BY LAURA GOLDSTEIN
As we’re waiting for the Harbour Air Seaplane coasting in from Victoria with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge onboard, it’s damp and drizzling in Vancouver and I’m cursing to myself that I’m not wearing socks. Though well-dressed in a blue polar fleece maxi coat and matching fedora, (a nod to the Duchess, whom I hope will single me out of the media hordes because of the hat and offer to give me an exclusive interview,) I start thinking about Kate’s style on the Royal Tour. Would she make a fashion faux pas? Unlikely. Not only was she voted the U.K.’s most influential style icon last month but the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton always travels with her royal “glam squad”; make-up and style consultant, Natasha Archer and her long-time hairdresser, Amanda Cook Tucker. The latter is widely known for creating the Duchess’ elegant chignons worn at more formal occasions including the posh reception at Government House in Victoria the evening of Day 1 of the Royal Tour.
And sure enough, exiting first, amidst the cheers and screams of thousands of people packed in like sardines at Jack Poole Plaza, the “glam squad” emerged carrying garment bags and make-up cases, thrilled I’m sure at the unexpected reception. After all, who doesn’t like to feel appreciated? (the cheers stopped abruptly when the crowds realized they weren’t THEM.)
The Royal couple finally emerged; William looked dashing in blazer, tie and dark pants and Kate wearing a flirty, red on white Alexander McQueen print frock by Sarah Burton, with pleated tiers from the 2017 Spring /Summer Collection. As one of her favorite British fashion houses, they were also responsible for her wedding dress and outfits she wore to Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s christenings. Already available on Net-a-Porter, the British press assured me that thousands of $40.00 knock-offs were probably being shipped as we spoke.
Just as Diana was renowned for her fabulous taste in clothes, Kate Middleton is a wonderful ambassador for British fashion wherever she travels in the world. Her arrival in Victoria wearing a peacock-blue Jenny Packham dress with matching blue felt hat by Locke & Co., then later that evening in a stunning scarlet, asymmetrical Preen midi-gown, were both accented by the Queen’s sparkling Maple Leaf Diamond Brooch. ‘Less is more’ definitely reigns.
Even 3-year-old Prince George made an adorable fashion statement in Victoria, wearing a blue sweater with wooden buttons, navy shorts and a blue-patterned shirt under his sweater, all from the London-based Spanish brand Pepa & Co. Apparently the sweater is still in stock, but the shirt has already sold out.
The Duchess is also a brilliant diplomat (or the strategists who advise her are,) as Kate always makes a point of wearing a designer from the hosting country. So we were all holding our sartorial breaths (as were Canadian retailers,) to see whom she would make an instant winner from the ‘Lookbook’ lottery. Dubbed as ‘the Kate effect’, Canadian designers would probably have sent their fashion Lookbooks to the Palace at least a year in advance of the Royal Tour in the hopes of being one of the lucky few whose clothes might be chosen to be worn by Kate Middleton on the 8-day tour.
In 2011 when The Royals embarked on their honeymoon and first tour of Canada, the Duchess of Cambridge was seen around the world wearing a jacket by Canadian brand, Smythe. Their navy one-button blazer had an unexpected twist at the back: instead of venting, there was a squared cutaway detail. The jacket was an immediate sell-out everywhere. Not only that, but Kate wore it again attending the equestrian event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Bravo for re-cycling Kate Middleton! But I digress…
Smythe hit the jackpot again on the 2016 Royal Tour, when Kate wore their ‘Duchess Blazer’ in Army (that’s the colour not to be confused with her security,) to the opening of the new Haida Gwaii Hospital and Care Centre.
On her last day in Whitehorse, Yukon, the Duchess switched up her look to a more casual one and was spotted in a heather- grey alpaca ribbed sleeve wrap coat by Canadian designer, Bojana Sentaler. “It was incredible,” said the 31-year-old Sentaler from Toronto, whose eponymous brand features luxury outerwear. “The Kate effect, for my brand, was an instant brand awareness around the entire world.”
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have had some influence. She’s a big fan of the brand, having worn their luxe white coat walking to her husband’s swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall last year.
Looking regal herself wearing a wine-coloured, A-line dress by Canadian designer, Tanya Taylor and nude suede pumps by Ron White, Grégoire Trudeau has more than just fashion in common with Kate Middleton. They are great advocates for women’s issues. In Vancouver, joined by the Prime Minister, the Duke of Cambridge and Premier Christy Clarke, they visited and spoke compassionately with residents and staff of Sheway, a pregnancy outreach program in one of the poorest areas in Vancouver. Later, they spent time at The Immigrant Services Society’s new Welcome Centre. The later is part of the initiative of assisting Syrian immigrants in British Columbia with housing and multi-lingual trauma support.
After speaking with first responders at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, the quartet boarded a waiting hovercraft. How apropos that a final stylish tribute came from the Search & Rescue team: two small personalized monogrammed red and black lifejackets for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
TOP PHOTO: The Royals arrive in Victoria, British Columbia with Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Photo: Canadian Heritage