William and Kate have been back home for a few days now, it seems a good time to do a post offering some very limited observations about the visit.
A number of very good perspective pieces have been written about the trip. Perhaps my favorite is the one by Gordon Rayner of The Daily Telegraph: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit New York: what we’ve learned. I especially liked the item Mr. Rayner put at the top of his list.
1. The Duchess of Cambridge isn’t afraid of the fashion police
The Duchess was under pressure to look her very best when she and the Duke attended a fundraising dinner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in aid of St Andrews University’s 600th anniversary appeal, but she very much went her own way.
Guests who had paid thousands of dollars each for tickets had eagerly anticipated what the Duchess might be wearing, and by wearing a Jenny Packham dress that she had worn twice before the Duchess showed that she is not prepared to spend big just to impress paying guests.
This syncs with my thoughts about Kate’s dress selection for the event at the Met.
While many of us would have enjoyed seeing a new frock (‘enjoyed’ being an understatement), in many respects it simply didn’t make sense: there would have been a sizable expense in creating an evening gown for a figure that is 5-months pregnant and it is unlikely the frock would ever be worn again. The appearance of stunning new jewelry helped take the sting off an anticlimactic frock many, and if that didn’t work, surely seeing Kate looking elegant, radiant and every bit the royal would have done the trick.
For an insider’s view of Tuesday night’s black-tie function, as well as photos most won’t have seen, A Night Amongst Will and Kate is well worth a read. My thanks to Ginger who shared a link to the piece in her comment.
This was quietly the hottest ticket in town this week. I say quietly because several people mentioned it to me over the past few days, and always with the question: “Are you going to meet the royal couple?”
Few seemed to realize that this was a university fund-raising dinner, not unlike the dozens or thousands that go on every year everywhere in this country and elsewhere. The difference of course was the presence of the Royal Couple, the most glamorous royal couple of the House of Windsor
They are gracious and kind and seemingly without an edge or an air of distance. Although that’s probably there anyway; it’s a professional requirement.
SO WAS IT amazing, trendsetting, hemline-changing? Will it transform forever the fortunes of an obscure but hugely talented young designer, or alter the item on the top of everyone’s Christmas wish list? Did, in other words, the visit of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, a.k.a. Kate Middleton, to the East Coast this week have a fashion impact felt round the world?
Ms. Friedman’s story is called “Prince William and Kate Try to Seem Normal” (remember that the writer does not come up with the headlines, that is someone else’s task altogether), it is a read I think you will find interesting.
For many, one of the highlights was Kate and William’s attendance at an NBA game in Brooklyn. More specifically, people enjoyed seeing the Duke and Duchess meet Beyonce and Jay Z.
There have been a few stories noting the couples looked somewhat awkward; I have nary a clue, not having watched any video of the event. But I would ask a hypothetical: how does one make casual conversation with new acquaintances in the middle of this? And this is just a photo, it does not convey the noise level inside the arena, which I did hear; it sounded deafening.
Some felt Kate was overdressed for the event; I didn’t think that was the case. The primary reason the two were at the basketball game was to officially announce a new initiative between the NBA and the Royal Foundation. This involved formal photos with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and other dignitaries; the ensemble was spot-on in that regard. When it came to meeting Beyonce and Jay Z the Duchess seemed appropriately attired, especially when seeing what Beyonce was wearing: a smart pencil skirt and blouse with heels.
As to why the Duchess didn’t remove her coat, that seems to be a matter of preference with Kate, she frequently leaves her coat on when indoors. For a sports perspective on the NBA visit, we turn to ESPN’s videos and story titled Royal visit brings buzz to Barclays:
William and Kate’s arrival to their courtside seats across from the Nets’ bench created a stir in the middle of the third quarter.
…there was a moment that captivated the entire Barclays Center when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met and exchanged pleasantries with music’s royal couple — Jay Z and Beyonce — on the court before the start of the fourth quarter.
The most polarizing look was Kate’s pink coat at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.
The cerise Mulberry coat provoked the most heated debate of the visit. Some believe Kate should have been in a more subdued color for this event, that the bright pink was inappropriate. In my opinion there is no moral imperative here, no right or wrong attached to how one feels about the coat choice. Most had quick, visceral reactions to the piece when first seeing it and I respect the widely varying reactions the coat color provoked. A great deal of planning would have gone into what the Duchess wore to the Memorial, and it’s highly likely that when planners at the Palace spoke with officials representing the Memorial protocol would have been discussed.
