May 142013

Fashion trade publication Women’s Wear Daily (often referred to as WWD in this space) has two stories today related to Kate’s maternity style: one article looks at the changing use of maternity wear, and what defines maternity wear.

We’ll begin with the second WWD piece. It features a series of maternity styles sketches by noted designers, offering their visions of looks they might create for Kate if given the opportunity. Our first three designs begin with a Kate favorite, Amanda Wakeley, followed by looks from Huishan Zhang (center) and Vera Wang (right).

Amanda Wakeley, Huishan Zhang, Vera Wang Courtesy Images via Women's Wear Daily

Amanda Wakeley, Huishan Zhang, Vera Wang Courtesy Images via Women’s Wear Daily

All three looks are more-than-wearable, and very flattering. Amanda Wakeley describes her design for the WWD story:

“… a softly draped cocktail dress from our spring collection, but in an exclusive made-to-order mallard green… a shade I think would be amazing on her coloring…It is youthful yet demure with a beautiful embellished shoulder.”

The Huishan Zhang has a floaty, ethereal look in a color we know is lovely on the Duchess, the designer’s notes explain “The bottom and back are embroidered in eyelet in a Chinese flower shape.” He clearly knows that Kate is fond of that element in a frock. The Vera Wang is a classic, elegant style incorporating another oft-seen Duchess design element, lace.

Following are three more designs, all of them a little kicky, for lack of a better descriptor. The Nanette Lepore sketch notes that dress would be of “fadeaway printed organza,” while the salmon Chloé has a tailored look with its ruffled neckline and detail above the hem. The Lela Rose dress showcases ornate beadwork on the bodice, a very pretty design.

Nanette Lepore, Chloé & Lela Rose Courtesy Images via

Nanette Lepore, Chloé & Lela Rose Courtesy Images via

Following are three more designs, the first is by Lorry Newhouse in a pretty blue, it appears to have cascading blue ruffles and three-quarter sleeves. Andrew Gn’s design is a “black and white egg shaped dress with our own ‘Duchess’ bag in white croc”. The Nina Ricci dress would be crafted of a stretch silk crepe material with black detailing at the bodice and neckline.

Lorry Newhouse, Andrew Gn & Nina Ricci Courtesy Images via Women's Wear Daily

Lorry Newhouse, Andrew Gn & Nina Ricci Courtesy Images via Women’s Wear Daily

Below are three actual dresses by Lorry Newhouse. While it is difficult to see from the Newhouse sketch, some design elements are similar to those found in these three dresses from the Newhouse spring 2013 collection. (Hopefully the less exuberant parts of the center design.)

Lorry Newhouse

Lorry Newhouse

Back to the drawings, Alexis Mabille offers a dress with a knotted bodice detail above a cutout, Nicole Miller’s design also has a point of interest at the bodice as well as the hem.

Alexis Mabille & Nicole Miller Courtesy Images via

Alexis Mabille & Nicole Miller Courtesy Images via

Two designers submitted evening wear sketches.  Below left is the Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel design. You can see from the notes o the drawing that the dress would have a waist in the front, jersey fabric would be used and there would also be voluminous lace. Mr. Lagerfeld added that “I think this design is very much in her taste.”

Karl Lagerfeld-Chanel & Donna Karan Courtesy Images via

Karl Lagerfeld-Chanel & Donna Karan Courtesy Images via

On the right is Donna Karan’s creation, her comments from the story:

Kate Middleton is elegant, sensual, timeless. This is a dress she could wear forever, at any age, at any stage, during and after her pregnancy.”

There are a number of designs I liked a great deal. For some reason I am drawn to the Andrew Gn, perhaps because I am so fond of his design aesthetic. (His spring and fall collections were both filled with stunning pieces.)  Of course, I would prefer it be longer than shown in the sketch. The Vera Wang was appealing, as was the Chloé, the latter an odd choice because I am not generally fond of ruffles.  And I also liked the Lela Rose and Nanette Lepore.

As referenced in the introduction to the post, Women’s Wear Daily also has a piece examining maternity clothing in general, Maternity Clothes: Yea or Nay?  The story talks about Kate’s decision to wear ‘standard’ or ‘regular’ womenswear for the duration of her pregnancy thus far, with the exception of one garment, the polka dot Topshop dress.

James Whatling/Splash News

James Whatling/Splash News

The article is written by Samantha Conti, WWD’s London Bureau Chief.

