Feb 212012

Kate chose Irish designer Orla Kiely for her engagements in Oxford today.

James Whatling/Splash News

James Whatling/Splash News

The Duchess was greeted by cheering crowds at Rose Hill Primary school and Oxford Spires Academy, she was visiting both on behalf of The Art Room, one of her patronages.

Georgina Brewer ITV Twitter Feed (@GeorginaITV)

More on the organization and its work from The Telegraph’s story:

The Duchess, who studied history of art at university, chose The Art Room as one of the first four charities to which she has given her patronage, as she is a firm believer in the power of art to help build self-esteem.

The charity helps to fund art teachers who give children intensive sessions in a specially-designated part of each school, where they create objects they can take home and keep

The students created an apron for Kate, much like those worn by their Art Room teachers.

Mark Stewart (@RegalEyes)

Here we see Kate with one of the young artists at Rose Hill, watching students paint their interpretations of the famous Edward Lear poem “The Owl and The Pussycat.”

British Monarchy

After her time at Rose Hill Kate moved on to Oxford Spires, where students eagerly awaited her arrival.

Twitter Feed (@MaxFosterCNN)

Below we see Kate being presented with flowers as she arrives.

The British Monarchy

The dress is officially called the Birdie Shirt Dress, crafted of a wool jacquard.  The dress originally retailed at £325 ($485), but was on sale for £162 ($242), a discount of 50%.

Orla Kiely Birdie Print Dress

It features 4 oversized buttons on the front bodice, deep pleats at the waist front and back, pockets on the side seams and a self-belt.

Orla Kiely

The UK site offered the piece in Walnut and Turquoise, while the US site also carried it in Slate, all sizes at all online sites now appear to be sold out.

Orla Kiely

This talented designer is best known for her distinctive prints, her products have been sold handbags, stationery and other paper products, housewares and tabletop pieces, she also did a line for the Tate. You can visit the Orla Kiely shop here, and have a peek at her spring styles. If you would like a look at many of the Kiely style’s shown for London Fashion Week, they are in our previous post here.

Some US residents may have been first introduced to her work via her collaboration with Target in 2009.


She has even designed for cars and other motor vehicles, like this bus.


There is also an Orla Kiely yoga mat created as a fundraiser for another of Kate’s charities, Action on Addiction.

Action on Addiction/Orla Kiely – Yoga Matters

Many will recognize Kate’s booties, they are the Aquatalia Rouge, originally noted by fashion fans when the Duchess joined her fiance at the time, William, for an appearance in Anglesey.

Via Aquatalia Passport to Style

The booties are now sold only at Nordstrom, they have been renamed the “Royal,” and appear to be available in all sizes as of this writing.

Kate also carried her black clutch and wore her Kiki McDonough Grace earrings.

Kiki McDonough

To learn more about the Art Room, visit its web page here, or its Facebook page here, or visit the group’s online shop.

For more on what Kate wore, the Mirror’s story is here, the Daily Mail piece is here, and the Telegraph’s is here.

The Telegraph

The BBC also has a video story up, as well as a slide show with wonderful (and large) photos, and The Independent’s stories (print & video) are found here.


Also today, a quick look at several style by designers at London Fashion Week.

McQ by Alexander McQueen held its first London show in quite some time, below we share two pieces well-suited to the Duchess, in a silhouette she seems to like.


If one added several inches in length to either of the red McQ frocks they would appear almost tailor-made for Kate.

NOW Fashion

Showing in London yesterday, Erdem.


The designer’s signature touches were evident: the lace overlays, circumspect hem lengths, along with sophisticated suits and dresses.


Simply put, the collection exuded a ladylike aesthetic, one Kate appreciates.


Today’s final note involves Kate and William’s dog, Lupo. That’s right, today it was revealed the four-legged family member has been named Lupo.

  52 Responses to “Kate in Orla Kiely & “Miss Catherine” Apron for Art Room Engagements”

  1. Kate’s outfit is awful -it doesn’t suit her at all. Whatever made her chose it? It’s abit frumpy.

  2. This is not my favorite of her looks. I think Kate should try to wear one of the McQ by Alexander McQueen dresses with the exquisite details and gorgeous prints, it would appear almost tailor-made for her.

  3. Beige. It has to be beige. For tea at Fortnum’s tomorrow — so far this year our herioine has worn black, grey and brown. So I predict beige. Beautifully tailored, of course, but otherwise fading into the background..

