For the royal tour of Southeast Asia in 2012, Kate wore separates by Singaporean label Raoul for daytime engagements and paid another sartorial nod when she selected an elegant purple and white printed dress by Singapore-born designer Prabal Gurung for a state dinner given by the President of Singapore.
During the 2014 tour of Australia and New Zealand Kate wore the very pretty Roamer Day Dress by Australian brand Zimmermann.
In New Zealand, Kate opted for designers she has already worn with ties to the country. The Duchess opted for a teal Emilia Wickstead coatdress - identical to one she has in pale pink - and repeated her Rebecca Taylor navy 'Sparkle and Tweed' suit as the family bade farewell in Wellington. Both designers were born in NZ.
The Duchess has proven herself more than adept when it comes to sartorial diplomacy. At this point, with roughly six weeks to go until the tour kicks off, preparation for suitable attire will be very much in the planning with a multitude of considerations being taken into account. The climate will be a major factor when assembling the wardrobe, with average April temperatures around 32 - 40 degrees Celsius (not incredible temperatures for many of our readers, but given our climate in Britain it's going to be quite hot for the Duchess). There will most likely be a variety of pieces encompassing high street, designer, and bespoke.
I've spent quite a while researching Indian designers and the fashion industry in recent weeks and one option jumped out at me as a possibility for several reasons. One of India's foremost designers, Ritu Kumar holds the status of a revivalist in the Indian fashion industry who has successfully bridged the gap between traditionalism and modernity. Born in Mumbai, Kumar's career began with four hand-block printers and two tables in a small village near Calcutta. From there she went on to be the first woman to introduce the ‘boutique’ culture to India under the brand name ‘Ritu’. Today she has outlets in all major cities in India as well as Paris, London and New York.
When Princess Diana visited Pakistan in 1997, just months before her death, she visited the Shaumat Memoriam Hospital wearing a 'shalwar kameez' by the designer. A traditional outfit, the shalwar are loose trousers with legs wide at the top and narrow at the ankle. The kameez is a long shirt or tunic, often seen with a Western-style collar.
Ms Kumar was recently asked if she met Diana:
'No unfortunately she cycled to the store in London at South Audley Street, and ordered the outfit she wore on her visit to Pakistan. I did speak to her on the phone but did not meet her. She was going to a temple and I was designing a sari for the event but she had an accident before that - a real pity.'
Indeed, one could say Ritu has a connection to the tour. William and Kate will visit the King and Queen of Bhutan during the latter stages, and she was chosen to create several pieces for the queen following her engagement back in October 2011.
The Queen Mother of Bhutan (pictured with Ritu below) commissioned a line from the designer to celebrate the inauguration of the Royal Textile Academy in Bhutan. Speaking about it she said: "It's not often that I am asked to make a collection that has no commercial aspects, yet will be remembered for posterity. So I was very excited when the Queen Mother of Bhutan asked me to create a line to celebrate the opening of the new museum. A little nervousness was expected, but I was more excited about the opportunity I had. To create a culturally sensitive collection which opens one's eyes to something other than commerce is what makes this collection special."
Ritu attributes her success to "understanding the classical nature of Indian textiles which have had their initial base in this country and making them suitable to the ever changing needs of modern women, in their usage. I try to ensure that the aesthetics are retained in the modernising of the garment for the international and Indian context".
Ritu's designs focus on natural fabics, traditional printing and weaving techniques. The detail and craftsmanship is exquisite. Do any of you think we'll see Kate in a traditional creation? Perhaps a look similar to Diana's above, or a sari? Below, a look several of the designer's latest looks.
In 2002, Label by Ritu Kumar was launched in partnership with her son Amrish. Label uses the established forte of traditional Indian aesthetic to create fashion-oriented global products. There are numerous pieces in this collection I could envisage Kate wearing. Below, the Black Sleeveless Printed Crepe Dress (how gorgeous is the matching handbag?). We also look at the Red Printed Crepe Dress.
The gorgeous Beige Printed Chiffon Dress.
The Printed Crepe Short Dress in viscose crepe is a fabulous summery look with a straight fit, round neck and sleeveless style. I could see Kate teaming this with her wedges.
The Green Gold Embellished Evening Dress, the Off White Short Party Dress and the Green Printed Crepe Short Dress would all look fantastic on the Duchess.
The Beige Crepe Embroidered Dress is a stunning garment with delicate beadwork on top and a flared skirt.
Four casual daywear looks.