Few department and specialty stores offer maternity clothing anymore, because even those women who are not living in palaces — or penthouses — are shopping their closets, adapting their existing wardrobes and choosing to spend their money on pieces that will last long after they have a baby.

Perhaps it is the interviews with fashion insiders, those who work at the department stores where many mothers-to-be shop, that shed the most light on the status of maternity clothing.

“We do not carry maternitywear anymore at Bloomingdale’s, but we have a young customer base — mothers who shop here regularly for maternity clothes,” said Stephanie Solomon, the store’s fashion director. “Emily Gerne, our manager of business development, has never once bought maternitywear. She is on her second child, and is currently in her eighth month of pregnancy,” she said.

The story also quotes designers who have created pieces for the Duchess.

Emilia Wickstead, whose clients include the Duchess of Cambridge and Britain’s First Lady Samantha Cameron, gave birth to her first child in December. Rather than maternity clothes, she said she “used existing styles out of my own collection, things I would have normally worn belted I wore loose.”

Wickstead noted that she’s no different from her customers. “I think modern women want quality, investment pieces that they can wear again and again.” She added that her alterations for mothers-to-be are minimal — she’ll raise a waistline and level a hem to accommodate a growing belly, if needed. “It’s pretty straightforward,” she said.

Below we see Kate in the Emilia Wickstead dress worn to the National Portrait Gallery in April.

Weir Photos / Splash News

Weir Photos / Splash News

Ms. Conti’s story was enlightening, discussing the cost factor as a determinant in making purchasing decisions for many expectant mothers. It also covers the much buzzed about Topshop and ASOS maternity collections, as well as other factors impacting maternity designs, like advanced textiles, and new philosophies about maternity practices in general.

Readers may also be interested in a very brief look at the topic as it relates to Kate’s fashion choices, Kate’s Non-Maternity Maternity Wardrobe, was a theme covered in one of my weekly columns for, it dates to April 24.

Tangentially, The Telegraph also has a story on the topic, Time for the Duchess of Cambridge to dress for the royal baby in waiting.  We’ll be looking at this story and the topic in greater depth in a future post, but here is a snippet from the story:

Kate’s apparent aversion to maternity clothes is said to stem from a desire to avoid shrouding her bump in baggy, tent-like fabrics. “Kate doesn’t want a frump bump,” a friend told journalists last week.

But Lisa Armstrong, the Telegraph’s fashion editor, says Kate may find it hard to shed her thrifty ways and upscale her maternity wardrobe. “She’s innately frugal and those habits die hard,” she insists.

To see the Telegraph story in its entirety, click here.  For those interested in the two Women’s Wear Daily stories, I am afraid both are behind the paywall (from the portion of the site requiring a subscription). Most local libraries carry the publication, and many also have access to it via their research databases for library card holders. It’s also possible you can see more on the WWD Facebook page, I don’t believe either of these stories are in the no subscription required category.)

We leave you with a fun image. Remember the Kate doll shown to the Duchess during her April visit to Scotland with Prince William? Well, Harry was also given a doll today while in New Jersey, his own lookalike. Our thanks to Rebecca English of the Daily Mail for sharing both photos on Twitter.

Rebecca English/The Daily Mail & Mail Online

Rebecca English/The Daily Mail & Mail Online

  26 Responses to “Fashion Designers Create Maternity Looks for Kate & Is Maternitywear A Necessity for Kate or Anyone Else?”

  1. Such beautiful sketches, they are all so fluid and classic. Kate Middleton really was a gorgeous pregnant woman.

  2. Are we really that concerned with whether she’s wearing maternity clothes or not? I mean, I realize there are whole blogs (ahem) dedicated to what she wears. But come on ladies, as long as it fits, who cares if it’s a dress from her closet, the runway or a bona fide maternity line. A lot of women don’t need maternity clothes until the end of their pregnancy; some women need them earlier. But anyone who has been pregnant has most likely worn her “regular” clothes for as long as possible and for any number of reasons. Personally, I felt less pregnant, less dumpy, more feminine in non-maternity clothes. Can’t we all just celebrate the fact that she looks great and … good for her … is rocking her bump in heels and fantastic frocks.

  3. While I have known women who were able to not need any maternity clothing, I was not one of those women. I was early in my first trimester when I could no longer button my blouses. I went from a 36C to a 40F and from a size 9 shoe to an 11 wide shoe by the time I delivered. There was no way I was going to be able to wear my regular clothing. Shifting to larger sized clothing wasn’t a viable solution either as the proportions were wrong. I needed more room in the seat, hips, belly, and chest area but I didn’t need longer pants and sleeves. We don’t expect petite women or tall women to just buy smaller or larger sizes. The same should be said for pregnant women While I was disappointed in the overall quality of maternity clothing (cheap polyester fabrics, poor construction, and obnoxious patterns), I was grateful for items that were cut for my changing shape.