Another element probably at play: I imagine there was a formal request that Kate and William spend even the briefest amount of time at the recently completed One World Trade Center after concluding their time at the Memorial and Museum. Having been through the Oklahoma City bombing I know that after getting through that one year anniversary civic leaders felt strongly the city needed to look forward, building on the community’s resilience and hope while maintaining the respect and sensitivity to the past. It’s likely officials asked that the Duke and Duchess to stop at the new building, it is symbolic of the city’s tenacity and capacity to rebuild. I would also suggest that those planning the visit would have seen and shared images of the vibrant mural by Jose Parla adorning the newly-finished lobby; Kate would have known what the backdrop would be for photos.
This would have influenced her wardrobe choices for the visit to the Memorial and Museum.
This is not offered for justification for what the Duchess elected to wear on Tuesday. It is merely offered as background on factors that may have impacted what Kate wore. Again, there isn’t a right or wrong in this instance: how one feels about the color of Kate’s coat isn’t something to be defended, at least not in this space. It’s not only understandable there are widely varying reactions to the coat, it’s to be expected.
This does lead us to discussion about some of the recent comments made here on the site. There’s no quarrel with how one reacts to this outfit, or any others worn by the Duchess. Healthy, respectful discussion is not only desired, it is encouraged. Watching Lili and ElizaMo or Ashley Olivia debate the merits of a hemline or the way a dress fits isn’t just enjoyable, it’s educational. In those instances, and almost all others, people agree to disagree. They do so politely, even warmly. But unfortunately we’ve encountered a spate of comments that stray from being polite; some have been offensive. It is not okay to refer to someone as a fool. Nor is it acceptable to belittle another’s opinion, or to label it as stupid, idiotic, ridiculous or to use any other pejorative term in responding to someone else’s comment.
Of equal importance: maintaining a respectful tone when sharing opinions on what Kate has worn. Comments referring to the Duchess as a moron, a nitwit, a disgrace or other derogatory terms of this ilk are simply deleted. That doesn’t translate into sycophancy. It’s merely the difference between saying “I don’t think the dress is cut right” or “it’s not a flattering look” and saying “She looks like an idiot” or “I can’t believe she would wear such a trashy dress”. In some cases it’s a matter of tone; because this is the written word we need to remember one can’t hear vocal inflections. In summation, we have worked hard over the years to create a community here at WKW, and will continue efforts to ensure civility remains as we evolve.
Moving back to stories recapping the NY visit, we look at one of the more delightful perspective pieces, this one from Vanity Fair’s Josh Duboff: “Magnificent Hair and Hushed Tones: What I Learned Trailing Kate Middleton Three Days“. In the story Mr. Duboff shares five takeaways that stand out the most; one of them involves the Kate Effect:
The “Kate Effect” is real.
You read all the time about Kate Middleton’s clothes selling out immediately after she is photographed wearing them, but . . . I was shocked at just how real this “Kate Middleton Effect” seems to be. Just in my section alone at the Nets-Cavaliers game, I met a woman wearing the exact same blue-and-white LK Bennett dress Kate wore in Australia, and also one in a Breton-style top and blue blazer (the de facto Duchess “casual uniform”) who said, “People tell me all the time I dress just like Kate.” Almost every other Kate fan claimed to closely follow her fashions and many said they had purchased at least one item inspired by Kate.
There is a another takeaway from Mr. Duboff many will appreciate, it involves Kate’s ponytail. Click here to see the entire VF story.
Our final little snippet also has an insider’s perspective, it was penned by WQXR’s general manager, Graham Parker. Mr. Parker attended the GREAT reception with William and Kate and his story offers a fun approach, it is titled “That’s Me in the Corner, Talking to Kate Middleton“.
All we were told was time and date. No place. Security, you know.
Curiously, the invitation listed a dress code. And it was what the dress code said that made my stiff upper lip snarl. “Business Casual.” What? Cognitive dissonance. Royal, “In the Presence of,” and Business Casual just don’t coexist in my rules.
To see the entire story Mr. Parker’s attendance at the GREAT reception, and learn what Kate asked him, click here.
The trip seemed more-than-successful, the amount of money raised for the cause William and Kate support is said to have surpassed expectations. My guess is that New York City would love seeing the couple come for another visit.
- There is a wonderful 3-minute video from the Saint Andrews fundraiser you can watch here
- the University of Saint Andrews 600th Anniversary Facebook page has a wonderful photo album with images from the Met Benefit
- Vanity Fair’s slide show of the visit is here
- Hello!’s Top Ten NYC Moments are here, a list of all stories from the visit is here
- the NY Post: Kate Middleton’s complete NYC wardrobe and where to get it
- Jezebel offers Will & Kate From the Cheap Seats: 48 Hours Tailing the Royals
- The Fug Girls have some fab notes on the visit
- Mark Phillips of CBS did a story titled Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Attract Royal Watchers