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Away Day in Sunderland in D&G

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

William and Kate spent Wednesday in the northeast of the country on an Away Day in Sunderland. The couple were booked to see an historic firehouse that has been converted into a new cultural center, and to visit a new bridge that is under construction in the area--the Northern Spire. The Duchess arrived with a big smile on her face and wearing a bespoke Dolce & Gabbana coat.

The couple undertook a walkabout to greet the fans who had gathered.

The firehouse has languished for many years in disrepair, but is now a hive of activity for the local community and serves as a location for a number of community programs. 

Among the programs for children is this aerial dancing, which appears to be a real blast. And probably great exercise! 

Kate took her D&G coat off inside the firehouse, which gave us a peek at her new Phaedra dress by Séraphine maternity. Is reminds me a lot of the Tabitha Webb space dress Kate wore a year or so ago. 

The big news of the day was that Kate got a small henna tattoo (which washes off within a week or so, I think) and even asked fro a package of bindis to give to Charlotte. 

I am sure Kate has albums of mommy and daddy's trips, and given how much children love color, Charlotte probably is drawn to the pictures from India. 

After their time at the firehouse, it was off to the Northern Spire bridge. According to KP's tweets, the "1,550-tonne pylon structure is twice as high as Nelson’s Column and taller than Big Ben's clock tower and has provided new jobs and investment for the city."

After the initial greeting, Kate changed from her Tod's heels to Stuart Weitzman Half n Half boots and donned a hard hat. 

Obviously, the couple was shown around the construction site, and each took a hand tightening a bolt on the bridge. 

Kate's coat was bespoke Dolce & Gabbana, and I very frankly was not a fan. The large front panel with the oversized buttons was, to my mind, about as unflattering to her expanding bump as could have been designed. The very prominent stitching was also jarring to me. Overall, I felt this coat made Kate look bulky and ponderous, which, as we have seen (thanks to more flattering designs), she certainly is not. 

I was disappointed that we didn't get a lot of great photos of the Phaedra by Séraphine inside the firehouse. Again, though, it wasn't a smash hit for me. The pattern is a little busy, and I feel we've exhausted these prints with the slew of L.K. Bennett midis Kate has worn in the past few years. The cut was flattering, though, and I loved it with the black stockings and heels. 

I feel like I am a Negative Nancy in this post, but this ensemble didn't set my fashion pulse racing.  On the bright side, it is always so fun to see William and Kate on any joint engagement, and I particularly enjoy those events that see them wearing hard hats or any specialized gear. That's always a fashion change of pace. Despite the ensemble, Kate was glowing, and the many images of her from the bridge are absolutely lovely. Better luck next time on the clothes front, I am sure! 

Kate Wears Erdem Again at Commonwealth Fashion Exchange

Monday, February 19, 2018

It is London Fashion Week, and tonight the Duchess was back with an appropriately timed event. Joining her aunt-in-law the Countess of Wessex, Kate co-hosted a reception celebrating the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at Buckingham Palace on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

This initiative is a very cool idea. It pairs successful and recognizable fashion power houses (like Stella McCartney or Burberry) with local talent to help feature and further the artisanal work of the smaller producers. Livia Firth, Colin Firth's wife, manages it via her organization Eco Age. Little Pride & Prejudice connection there. ;) 
Kate and Sophie got to view early designs produced by the initiative. These two have never co-hosted an event before, and it was a lot of fun to see Kate join another senior royal woman like this. I imagine their relationship is closer to that of sisters-in-law... 
I am going to jump right into fashion here, because I am a little low on time this fine February night--quelle surprise, right?  Last night Kate wore JP, but tonight it was back to another favorite...Erdem. This is the label's Suzi dress in floral guipure lace, which Kate has had customized in a longer length. Dare I say, it features a ruffle?

It's like Erdem said (to quote Captain Renault from Casablanca), "round up the usual suspects" when they hit the design floor. Despite some recent, completely cringe-worthy disasters, I have to admit, I really, really like this dress! I do. I am a sucker for the guipure lace, and I think this two-tone floral design is just the right amount of busy without going overboard. Also, that v-neckline is so Kate Middleton. Every time the Duchess trots that kind of a neckline out, I am on board. Again, I know several will question my fashion credentials, but I am such a fan!

Kate was wearing the Prada cut-out shoes she has had for a while now (and wore last night!), and added a touch of sparkle with these Anita Dongre earrings she first debuted last year at another BP event celebrating the UK and India. They aren't my favorite earrings, but they are certainly in keeping with the evening's theme of highlighting talent from the Commonwealth--although Anita Dongre is certainly not an obscure label. ;)

Kate briefly carried a clutch, although it does not appear in the majority of the pictures. It is visible in the photo-set where she is standing and chatting with Anna Wintour. Based on the little I can see, I would have guessed her Prada, but the edges are too sharp and this clutch has gold detailing. Maybe it is her Alexander McQueen? But it still looks a little boxy. If you know or have a guess, drop a line in the comments! 