    Beginning to wonder if this is the wrong sort of website for this kind of a public persona. There must be an everythingisbeige-lovers website somewhere. For those who only ever go out on business. And not fun. Tea at Fortnum’s counts as very serious indeed, no doubt.

  4. I like this dress but would have liked it even more if it came in a different, more vibrant colour. And I am pleased that she chose NOT to wear her black knee high boots with it. The ankle boots give her outfit a bit more sass!

  5. I was browsing the Zara website today and saw that they brought back the lace tulip dress that Kate wore to the Gary Barlow concert in December, but in green this time: http://www.zara.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product/us/en/zara-us-S2012/189503/715024/LACE%2BTULIP%2BDRESS

    The lace pattern looks to be identical to Kate’s, but there are a few differences in how the new dress is constructed (namely that there’s now a waist seam and some gathers in the skirt).

  6. You know what? I’m going to step away from any sort of speculation that she’s pregnant. Maybe they don’t even plan to have kids – and maybe they *can’t* have kids.

    I also think it’s rude if everyone goes crazy and thinks she’s pregnant every time she looks as though she may have gained weight. I recently put on a few pounds, and I had a rude relative ask if I was pregnant (I’m not). Imagine being the Duchess and hearing pregnancy rumors every.single.time you indulge a bit and have some ice cream or a cookie after dinner. Good gravy.

  7. Kate looks beautiful as always, but the dress is terrible. It reminds me of dresses I wore when I was 14 — 45 years ago! And the ankle boots make a bad look even worse.

  8. Just curious…. is there some sort of unspoken protocol (similar to the hose) with regards to wearing ponytails?

    Before the wedding, she wore some darling hairstyles. I like her hair — I think it’d look equally good up, though. I don’t understand the reluctance. (She seemed to wear more styles pre-wedding.)

  9. Just curious…. is their some sort of unspoken protocol (similar to the hose) with regards to wearing ponytails?

    Before the wedding, she wore some darling hairstyles. I like her hair — I think it’d look equally good up.
    I don’t understand the reluctance. (She seemed to do it more pre-wedding.)

  10. I like the dress. I must be honest, if I had seen it on a shop I would never look twice, but the dress looks much better on Kate than on the hanger. I like the pattern (it’s fun), the shape (youthful and unpretentious) and the color (suitable for winter).

    I have a dress of that shape, and even though I’m not as tall as Kate, everytime I wear it people compliment me and said I look adorable. It works fine for a day-look. I think what Kate was trying to do with that choice was to look friendly for the children, and I guess she just did.

    I love the ankle boots and tights, but I wouldn’t wear a black cluch with a brown ensemble. Maybe a yellow? Something unexpected for a change?

    I see no problem with her legs, I will kill for legs like that!

    I don’t think she’s pregnant. We will know she’s pregnant when her breasts got bigger, Kate’s is so flat that with 4 weeks on will be noticeable.

    About the dog’s name, a funny note: “Lupo” is also a name of a very famous brazilian brand of socks and tights… rsrsrs

  11. Not a good choice of outfit at all. The cut of the dress is cute, but the fabric is just weird. I know it is trendy right now, but I would prefer the dress with a more modern fabric or this bird fabric with a modern cut dress. The brown tights and the brown boots are just too much brown and seriously those boots look rather worn to me.

    I am not sure how the ‘palace’ feels about her wearing pants, but these visits without William would be perfect occasions for her to wear some cool slacks and a blouse or top. Plus she wouldn’t have to worry about wind damage at all.

    • Yes!! I agree — some cool slacks and a chic blouse or top with hair up… to kind of distinguish a different side of her. On these solo outings, it’s the perfect time to show her versatility. (Nothing wrong with her usual style, it’s just an idea!)

  12. I really do not like the dress. It is very ugly! She is so pretty and she looks gorgeous in anything she puts on, but this time she blew it. Miss Catherine, please ask for a bit of help when ou choose your dresses!

  13. Btw, to those who live in the US, Anthropologie sells Orla Kiely items.

  14. I don’t think this dress is childish at all. I love this dress and it looks great on her. There’s a difference between dressing youthful and chic versus childish. This is youthfully chic. The print is great and the cut is on-trend. Maybe if she wore sheer tights than opaque it would appear more “adult.” And maybe if she paired the dress with stiletto booties it would help look a bit more adult and glam. But I am obsessed with these booties… I want a pair. Overall, she pulls it off and she looks fab.