    I think the advantage that Kate has is that she is very tall with an athletic build. I’m nearly half a foot shorter with a curvy build. I also carried very low and delivered a nearly nine pound baby that was overdue in the middle of a heat wave in the California desert. I purchased a few dresses, a few pairs of jeans, a few pairs of cotton capris, t-shirts, and some blouses. Oh, I also purchased maternity underwear. Heavenly maternity underwear. Everything was from Target, Old Navy, The Gap, and Maternity Motherhood. While I would have liked to purchase higher quality items as I knew I could wear them again in the event of another pregnancy or sell them to another pregnant woman, there weren’t very many options available. When I was about 10-12 weeks postpartum none of these clothes fit. The t-shirt’s were like tents and the pants were wildly uncomfortable. While I wasn’t yet in my pre-pregnancy size, my body shape had transitioned back to a “normal” shape.

  4. Over the weekend Catherine’s sister, Pippa, attended a wedding and wore a beige hat that looks to be the same style that Catherine wore back on March 20th, when traveling on the tube with the Queen. Catherine’s was black velvet (?) but Pippa’s seems to be made out of straw. Did anyone else notice? I personally LOVE the style, very simple but elegant.

    • I noticed, and yes, I think the hats are identical in design. I liked that hat on the Duchess the first time I saw it, worn to a wedding with her velvet Libelula Dulwich coat. She did wear it again on the Tube with the Queen.

  5. Of all the dresses, I am most partial to the Andrew Gn and Amanda Wakeley designs-something about them is so striking, fresh, modern and edgy. I can’t really articulate why-they just say chutzpah to me, and aren’t the sweet matronly types of designs one normally associates with maternity wear. Mr. Gn’s and Ms. Wakeley’s designs say, “yes I’m pregnant but I can still get down to business”-very fashion forward in my opinion.

  6. I’m expecting my second and due at the same time as Kate, and there is not a single thing in my wardrobe that would work as maternity wear. I’m petite and wear fairly fitted clothes, but this pregnancy has grown quickly and baby is riding very low, so everything I own would look and feel terrible. It’s nice that there are some people who can avoid buying maternity wear for as long as possible, but saying that we should avoid it entirely is ridiculous. I’m just grateful there are cute and stylish options out there at reasonable prices.

  7. I hadn’t realized before this that wearing one’s regular wardrobe through pregnancy had become the thing to do. As Mei did, I bought very few maternity pieces and of the clothes that were hand-me-downs I ended up wearing only a few. I only really needed underwear and some dresses for the last ponderous weeks before my summer baby was born. Maternity clothes are expensive, and most of the readily available stuff is not particularly well made.

    I agree with the article that mentioned that “no one eats for two” nowadays (that’s afterwards, if you breastfeed, ha). Maternity clothes just don’t seem terribly relevant anymore.

    One thing I’ve been wondering about – wearing high heels during pregnancy. Maybe it’s just me, but I can barely walk in heels while not pregnant. Yet it seems that almost every celebrity photographed while pregnant is in heels.

    • I have noticed this too, and just think it’s down to them being accustomed to wearing heels all the time, they are probably as comfortable as flats are for us non-celebs. Can’t imagine having to wear heels all the time and be dressed to the nth degree as well. High maintenance lifestyle for sure.

  8. whatever, Kate did well in no buying a lot of maternity dresses : till the 23th of April her bump was not that big, her former clothes were well looking on her.
    Her agenda is not that busy, she can go on with one or two (at the latest) new maternity dresses, in very few weeks all will be back to “normality” (not in a pejorative sens)
    Nanette Lepore, Chloé and Nina Ricci are my favorites. Lagerfeld’s is more Diana-type and Donna Karan more CP May-type.

  9. I don’t understand how Karl Lagerfeld could possibly say that his design “is very much in her taste.” The chest cut-out isn’t very “Kate” at all. The Donna Karan feels very Issa to me. It’s gorgeous and she would look fantastic in it, but doesn’t seem fresh for the Duchess. Other than that I love almost all of them :)

  10. The Zhang dress reminds me of the one Victoria Beckham wore to the royal wedding two years ago. She was pregnant at that time.

    Love the Donna Karan and Lela Rose designs best.