Indeed, back in January the brand suggested their Blue Printed Wrap Dress as an alternative for Kate's grey wrap MaxMara dress.
There's a collection of colourful and embellished clutches which would add a lovely finishing touch to Kate's looks.
The second designer we're looking at is one we've all recently become familiar with. Just days after the royal tour was officially announced Kate sported the chic Martine dress by Indian designer Saloni for The Fostering Awards. This was no coincidence and showed Kate was considering possibilities back in November. The dress was 'very Kate' and a great colour for her. Will we see it again during the tour?
Born in India, Saloni Lodha studied in Mumbai and later moved to Hong Kong and London before returning to Hong Kong where she now lives. Saloni grew up in a traditional Marwari family and her love affair with textiles began at a very young age. The women in her community only wore sarees and her grandfather owned a fabric shop. When she first moved to Hong Kong in 2001 - then dominated exclusively by luxury brands - she saw a gap in the market for something more personal.
She decided to start pop-up boutiques and sell one-off pieces of clothing made in collaboration with artisans back home. When she moved to London in 2004 she did a short course at St Martins, got some work experience and started her own brand. Saloni founded her brand SALONI in 2011.
The London-based contemporary womenswear brand has been worn by international celebrities including Emma Watson, Carey Mulligan, Helena Christensen, Samantha Cameron, Naomi Watts, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jessica Alba. Below we see Princess Beatrice, Lily James and Michelle Obama wearing SALONI.
Speaking about her brand, Saloni said:
"I always keep in mind my Indian heritage while designing but don’t translate it literally into our clothes. I think the way we as a brand celebrate bold colours and patterns is our way of bringing the spirit of India into the collections."
Saloni shares her journey on social media. Below, a photo from a trim-sourcing expedition in Hong Kong and nature colour inspiration she discovered.
The Iris Halterneck Dress is a cobalt blue polka-dot chiffon dress offering an elegant take on the label's bohemian aesthetic. The Aspara Dress is reminiscent of the Jenny Packham dress Kate wore when leaving the hospital with Prince George. The stretch-jersey dress is a very wearable and versatile piece.
The Floral Midi-Shirt Dress has been crafted with sumptuous pure silk and boasts a scarf-like colourful printed design with a button-up silhouette and is complemented with an adjustable self-tie waist belt. The Feather Print Dress, the Pleated Drape Midi Dress and the Polk-a-Dot Bardot Dress all feature eye-catching prints.
The Grace Polka-Dot Silk Dress and the Ruth Off-The-Shoulder incorporate classic silhouettes.
The Split Detail Maxi Dress, the V Neck Handkerchief Dress and the Lace Panel Maxi Dress are feminine, floaty dresses. I think maxi dresses could be a great option for Kate during the tour and a fresh look for her - perfect with jewellery and sandals.
The Mariana Tie-Front Jersey Dress is 100% viscose with a gathered tie-detail front and the very aptly named Kate Draped Dress is fully lined with an asymmetric hem.
We've seen the gorgeous array of prints included in Saloni's designs. Four more striking looks include the Tilly Silk Tea Dress, the Alexa Guipure Lace Dress, the Bibi Guipure Lace Skirt, and the Leah Geometric Print Skirt.
It's been incredibly fun learning more about Ritu and Saloni. I very much think they are the two most likely designers for the tour. What do you think? Which designs would you like to see the Duchess wear? We'll be looking at several more designers from India in part two of this series. :)
Also today, Kensington Palace has announced an addition to William and Kate's calendar. On Friday, 11 March the Duke and Duchess will visit the mentoring programme of the XLP project at London Wall, which supports young people who are facing emotional, behavioural and relational challenges. Readers will recall the couple visited an XLP project in 2015 at Gipsy Hall.
More from the press release:
'XLP, a charity working to create positive futures for young people from inner London boroughs, has been operating its XL-Mentoring programme since 2008. The programme is focussed on at-risk young people aged between 11 and 18, who are facing exclusion from school, or at risk from involvement in gangs or anti-social behaviour. The young people taking part are referred to the project by their schools, pupil referral units, youth services and the police. They are then matched with a mentor – who commits to providing two hours face-to-face time each week for a minimum of 12 months.'
During their visit, William and Kate will have the opportunity to meet mentors and some mentees from each of the three London boroughs. They will meet a number of mentoring coordinators from around the country, who have taken part in the training.
I expect Kate's annual St Patrick's Day engagement will also be confirmed shortly.