  15. Her legs are not flattered by this style. They simply are NOT.

    The bird print is great, and the style of the dress is cool, but legs that look too thin just make her look ill — maybe she is suffering from morning sickness, and WE just don’t know it yet.

    I just see some of these dresses, and ask myself several questions:

    1. Is she sending her Selfridges Personal Shopper to consignment shops and/or thrift stores to land her some bargains so she can spend $10,000 pounds on the next very lovely ball gown? The girl does have a budget for public appearances, and so planning must be done here.
    2. Is she trying to choose dresses she can also wear while pregnant, thereby camouflaging the pregnancy so it cannot be dated or guessed at?
    3. Is she just not the clothes horse we wish her to be, and she is ALSO vomiting profoundly every morning, so that by the time she makes a public appearance she is just scraping by the morning sickness to be able to smile and stand up straight without looking green to all of us who have been that sick?

    I have been asking myself these questions for a couple of months now.

    Her purchases that seem like they were PROBABLY made at Selfridges are all excellent choices — They seem as though a smart stylist at the store is behind a good many of them — such as the many good dresses she wore while on tour in Canada.

    But, left to her own devices, she chooses this?

  16. I ‘am loosing interest in her very quickly, this outfit looks awful it looks drab like a couch cover even on her slim figure. She dresses modestly but a little Variety please.

  17. I really like this dress. But I like this one from the same designer even better.

  18. It’s not my fave dress I’d look horrid in it but Kate pulls it off and the matching bag that i’ve seen that goes along with this dress is very cute.

  19. I really like what the Duchess is wearing – style and pattern are fun. I’ve been looking at pix on other sites and I think the clutch is dark brown. I’d be surprised if she had a black clutch with a fundamentally brown outfit. Not sure if we are allowed to mention sites but this is particularly noticable on the Zimbio site.

    Like to add that I think this is a really good site – thank you

  20. I am very disappointed in this choice. This fashion for these slightly high-waisted little girl dresses doesn’t suit many adult women; even the model pictured in the blue dress (with the giraffes in the background) simply looks like an overgrown school girl.

    I feel it is yet another dreary choice, especially when in the company of children.

    And I do wish Catherine would put her hair up. Princess Diana used to say ‘the wind is my enemy’, with regard to hair & hats, and it is clearly Catherine’s too as she constantly has to hold it back to stop it blowing everywhere.

    I’m definitely feeling rather disgruntled today!

    • Agreed 100%. Im really starting to loose interest in what she wears. Its the same over and over. She also needs to start weighting her dresses like she is supposed to because as you said, wind is her enemy. Her dress is too short and im sorry, but the girl has got to cover up the chicken legs.

    • A rather poorly dressed overgrown schoolgirl at that. Sock for goodness sake. And rather baggy ones at that. Are models supposed to enhance what they model or put people off?
      Models in general seem to stand awkwardly, ugly even, and seem to do nothing for the clothes they wear.
      Am I missing something?

      I preferred the coat Catherine wore with those boots the first time. She looks as if she’s regressing to kids clothes rather than something a duchess would wear.
      I too am disgruntled by this.

      • All of my knowledge of modeling comes from episodes of “America’s Next Top Model,” but I remember that they were always encouraging the women to stand awkwardly because it created “angles.” That is all I have to offer!

    • This poor girl can’t catch a break with her wardrobe choices. When she dresses maturely she gets criticized for not being edgy enough and when she dresses like this one she gets criticized for dressing like a little girl. I think Diana got advice from Vogue’s Anna Wintour regarding how to dress and I absolutely loved most of what she wore. But personally I think Catherine is doing fine on her own. I would only suggest that when she wear a full skirt, she put some weights in the hem like Diana did. Avoids those windy problems :)

  21. I actually really liked this dress on her. I think it’s quirky and fun while being somewhat retro in silhouette. It’s actually a departure from her usual rigid style. I don’t find the silhouette immature at all.. it’s in fact making a comeback. Also loved the McQueens and some of the Erdems.
    Now only if she would do something different with her hair.

