fun, that's what. 

The theme of the morning was Shaun the Sheep, an animated children's series that is currently being made into a movie. I can't say I am an expert on the genre or the particular show, but I (now) know this it is quite popular, and apparently Prince George is a fan. Children from various royal charities came together for the fun-filled morning, which included watching a 30-minute short of an upcoming Shaun the Sheep episode?? I'll be totally honest with you...I didn't do a lot of research on Shaun the Sheep. Honesty is the best policy, they say. I can give my input on this photo. William is thinking: "Part of my job is to watch a 30-minute Shaun the Sheep short. The places life will take you." Kate is thinking about how she'll give George the insider's preview of his favorite program. Harry is thinking about...which cufflinks he'll wear to the Bond premiere. 

Treats, games, and creative play were part of the morning. I thought this was a fun video of the royal trio trying to knock the farmer's head off with a wellie. Guess who wins?


They had fun. :)

Among other things, the Duchess made a short little video using green-screen technology. 

Kensington Palace released the video and you can watch it here:

Ok, on to fashion... Kate debuted a new dress! I know there has been a lot of talk about her new pieces recently, and I actually have some comments to make on it, but I have decided to save it for another post, both because I very frankly don't have enough time at this exact moment, but I also believe it merits its own post. Look for that next week. For the moment, this is a new dress from Tabitha Webb, and I am a big fan!

You are already familiar with Tabitha Webb, even if you don't know it. Most prominently, Pippa collaborated with the designer to do a scarf and a dress in aid of the British Heart Foundation. When the pictures were released of Pips modeling the pieces, the below really caught my eye. I thought at the time, and I maintain still that I it is the most beautiful photos of Pippa I have ever seen. I truly loved it. I love her smile, her natural and unassuming pose, the styling of the scarf with the shirt. She was picture perfect. 

Kate has (sort of) worn Tabitha Webb before. Project D is a label created by Tabitha Webb and Danni Minogue and the Duchess wore one of their dresses for her trip to SouthEast Asia. Nevertheless, I think distinctions should be made between labels, and this is a designer debut for Kate! 

I really liked today's dress. It was in the style of some of the Suzannah dresses Kate and Pippa have worn. I would not usually be drawn to this pattern, it is a little too eclectic for me, but perhaps because this event was centered around children and learning, it felt appropriate to me. It certainly was in Kate's color scheme of blue and black. If I had my druthers, I would order it up in another color, but it worked.  

In every other respect, it is absolutely lovely. Made from 100% silk with Kate's favorite 3/4 length sleeves and and a fitted bodice, it was perfectly flattering on the Duchess.  She paired the dress with black suede pumps by Jimmy Choo, her black suede Bayswater clutch, and her sapphire and diamond drops. I know some of you have been less than pleased with Kate's penchant for suede, but I have to admit I love suede. I thought this was a lovely ensemble. 

We don't give a lot of love to the Duke. This photo was particularly charming, and I wanted to share it. In fact, I am instituting a new element of each post where we will highlight the best/cutest,most handsome, yadayada picture of William. This won out for the inaugural post:

Final verdict. Kate looked lovely. I loved the way she had parted her hair, I loved the longer length of this dress which added just a touch of vintage to a modern print, and of course, I loved the implicit support of her sister. Pippa close collaboration with Tabitha Webb probably steered Kate in this direction, and she knew we would all make the connection. I love the family loyalty!

Certainly not to short-change this ensemble, but it feels like the appetizer to the Spectre main course. I can't wait to get to that post and it is up next. I promise I will do it tonight, but it will be some...hours. Sorry, this kid has to study Torts before tackling Spectre. Some of you might need to check in tomorrow, but for the night is coming.

Duchess Kate Visits Dundee In Bespoke Christopher Kane

Friday, October 23, 2015

What a week! Kate kicked it off on Tuesday with her appearance at the State Banquet, glittering in the Queen's diamonds and wearing a stunning, bespoke gown from our favorite Jenny P. She quickly followed that up with a new label debut on Wednesday when she wore Dolce & Gabbana for the first time! The question was, of course, could the Duchess close the week on high? The bar was pretty high, but how could we doubt her? Kate and William were in Dundee today for a slew of engagements in the Scottish town and friends, this might be my favorite look of the week. 

The Duke & Duchess blended work and play for this Away Day. The couple travelled north to Scotland yesterday, and spent the night at Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews, the town in which they met and fell in love. The hotel commands a stunning view of the ocean and golf course.

Today they undertook a number of engagements that highlighted their campaign to promote a better understanding and support for people with mental health problems. 

During a lot of these events we get little tidbits about the Cambridges' life or individual personalities. Today, I was charmed to learn that Kate doesn't like computer games (nor do I). According to People, William remarked:

"I can't educate her, she's not interested."

