Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The Duchess in Oscar de la Renta for Royal Opera House Visit

The Duchess of Cambridge stepped out this morning to visit the costume department at the Royal Opera House to learn more about their commissioning and use of textiles and fabrics.

The Duchess arriving.

The Duchess is a regular private visitor to the Royal Opera House. Before Christmas, she took Princess Charlotte to see a rehearsal of The Nutcracker. Charlotte is reportedly taking ballet lessons in London already and loved the day out. In December 2017, Kate enjoyed the classic ballet following the Queen's pre-Christmas luncheon. In 2015, Kate, Carole and Pippa were spotted enjoying a pre-theatre meal at Covent Garden's Clos Maggiore before an evening at the ROH. Today marks her first official visit to the major performing arts venue.

More from The Mirror:

'Kate made a special mention of her daughter as she thanked a member of the ROH team and told how three-year-old Charlotte had enjoyed the “little introduction” and “been very keen ever since”. It is understood Kate was referring to her mother and daughter trip to the Royal Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House last year.'

Kensington Palace said: "The textile and manufacturing industry is an area of interest to the Duchess. Her Royal Highness’ great-great-grandfather, Francis Martineau Lupton, was a mill owner who ran the family’s successful textile manufacturing business, William Lupton & Company, with his three brothers."

We will see Kate explore the area further in the coming months with a number of visits to other arts venues and meetings with industry experts.

The Queen is patron of the Royal Ballet and Prince Charles is patron of the Royal Opera House. Below, Her Majesty greets an Artist of the Royal Ballet in 1958 after a performance to celebrate the centenary of the Opera House.

The Costume Department is responsible for creating, refurbishing and maintaining thousands of opera and ballet costumes per season, with up to 600 costumes per production.

Up to 10,000 costumes are used each year by artists from the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera House.

The department has built up a historic costume collection of more than 5,000 items, with some items dating back to 1861.

Kate visited the pattern room where she was shown the process of creating costumes for a new production with designers, including sourcing fabrics.

Kate visited the dye shop where staff showcased different techniques including dyeing, hand-painting, staining garments and digital printing which allows the team to reproduce historic fabrics no longer available.

The Mirror reports:

'Kate was then taken to the dye department where staff showed her how they employed different techniques including dyeing, hand-painting, staining garments and digital printing.  Parveen Banga, head of the department, showed her a digital printed which allows the team to reproduce historic fabrics no longer available. Kate said: “It’s just amazing the intensity about it.”
The Duchess was also introduced to Catriona Paterson, head of ladies workroom, and Jane Dalgarno, head of mens workroom. Kate said: “I saw in here earlier, it amazing seeing everyone with the fashion cuttings.”
Looking at a period costume that was partially constructed, the Duchess added: “When you are seeing and designing from images, what I’m always fascinated by how to cut a pattern that’s got pleats, it that from experience?” Ms Paterson replied: “A little bit of training and lots and lots of experience.”

The Duchess met costumiers to discuss their work.

Kate said she is "fascinated by the different techniques".

The costumes on the Royal Opera House stage not only have to fit the designer’s vision, but also need to be practical. For ballet, this means enabling free movement – something the Costume Department is all too aware of.

More from the ROH: "Ballet fabric needs to be light and stretchy, particularly over the shoulders, to allow for maximum movement’, continues Catriona, who is now in her 16th year at the Royal Opera House. ‘If the dancer is being lifted, how slippery is the fabric? The designer might have to be told that satin won’t work, or we might discreetly add net or rubber patches."

Mal Barton from the department said: "There are about 500 costumes for Romeo and Juliet, and around seventy percent of them are original," explains Mal. "There is a lot of wear and tear – some will have been re-fitted 20 times – but they last a long time because of good maintenance and repair. It takes the entire revival workroom (about 18–20 people) some 1,500 hours to refurbish the costumes in the workrooms, a job we need to start working on at least six weeks before rehearsals start."

The ROH adds: "Ballet fabric needs to be light and stretchy, particularly over the shoulders, to allow for maximum movement. If the dancer is being lifted, how slippery is the fabric? The designer might have to be told that satin won’t work, or we might discreetly add net or rubber patches. A huge number of components can be required for any one costume – the much-loved tutu in particular. Each skirt will need elastic, ribbon, hooks and bars, tape and boning, wire and threads. Similarly, a skirt for La Sylphide requires about 100m of netting – seven layers, each with an average of nine panels that each measure up to a metre each. Having everything to hand at the right time is quite a task for the costume stockroom."

There's a fascinating video below on the costumes from each section of of George Balanchine's ballet Jewels; Emeralds, Rubies and Diamond.

Kate met Royal Ballet Principal Dancers Lauren Cuthbertson, Laura Morera and Vadim Muntagirov, who discussed how various factors such as lighting, interaction and movement influence the designs of their costumes.

The Duchess watched the dancers rehearse Frederick Ashton's (founder choreographer of the Royal Ballet) 'The Two Pigeons'. Afterwards, she said: "That was incredible, thank you".

