Good evening, everyone,
We're back with an assortment of updates. Can you believe it's just one week until the royal tour kicks off? The Palace noted William and Kate are looking forward to "making new memories" in India and Bhutan. Indeed, many of us are very much looking forward to the engagements, the locations and seeing what Kate will wear. Kate was spotted in London a couple of days ago and is no doubt making last-minute preparations for engagements and adding final touches to her tour wardrobe.
There's another angle to this tour, however: the importance of how it is received and thus reported on in the wake of the increasingly negative media the Cambridges have been receiving. Royal reporter Victoria Murphy elaborated on the topic in her piece, William and Kate now have to work hard for attention - this tour is the perfect start:
'For seven full days Prince William and Kate will be in the spotlight as they sample the delights of India and Bhutan on their latest major royal tour. The visit is, of course, at the request of the British Government to build important diplomatic relations, but it has also come at a crucial time for the couple and their relationship with the public. In contrast to their previous tours, where they have been waved off in a puff of fascination and adoration, this one is beginning in rather less triumphant fashion.With five years of official appearances under her belt, the novelty of Kate as a new member of the “firm” has worn off.
Her day-to-day appearances are not commanding the attention they once did and glowing coverage has given way to questions about her working timetable and use of taxpayer-funded helicopters. William, who was once lauded for his role outside royal life as a Search and Rescue pilot, is now fending off suggestions he is hiding from his destiny in the air ambulance.
As little as a year ago it would have been unthinkable that criticism of William and Kate would gain widespread traction - but it has.'
Victoria continues on to note with previous tours the couple were newly-weds, baby chatter was abundant, and most recently, Prince George accompanied them on their 2014 tour of Australia and New Zealand. Rather than being a crisis she writes: "It is the natural order of things as the honeymoon was never going to last forever."
'In a modern democracy the survival of the Monarchy is largely dependent on the popularity of its individuals. For the first few years of their married life William and Kate effortlessly flew the flag for the institution, leaving republicans despairing they will never have their day.
Now we are in a new phase, one where they will have to work hard to get the right kind of attention.Far from being a crisis, this is the natural order of things as the honeymoon was never going to last forever. They can still bask in adoration and make the world take notice, but to do so won't be effortless. This trip to India and Bhutan is definitely one to watch.'
The Telegraph's Gordon Rayner also wrote a fantastic pre-tour piece entitled How Duchess of Cambridge is packing for her tour of India: Hiking boots and local designer dresses.
'The Telegraph has learned that the Duchess will take 12-15 outfits for the six days of official visits but that alongside daytime dresses and evening gowns, there'll be a surprising addition: a pair of hiking boots. Whilst the Royal couple are in Bhutan they'll go on a six-hour trek to Tiger's Nest monastery said to require peak physical fitness and hiking gear, likely to be the £106 Hillmaster boots the Duchess last wore when she visited Borneo's jungle.'
The article is full of interesting little details including news a small team made a rehearsal trip to India and Bhutan, on which Kate's private secretary Rebecca Deacon made notes "on factors to consider about the locations the Duchess will visit, so she will have an idea of what will and won't work". The team took photos of all locations so images can be used as a guide to determine what colours and level of formality will work best with the backdrop.
A royal source told the Telegraph: "She is in charge of it herself and takes an interest in paying tribute to the host country with nods to their culture and local style on at least a few of the engagements. The important factor on this tour is the heat, so that's an issue that plays a big part in the choice of outfits." I would imagine we may see the Lotus and Himalayan Blue Poppy incorporated into garments, hats or accessories, as they are the national flowers of India and Bhutan.
Speaking of poppies, we saw Kate wearing the L.K. Bennett Lasa Poppy Print Dress during the last tour. Will it make another appearance this time?
The article continues: "But whilst the Duchess is likely to have spent months talking with designers about commissioning pieces which nod to the host nations, she will also have shopped for pieces online. It's very much a process that she leads, though she does have some help from her staff when it comes to sourcing outfits."
Monique Jessen wrote a piece for People covering what's inside Kate's suitcase for the tour:
'Perhaps Kate's most thrilling look will be in the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, where the couple are set to meet King Jigme and his wife Queen Jetsun, who have been nicknamed the Will and Kate of the Himalayas. A country that fiercely guards its traditions, Bhutanese citizens were until recently required by law to wear national dress in public places at all times. Although less strict now, many of the largely Buddhist community still choose to wear the traditional outfit of the kira for women and gho for men, which dates back to the 16th century.'