Apparently, Kate had trouble getting the hang of it, but was able to enjoy a lightly more bucolic game:
A quieter game was shown the couple toward the end of their visit. Based on an intricate William Morris floral print, "Strawberry Thief" is activated by striking fingers over the face of a tablet computer as insects gather berries.
"Prince William said he could see how calm it was and that Kate would like it," the game's designer, Sophia George, 25, tells PEOPLE. "So that's definitely made my day."
I love her. A woman after my own heart. 

Kate also proved she is a hyprocite for love..aren't we all. 
Outside the Dundee Rep, Kate and William took the time to speak to several well-wishers, including a 28-year-old who asked Kate if William was still riding his motorcycle...She responded, “He’s still riding it. It always fills me with horror when he goes out on it,” continuing, “I’m terrified. Hopefully, I’m going to keep George off it.”
William loves his motorcycle, supposedly he enjoys the anonymity of the helmet, but let's be honest. he is a boy. He likes motorcycles because they I cannot speak to recent history, but certainly in the past Kate has been spotted riding with William around Anglesey. Still, a woman can ride a motorcycle and it can still fill her with horror. For some reason, this is an area we either can't win, or simply indulge for its adolescent enthusiasm. You know what they say: the only difference between men and the price of their toys. 

Often, when William and Kate undertake an engagement in an area they aren't usually in, they will schedule a cultural/tourist event. Today, they visited an historic ship, which seems appropriate given their love of sailing:

On to fashion. First let's talk about the look objectively. Do you remember once upon a time Kate wore a shiny blue coat from Christopher Kane? She debuted it at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Welcome Reception. I was...non-plussed. En fait, I disliked it very much. Shiny, odd structure, the list goes on...We didn't get any full length photos from that event, but I was not hopeful.

Kate recycled it at the Order of the Garter in 2014 and my worst fears were confirmed. This is a bespoke and heavily tailored coat. It should have been a smash hit, but it was such a disappointing flop. I shouldn't be too harsh. Kate can transform almost everything (except The Dreaded Moloh and the Reiss Delaney...). I didn't loathe it, but I didn't love it. Don't be fooled, these old dudes are swooning over Kate, not the coat:

We all have off days. We all have that moment where we walk into the mid-term feeling like a champ and leave feeling like a chimpanzee. Good news, you can recover, and that is just what Christopher Kane did today. He didn't just recover, he cleaned up. This bespoke coat is very much like his first creation, a veritable variation on a theme. He has tweaked a few elements and those changes have made all the difference. Most importantly, he changed the fabric.  This lighter material, in a delicate houndstooth, has more movement and is far more flattering than the first go-round:

He also changed some design elements. He gave a flare to the skirt and incorporated a loose lapel, which added an unusual and interesting element that gave the coat a soft and feminine edge. This was drop-dead gorgeous. Underneath the coat, Kate had a matching "kilt" skirt, obviously a nod to her Scottish surroundings. 

The skirt was in a matching houndstooth to Kate's coat, and featured the requisite pleats and over-sized buttons to qualify as a kilt:

Why did I love this ensemble? I loved this because it was Oh. So. Kate Middleton and it hearkened back to another time she walked the brisk streets of a Scottish town, in a turtleneck and those same Aquatalia boots, as she waved at fans:

When she took the coat off, the skirt and turtleneck reminded me so much of the old days. Kate had a real penchant for turtlenecks and mini-skirts, and it seems she hasn't lost the proclivity:

And, of course, it is in the black and blue style that Kate loves so much and does so very well:

Anytime William and Kate return to Scotland I get nostalgic. Not just for their romance, but for my own past, the furtive hours I spent as a teenager tracking Kate on the massive computer in my parents' bedroom, the excitement at a single picture every three or four months, my detailed repliKating...before that was a thing. Today, Kate displayed how she has changed, matured, evolved, what you will. She was more polished, and more perfect, but I saw so much of the girl she has been when we all were scanning the papers for the Mahiki and Whiskey Mist reports and wondering when, OH When, was William going to pop the question.

Some things haven't changed, though. The same enthusiasm she had as a bride-to-be, on the brink of a royal life... still present today:

And the joy and love we could saw between the freshly engaged couple, flushed with happines and excitement... now earning them the title of "Longest Running Honeymoon-Couple":

Life has odd twists and turns. On October 23, 2010 William and Kate--in the exact same color scheme, I might add--confidently walked into a little church in Gloucestershire with a very special glow. Unbeknownst to anyone, they were finally engaged to be married:

On October 23, 2012, in the glittering reception rooms of Buckingham Palace, HRH the Duchess of Cambridge, in her capacity as a senior royal of the British Royal Family, congratulated medalists of the Olympic and Paralympic Games:

On October 23, 2013 a radiant Kate carried her first-born child and the future king of England out of St. James's Chapel Royal after his christening:

On October 23, 2014, pregnant with Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, Kate lit up the pink carpet for Action on Addiction after battling through her crippling HG:

Today, October 23, 2015, Kate was back in Scotland carrying out multiple engagements and walkabouts with her Prince Charming, just a hop, skip, and a jump from where it all began. Yes, life has twists and turns. Thankfully, Kate continues to overcome every hurdle along the path of her happily ever after...