  22. Admittedly, this isn’t exactly my favorite Kate dress, but conceptually, I think it’s a perfect idea to wear Orla Kiely to an Art Room event. Great way to feature a modern day UK artist in a kid-friendly way…

  23. The waist looks a little high to me. Not my favorite.

  24. I don’t particularly like this dress but that’s viewing it through the lens of what I would/could/should wear. I would think this style is not that wearable for most women for a variety of reasons so I am a bit surprised it has sold out so quickly, despite the “Kate effect”.

    On Kate, it’s a cute, fairly subtle print (you can’t really tell it’s birds from a distance) the bird theme/pattern is very thoughtful given the occasion, and she is probably one of the few people who can successfully wear this style–the full skirt with large buttons on the bodice do run the risk of looking like something borrowed from the girls’ department but Kate manages to pull it off thanks to the subtle and grown up accessories.

    I have one of Orla Kiely’s laminated bags with the stem pattern in a fairly subdued colour combo–it’s great on those rainy days when I don’t want my leather briefcase to become a sodden mess, but I have to say I prefer her housewares to her clothing/bags.

    Now, the McQ stuff is luxurious looking and I am definitely lusting after the Erdem dress that is second from the right in the last row, although I can better see Kate wearing the black/blue print dress with the fuller skirt which is second from the right in the middle Erdem row. Can’t wait to see what Kate chooses for her upcoming Jubilee appearances.

  25. I looked at the website and Orla has some interesting things. I saw several other dresses – particularly an olive green one – that would look fine on Kate. I think it needs to be a little longer. Maybe she wears the dark colors on these visits to hid any dirt or spots since she is interacting with children and going to bars making smoothies… I think she needs to use weights or a slip under her dresses to avoid any mishaps like in Canada. She looks good with more fullness around the hips and rear – it balances her body out. I am really thin too but I have a tiny waist that gives me more hips so I look dumpy with anything full around the hips.

    While I was recovering from surgery over the holidays, I found some Aquatalia booties online at several websites – 6PM.com and zappos.com. I purchases a pair of Aquatalia Radical booties for $235 down from $400 plus another pair of Aquatalia slip on suede shoes (that I am wearing right now). I got these for $79 down from $300. The Radical booties are similar to the Royal booties. I was nervous buying the shoes online but after reading the reviews I decided to splurge. The Aquatalia shoes seem to run narrow and you need to order a half size larger. This is the most I have ever spent on one piece of clothing but worth it. I absolutely love both pairs.

    I love the Erdem outfits and I agree one would need to be careful in how the hair is worn and to accessorized them minimally or one could look dowdy.

  26. If you love the Aquatalia boots she wears you should also check out this brand…I own the “Mila” booties by La Canadienne which seem quite similar to the ones featured here. Amazing quality boots, well worth the price!!!


  27. Poor Kate: so thin, so cheap, so tacky, so scruffy.
    Beautiful Kate: her smile and her grace make me wink at her style.
    Besides naming italian her dog, she should look at italian exquisite taste in clothes – just inspiring, i know that probably she has to wear british. Medium-level fashion (high quality at right price) is far better there (in Italy).

  28. Oh, I love this outfit. I understand how some could feel that this is an immature silhouette, but I think that it stops short of appearing childlike, perhaps because of the fabric. I know that the fabric is also a problem for a few of you, but I think that the print works because of the subdued color and the smallness of the birds… you really can’t tell that they are birds unless you look closely. For some reason, I feel like this dress looks slightly (ever so slightly) Victorian. Something about the buttons.

    I’ve tried to wear dresses in this silhouette and I’ve found it remarkably hard to pull off. If the waist fits, the bodice is too large. If both waist and bodice fit, there is extra fabric that poufs out around my shoulders (probably because I’m short). Undoubtedly, I could correct this with tailoring, but I always just decide to pass on buying the piece. Lucky Catherine… I realize she probably gets everything tailored, but this silhouette is probably much more flattering on her even sans tailoring.

    I love ankle boots, particularly these.

    • Surely it’s not so much that the silhouette is immature but rather that it’s a style that’s so much in fashion now — lots of high-neckline, high-waistline almost Victorian doll-like looks. I think Kate actually gives the look a bit of much-needed class!

      Agree with you about the difficulty of wearing it and am also impressed at the amazing trick Kate has pulled off by making it wearable for a royal outing.