The romantic ballet sees young love triumph over trials, temptations and misunderstandings. Two live pigeons are used to represent the lovers.

View an introduction to the ballet below.

Kate was accompanied by private secretary Catherine Quinn and senior press officer Julie Burley. Carolyn Durand noted she's the lady carrying the red folder.

The Duchess selected her burgundy Oscar de la Renta skirt suit for the outing. Readers may recall, she first wore it in February 2017, for the Guild of Health Writers conference. The ensemble comes from Peter Copping's (Oscar de la Renta's handpicked successor) first collection in 2015. I adore the brand's aesthetic - feminine, luxurious and timeless pieces.

The Three Quarter Sleeve Tailored Jacket is rendered in a wool blend and features a pointed collar, dual breast pockets, and a pleated, flared hem. The ultraviolet tailored jacket originally retailed for £1,722 before going on sale for £861 and selling out.
The matching Full Pleated Skirt is rendered in a wool blend and features a full shape with box pleating and features a back zip.

Kate debuted a stylish new pair of black patent pumps with a gold pebble.

The UFO No More team confirmed they are the Rupert Sanderson Nada pumps. The style is exclusive to their London store. Below, the pumps in blue.

Kate accessorised with her Asprey Oak Leaf earrings.

And carried the black deep shine croc Aspinal of London Midi Mayfair bag.

The bag is described as: "Encapsulating timeless vintage-inspired styling, our Midi Mayfair Bag is hand-crafted from the finest deep shine black croc print Italian calf leather. Both versatile and luxurious, the structured boxy design features three inner compartments secured with our enduring shield lock clasp. What's more, sumptuous black leather complements any outfit, and makes an exquisite transitional piece from day to night. The flawless finish of the leather's rich, glassy shine and the shimmering grosgrain lining give this accessory a truly elegant feel."

In other news, as many of you know, Kate's brother James Middleton penned a powerful piece on his mental health struggles. Click here to read it.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Duchess Kate's 'Back To Nature' for King Henry's Walk Garden Visit!

The Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in Islington this morning to visit King Henry's Walk Garden,  to see how the project brings people together through gardening and food growing.

The engagement coincided with the exciting news Kate has co-designed a garden for the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show in May. The Duchess has collaborated with landscape architects Andree Davies and Adam White, of Davies White Landscape Architects, over the past three months to create the RHS Back to Nature Garden. Inspired by childhood memories of the natural world and moments that will be created by families in the future, the garden seeks to recapture for adults "the sense of wonder and magic" they enjoyed outdoors as children. Natural materials and wild planting will be used to recreate a woodland wilderness.

More from the Palace press release:

'To highlight the benefits of the great outdoors and inspire children, families and communities to get back to nature, The Duchess of Cambridge, the Royal Horticultural Society and landscape architects Davies White have today announced that they will design and build the 2019 RHS Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show.
The garden will build on Her Royal Highness’s passion for the outdoors and the proven benefits that nature has on physical and mental health. The Duchess is a strong advocate for the positive impact that nature and the environment can have on childhood development, demonstrated by her longstanding support for organisations including the Scouts and Farms for City Children, as well as at more recent engagements to Sayers Croft Forest School and Wildlife Garden, the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, and her visit today [15th January] to Islington Community Garden.'

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: "We could not be more thrilled, or feel more honoured, that The Duchess of Cambridge has co-designed our RHS Garden at Chelsea Flower Show this year, with award-winning landscape architects, Andree Davies and Adam White. “For more than 200 years the RHS has been championing the power of gardening and growing plants for the environment, for health and wellbeing and to help people of all ages, from all backgrounds, to learn and grow. To have The Duchess advocating this with us, and to be continuing our partnership with NHS England will, we’re sure, further highlight the powerful benefit that access to gardens, nature and growing plants can have for all our health and happiness."

Hannah Furness reports:

'Mr White revealed that the Duchess had brought with her the Japanese idea of ‘forest bathing’ whereby even office workers go out in their lunch break into the woods to relax, suggesting incorporating it into the garden design. 
He said during their discussions it emerged that all three of them had read the same book, Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, which raises the idea of a ‘nature deficit disorder’.
"This will be a garden where people can remember their childhood and maybe re-create it for their own," he added. "Go out and play in the woods or make dams in the stream. There is a really serious message to connect families and communities with nature."

Adam White and Andree Davies.

The RHS revealed Kate will co-design two additional gardens, maintaining elements from 'Back To Nature' to bring the collaboration to a wider audience.

'The RHS Back to Nature Garden is key to the RHS’s partnership with NHS England, promoting the physical and emotional wellbeing that access to green spaces and gardening provides. After Chelsea, some of the planting and landscaping will go to an NHS Mental Health Trust, as part of a national competition run by the RHS.

Continuing the collaboration and to engage even wider audiences, The Duchess of Cambridge and Davies White will be co-designing two further RHS Gardens, maintaining many of elements from the Garden at Chelsea, at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival (2-7 July 2019) and RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, which will open in the autumn later this year.'