  11. This isn’t about Kate’s dresses – but about the Countess of Wessex. Did anyone see the black and cream dress she wore in France yesterday? Who makes these clothes!!! The material is very pretty, and the style is not bad, BUT the dress looks awful. There is a section across her midriff area where the patterns DO NOT match up, which makes the entire outfit look cheap. For the price the royals pay for their designer clothes, this should be totally unacceptable. Does anyone else agree with me?

  12. I adore the blue Emilia Wickstead dress she wore that was custom designed. I hope she will modify it and wear it again post-pregnancy!

  13. I actually really like the fact that the Duchess does not wear a lot of maternity clothes. When I was pregnant, the only maternity piece I bought were a pair of jeans and a pair of dress pants. Not everybody can afford a whole new wardrobe when they get pregnant. Bravo to the Duchess for showing us that existing pieces can work with just a little modification.I think a lot of women can be inspired to wear the clothes they already have during pregnancy.

  14. Thank you, Susan, for such a fun and intelligent post! I do appreciate your addressing the criticisms of Kate ‘s “non-maternity” maternity wardrobe. Lots of people in the WKW community share this opinion (which is fine), but the most interesting part of this idea is that it has been picked up by the press.

    The obvious spin in the Telegraph’s article makes me smile. Of course, the maternity wear industry is only too happy to go on record discussing their disappointment that Kate doesn’t “indulge” in their business; I sense that a lot of these companies are smarting that they have not been able to experience the “Kate effect” in dollars and pounds. I am only too happy to continue applauding Kate for her practical fashion choices as she rounds out her pregnancy.

  15. Love those Lorry Newhouse dresses!

  16. I am torn. One the one hand, I understand that people want Kate to wear more maternity pieces, but at the same time, I feel that if she did, she would be criticized for spending too much money. The poor girl can’t win!

    My only criticism of Kate is in regard to her dresses and the wind. This is the 3rd time her skirt’s blown up in a breeze. Is she going to learn her lesson?

    • It is beyond credibility that she is not weighting her hems. I expect she has been doing this for some time, that her assistant and other royal women discussed this with her eons ago.

      However, as I’ve mentioned before, hem weights will not work if the fabric of a skirt or dress is very flimsy and if the weather becomes blustery. Only very heavy weights might be effective, and these could wreak havoc with the hang of a hem if the fabric is very thin and light.

      The only alternative is to stick with heavy, stiff fabrics.

      I recall that William’s mother had this problem more than once, and there’s an interesting photograph of Princess Anne’s knicker-clad derriere gloriously displayed for all to see at an official event that took place on a windy day.

      • I’m so glad to read this from a reasonable person! Even the Queen has had issues.

        There is a photo by Reginald Davis of the Queen with green flowered dress. She is wearing a slip but even that isn’t enough to stop the wind from whipping up both her dress and slip to reveal her legs well above her knees. She’s about 50 so it isn’t that she wouldn’t know about these challenges.

        There are examples for every female of the Royal family. It’s just impossible sometimes to fight the wind even with more narrow skirts/dresses (like the example of the Queen above)

  17. I like the first group by Amanda Wakeley the most. They look more Kate-ish to me.

    • Actually, only one of those designs is by Wakeley; the others are by Huishan Zhang and Vera Wang. I agree, though, that the Wakeley looks very “Duchess. The Wang would probably work as well, since Wang has a very elegant, minimalist approach that would suit the Duchess. I’m not so sure about the Zhang. I’d have to see it executed.

  18. I love all the designs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Whether or not a woman buys maternity wear is going to depend on the individual. Some women will really need it; others, like the Duchess, will be able to get away with relatively few examples. A lot also depends on the woman’s job, if she has one, and what type of climate she lives in.

    I think it’s a great idea to encourage women to buy non-maternity clothes that can work both with a bump and later, perhaps with tailoring or belting. People who love clothes and spend a fair amount on them should be delighted to get the most out of what they’ve spent. I think the Duchess has been doing that by going for items she’ll be able to wear after the baby is born.

    As for these designs, they’re a lot of fun — well, except for the Newhouse, which comprises much too much frou-frou for my tastes. The Donna Karan is gorgeous. I’m interested to see the Nanette Lepore design. I own two of her dresses, one purchased very recently. She has a bit of a vintage aesthetic but can be inconsistent. I don’t like everything she produces, but every now and then, she comes up with some really wonderful things.

  20. Donna Karan and Lela Rose are my favorites by far!

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