      • I’m afraid I disagree. I don’t think she pulled it off, I think the dress looks ridiculous and quite far from “classy” on her. No woman of 30 (or even 20) should dress this way.

        There was an unfortunate trend towards high-waisted little-girl dresses worn by adult women back in the 90′s. The women who wore them didn’t seem to grasp how ludicrous they looked, but at least most of them were university-aged. I suppose we have to expect virtually everything to come ’round again, but this is one trend that I would happily never have seen again.

        • I’m not sure I would describe this style as high-waisted, ie. designed to sit well above the natural waist. If you look at at the model wearing the dress, the waist appears to sit in the area of her natural waist or only slightly above it. If anything I would describe this dress as being a bit short waisted on Kate ie. because she has a long torso the waist of the dress sits too high on her–this seems to be borne out by the dress length as well, which is also shorter on Kate by an inch or two than on the model. This seems more like a fit issue than a style one.

          If you watch “What Not to Wear” (the US version) the hosts always go on about how a high waist is flattering because it emphasizes what, for many, is the narrowest part of them. So personally I don’t mind the high waist, as long as it is not accompanied by a little girl collar and full skirt. I could never get away with that in my workplace which is conservative and fairly formal–no one would take me seriously–but for others it may be a flattering and appropriate style.

          • Lili, I already knew you disagreed because I read your comment before posting my own. You raise valid points, but I still fail to see why this style is a dress “no woman” should wear, especially if she likes the style (which the Duchess apparently does, since she has worn this style in the past). Taste in clothing is very subjective, a way of expressing our individuality, and what is one person’s cup of tea is another person’s arsenic. If you don’t like it, don’t wear it, but your own opinion should not preclude others from enjoying the style if it’s to their liking.

            I vaguely recall the babydoll dress trend, but if I remember correctly they tended to be empire waisted (if they had a waist at all) and extremely short.

  29. Gorgeous. She does understated but with an edge, and that’s a seriously canny choice of designer. The dress shape fills out our heroine’s over-lean figure nicely and the style and pattern are a fun choice for going to visit kids. And then those prints are so on-trend right now.

    Catherine is also one of only a handful of women on the planet who can carry off wearing ankle boots successfully. Many have tried, but most end up looking too broad in the ankle. Not a problem here.

  30. Not my favorite dress by a country mile. I think this is where Kate takes a wrong turn in her outfits for official appearances – she can get a bit costume-y with them. Remember that military-esque outfit when she visited Birmingham after the riots? This is kind of the same thing to me: A bird pattern for visiting kids (and reading “The Owl and the Pussycat”).

    I would have loved the dress if it had been in another pattern, like a houndstooth. I also wish she’d put her hair up, but that’s just me.

  31. This is not my favorite of her looks. I think the pattern and the cut are kind of distracting. The cutting is kinda junior-ish to my eyes. But it does fit her straight figure better than most of us. :) Maybe if it was a solid color, such as red, or vine, even navy would look much sleeker.

  32. I hope Kate doesn’t use any more Orla Kiely. I really didn’t like her collection at all.

  33. I said the other day that I thought Orla Kiely’s designs were very childish, and this dress only underscores my point. The Duchess evidently likes the occasional dress that looks as though it was designed for 8 or 10 year olds, but they are not at all to my own tastes.

    Perhaps she thought this would work well for meeting and interacting with children. I can’t quite imagine why else she chose it.

    I do like those boots.

    The Erdems are mostly lovely, though some of them could look dowdy if the wearer were not careful. Is Sarah Burton at McQueen thinking Christian Dior? She seems to have resurrected the New Look.

    “Lupo” means wold in Italian. “In bocca al lupo!” (In the mouth of the wolf) means “Good luck!”

    • Yikes. That should read, “Lupo” means wolf in Italian.

    • What if they’re both big Harry Potter fans, and it’s an homage to Remus Lupin? Ohmygosh, how awesome would that be?

      • Funny you should say that — I was just thinking the same thing!

        • The Duchess studied in Italy — she did a program in Florence — and probably speaks a bit of Italian. Many people like to name their dogs “Wolf”. Let’s hope she suggested using “Lupo” as an alternative.

          I suspect that if she and Prince William had really wanted to make a reference to Remus Lupin, they would have chosen “Remus” or “Lupin” as a name.

  34. The worst dress worn up to this moment.

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