The Chelsea Flower Show is a staple on the royal calendar thanks to Her Majesty's patronage of the Royal Horticultural Society. Since the Queen's ascension to the throne in 1952, she has only missed it five times. Each year, the day before the show opens to the public, members of the royal family enjoy a tour of the gardens. May's show will be particularly special for Kate as she will have the opportunity to show the Queen her own work and share her designs with the shows 165,000 visitors.

Although the garden will not be judged, instead showcasing the power of gardening, the public will have the same opportunity to view it as they would any other garden on display. It's always very interesting to see a more personal element to engagements and to see the royals taking areas of interest a step further. Kate has often discussed her love of the outdoors over the years, I'm very much looking forward to seeing 'Back to Nature' on display in May. Kate will work Davies & White to finalise the garden before its completion later in the spring. She will follow in the footsteps of her father-in-law and brother-in-law. In 2002, Prince Charles co-designed a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in memory of the Queen Mother. Below, the 'Healing Garden'.

Prince Harry has two under his belt. The first was created in 2013 for Sentebale. In 2015, Prince Harry enlisted Matt Keightley to create the 'Hope in Vulnerability' garden based on the flowers of Lesotho. Below, a look at the garden in Chelsea.

Now, back to today's engagement...

A hidden oasis in the heart of the city, King Henry's Walk Garden is an award-winning green space created by the local community, for the local community.

The garden opened in 2007, thanks to a dedicated team from the area. It contains growing plots for cultivation by local residents, where the use of organic gardening methods helps to promote a diversity of plants and wildlife. Alongside community cohesion, the garden has helped to reduce problems such as anti-social behaviour in the area.

The garden has subsequently received many accolades, including London in Bloom’s Best Community Garden award in 2008, 2009 and 2011, and the RHS National Certificate of Distinction in 2012.

Gardeners of all ages were out in force today.

Kate met local residents and seemed particularly taken by this little one.

Kate joined local schoolchildren to make birdboxes. One of the boxes made today will feature in Kate's RHS garden.

The Duchess received a gift of two bird feeders. She she said would put it in her own garden adding, "I love this, thank you very much".

Kate joined a pizza making session in the garden's kitchen. William and Kate are said to be major pizza fans, I recall during a couple of royal tours they ordered in from local pizzerias for dinner.

The inquisitive group of children were full of questions. One little girl asked, has the Queen ever had pizza? Kate said "That's such a good question. I don't know. Maybe next time I see her, shall I ask?". Another little boy (who suggested creating a cheese and cucumber pizza) asked "Can I do this with your children?". Kate replied: "They would love to come here and do this with you. They'll be very sad I was here making pizza with all of you and they haven't been here. They're in school, they're in a classroom". I think we have a couple of budding royal reporters in our midst :) Speaking of George and Charlotte, Kate revealed they "love learning outside". She also told the group George is learning about space.

Kate was shown some of their allotment plots to see the impact that can be achieved in small scale plots.

Kate heard about educational workshops and programmes available at the garden.

Two children gave Kate a jar of honey from garden bees.

Elliot McWagland reports Kate was also given a copy of Robert McFarlane's The Lost Words before departing.

More on the book:

'In 2007, when a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary ― widely used in schools around the world ― was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Apparently they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these “lost words” included acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, and willow. Among the words taking their place were attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions ― the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual ― became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world.
Ten years later, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a “spell book” that will conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren. By the magic of word and paint, they sought to summon these words again into the voices, stories, and dreams of children and adults alike, and to celebrate the wonder and importance of everyday nature. The Lost Words is that book ― a work that has already cast its extraordinary spell on hundreds of thousands of people and begun a grass-roots movement to re-wild childhood across Britain, Europe, and North America.'

Kate was dressed for the outdoors visit in casual separates.

Kate chose her Dubarry Bracken jacket for today's outing. She was photographed wearing the piece in Norfolk just before Christmas when she was spotted last-minute shopping in the area. The £399 jacket features a stand-up collar, zipped front and storm flap. Dubarry of Ireland is an Irish brand with a collection of premium performance footwear, clothing, leather goods and accessories. Established in 1937, Dubarry markets a range of sailing and country footwear and clothing for both women and men. It's available in an assortment of shades on the Dubarry website. Kate's piece is 'heath'.

It appears Kate's new sweater is the J Crew Mockneck Sweater in mahogany (with thanks to Middleton Maven). The piece is described as "comfy and flattering". It's available in a variety of colours for $79.

A peek at the sweater on Kate.

Kate's new boots are the See by Chloe Leather-trimmed suede ankle boots (with thanks to Perth Fashion). Described as: "See By ChloĆ©'s combat-style ankle boots are perfect for balancing the prettiness of floral dresses and floaty skirts. Made from dark-brown suede, they have tonal leather trims and logo-embossed heel tabs, and are set on a chunky tread sole."

They are currently reduced to $267 at Net-A-Porter.

And fittingly accessorised with her Kiki McDonough Lauren leaf earrings.

It is thought Kate's trousers are by ZARA, if the exact style is identified I will update.

We'll see Kate tomorrow for her visit to the Royal Opera House!

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