I think my favorite picture of the night was this snap of Kate clearly explaining something about her pregnancy to Stella McCartney. Generally so reserved on formal duties, it is fun to see Kate's cocktail hour personality come out a little bit as she mixes and mingles. 

It is a win, all y'all. And with that, I'm off to bed! 

Kate Is Magnificent in Dark Green at the BAFTAs!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Tonight the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the BAFTA awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Obviously, it is a star-studded event and is one of the most glamorous (if not the most glamorous) events the couple attends. With only a little over two months to her due-date, Kate had to wear something new, and she didn't disappoint as she arrived to the red carpet wearing a breathtaking Jenny Packham! 

William is the President of BAFTA and in the early years of their marriage, Kate didn't always attend with him, so it has been lovely to see her at his side these past two years. 

William and Kate always enter the auditorium last while the guests stand, and are always seated in the front. I think this is probably one of the more surreal/bizarre entrances this couple probably experiences. It's not like walking into the royal box and giving a wave, it is a legitimate walk down that long aisle while everyone stares. 

Prince William penned a forward for the program in which he made a short mention of the sexual harassment scandal that is plaguing Hollywood and the film industry...more on that at the end of the post.  

Kate's ink-blue Jenny Packham remains her most successful maternity red-carpet appearance, but I think we forget how much more advanced she is at this stage than she was in New York. There was no way this dress was going to fit her tonight, but it is entirely clear that Kate took inspiration from it when sitting down with Jenny P to map out tonight's creation.

Drawing on the ink-blue original was definitely a smart move. Tonight's flowing gown was slimming while also highlighting all the best about her pregnant figure. Kate was absolutely radiant with life and striking beauty...and those smokey eyes! Wow. When I saw the pictures I was absolutely star struck. 

Kate and JP shortened the sleeves and added a hint of train that ballooned behind the princess as she made her way up the stairs. 

For her accessories, Kate turned again to the same stunning suite of emeralds she wore in New York. It turns out those earrings are convertible! I liked the dramatic drops at the Met, but I think I prefer tonight's iteration.  Kate also wore the bracelet, and added a breathtaking necklace. These sparklers were a wedding gift to Kate from an undisclosed admirer. ;) I love how lavish they are, and was absolutely delighted to see them again tonight.

This was a magnificent win for me. I loved the dress and the va va voom Kate brought to the red carpet. She is certainly blooming, as they say, and pregnancy never looked so darn sexy. The only drawback to this dress is the terribly placed seam right down the front. I am sure it blends in just fine in the studio when the dress is at rest, but under the flash and in motion, it sadly shows in almost every photo. Oh well, I am not letting that get in the way of what will be one of Kate's SuperStar looks! 

Ok, I wrote the post so you can skip all the drama is it is not your cup of tea. Heaven knows this place is supposed to be an escape, right? But, I am going to add some brief commentary, because it is impossible to escape it tonight. I knew Kate wouldn't wear black, and I think it was very appropriate of her to avoid what can be, for some, a divisive movement. As a royal, she made a very remarkably strong statement regardless, by including the black velvet ribbon (which trailed down the back of the dress--very unusual and a deliberate tool to highlight the ribbon, I think) and by wearing emeralds, which have been associated with the Suffragettes and, apparently, is a symbol of feminine strength. As one of the most senior women, in the most prestigious, surviving monarchy today, Kate has to be seen as above the drama of the day. I've seen some people try to argue Times Up is not political, but just the fact we are all up in arms over the color of Kate's dress, proves that it is a divisive issue. It isn't that anyone (publicly) supports sexual harassment or abuse, but there is sharp disagreement on why this environment came to be, who truly fosters it, and how it should be addressed. The pressure put upon Kate certainly created a conundrum, but by nodding to the spirit of the movement, while maintaining some royal distance, she held the line on the role that a modern royal must play today. Royals have to represent everyone or no one. Many people support the Times Up movement. Many who abhor sexual harassment and abuse do not support the Times Up movement. I am very proud of Kate for working this compromise, because it is crucial for her family's institution that she remain neutral when society fractures. 

I have no problem if you support Times Up. Please feel free to high in, but as always, let's keep teh debate pleasant. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day! I love this holiday. The pinks and red and whites, the romance and whimsy that just bursts from the woodwork on social media... In what would otherwise be a dreary month between the holiday season and spring, this is such a lovely moment to pause and celebrate love. I am posting pictures of Kate in pink on Instagram, so it might seem strange that I chose a blue ensemble for my Valentine to you all today. But, this picture of William and Kate is so perfect! The laughter  has been a hallmark of their marriage and a trait that speaks much louder than words to the depth of their love and the strength of their bond. 

That being said, a little shoulder never hurt anyone. Bonus points, this is pink and red. ;) 

Whatever you are up to today, whether you have a Valentine sending you flowers or you are treating yourself to a cozy tea and an iced sugar cookie (my favorite!), I hope your day is filled with beauty and peace, and lots of laughter! 

Sending warm wishes!!