Monique suggests it is very likely Kate will wear a kira: "Made from a rectangular piece of cloth, the kira is almost the same size as a bed sheet. Designed to show off the richness of Bhutanese textiles, the usually elaborately patterned fabric is expertly wrapped and folded into an ankle-length dress, with a precise straight skirt." Below, we see Queen Jetsun wearing a kira.
We've looked at several designers in the run up to the tour. Tonight we're looking at two more very stylish possibilities, beginning with Indian-American fashion designer Naeem Khan. Born in Mumbai, the designer's hugely successful label was launched in 2003. Based in New York, his clients include First Lady Michelle Obama, Queen Noor of Jordan and Beyoncé.
Known for delicate hand-beading, rich embroideries and gorgeous vibrant colours there's an abundance of choice for Kate in the designer's current collection. When considering options for the glittering gala with the stars of Bollywood, I immediately noticed the Metallic Beaded Cascading Ruffle Gown and the Embroidered V-Neck Gown, the Strapless Embellished Degrade Ball Gown and the Cap-Sleeve Mermaid Gown.
The Spring/Summer 2016 Collection offers sweeping gowns in beautiful hues and timeless silhouettes. Combining the glamour of fifties and sixties muses Sophia Loren and Grace Kelly with the his life of Rivera, the collection is a treasure trove of stunning ornate dresses.
This would be a great colour on Kate.
How incredible would the Silk Satin Cowl Neck Gown look with an updo and Kate's emeralds?
We know the Duchess favours lace dresses; there are several delicate garments in soft, feminine colours featuring lace detail rather similar to styles we've seen from Erdem.
Three more stunning evening looks.
Next, we're taking a brief look at Chimmi House of Design. Chimmi's tastes are influenced by the intricate textiles of her native country Bhutan. Like many Bhutanese girls, Chimmi grew up around weavers, though it was not until she was older that she fully understood the unique value of this craft. Her appreciation and understanding of the work that goes into producing these textiles has developed over many years, and continues to inspire her today.
|Chimmi House of Design|
|Chimmi House of Design|
Founded in 2014, the brand aims to "promote and preserve Bhutan’s culture and traditions through high fashion; uplifting local artisans and reviving the local textile industry. CHD is a socially conscious brand that encourages creativity and independence through our integrated and sustainable business model; providing reliable, salaried employment to our dedicated team of weavers and tailors".
|Chimmi House of Design|
A look at the Spring/Summer Collection.
|Chimmi House of Design|
Collections are limited to just several pieces. Perhaps the Duchess will wear a bespoke piece in Bhutan by the talented young designer.
|Chimmi House of Design|
We also have a few quick updates on restocked items the Duchess has worn. Kate's engagement dress, the Issa Phylis, is available in several colours and prints on The Outnet discounted by 52%. Below we see the wrap-effect stretch silk-blend dress in Pink, Red and Green.
Kate's Hobbs Wessex Dress is back in stock in blue and white. At present, the checked fit-and-flare dress is discounted from £129 to £79.
Kate's popular Reiss Vinnie Shirt is back in stock in a number of sizes on the Reiss Website. It's also available in limited sizing at Harrods and Bloomingdales.
And Kate's collarless GOAT Washington Coat has been restocked at Matches.
Finally, the Mail on Sunday reports Kate will host a £10,000 a head charity gala in aid of East Anglia's Children's Hospices on 22 June at Houghton Hall, home of the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley. Readers will recall the couple attended the state banquet in October with Rose receiving lovely comments for her gorgeous Temperley London gown.
More from the article:
'Tickets start at £6,000 per head and those who pay £10,000 are invited to stay at Houghton with the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley after the party on June 22, ten days after the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations.
The ball will include a champagne reception, a lecture by writer Anthony Horowitz, live jazz, a magician, and food by top chefs including Tom Kerridge. The event is another sign that Kate will host more charitable events after Her Majesty turns 90 and will be good practice for Kate the working Royal, with an impressive list of grandees attending the proceedings in Houghton’s marble-clad Stone Hall.'
This sounds like an incredibly exciting event and a fantastic opportunity to raise a significant sum for EACH. I imagine the evening affair will see the Duchess in a gown and perhaps we'll hear her saying a few words too, with a brief speech. Hosting a gala such as this would be fantastic experience for the Duchess too, as these fundraising galas will be an increasing part of her role as time progresses. There's no official Palace confirmation, but if true, we can expect to hear more over the coming weeks.
You can read more about Houghton Hall and take a look at photos on the official website.
We hope you're all having a lovely weekend. We'll see you on Wednesday for the pre-tour reception at Kensington Palace! :)