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Kate In Retro-Inspired Skirt Suit by Eponine London for Teen Mentoring Engagement

For today’s engagement with urban youth charity XL Mentoring the Duchess wore a design by a label new to her wardrobe, Eponine London.©Jeff Moore / Splash News

XL Mentoring works with vulnerable young people ages 11-18. Today William and Kate listened as young people shared stories of dealing with homelessness, violence on many levels (gang involvement, knife crimes), and issues with family.Kensington Palace Twitter (@KensingtonRoyal)

Many of the stories were harrowing. From Richard Palmer’s story in The Express:

They also‎ heard Sefton Henry, 27, from Greenwich, south east London, describe his life of crime and homelessness before meeting one of the charity’s mentors and turning things around. He now trains Scotland Yard police officers and others on dealing with gangs.

“I’m an ex-gang member. I spent, like 19 years or 18 years in it,” he said, describing his time sleeping on other people’s sofas.

“I have been in prison seven different times. I’ve been shot at. I’ve been stabbed. I’ve been bricked, I’ve been bottled, I’ve been run over.”

Below, XL Mentoring founder Patrick Regan, OBE.

Victoria Murphy, The Mirror (@QueenVicMirror)

Victoria Murphy, The Mirror (@QueenVicMirror)

The Duke and Duchess also heard success stories from those who have been mentored by XLP.©Frank Augstein/WPA Rota/Nunn Syndication/Polaris

Victoria Murphy’s story in The Mirror quotes founder Patrick Regan:

Patrick said about William and Kate: “I know that the Duke and Duchess are very keen to try and understand what the issues are, I know they are very interested in issues around young people’s mental health.

“It’s really important that the future King has an understanding of what life is really like for a lot of young people today.”

The couple’s first engagement with XL Mentoring was in March of last year.

There was also levity at today’s function. More from The Telegraph:

…founder and chief executive officer Patrick Regan told the audience how the Cambridges had visited some of the charity’s projects last year and saw the organisation’s mobile recording studio set-up in a former police van.

The van was featured on the MTV show Pimp My Ride in 2008 and was transformed into the studio, proving a popular attraction with young people.

When the charity’s founder asked “anyone seen the programme Pimp My Ride?” there was laughter and a number of people put their hands up, as did William who chuckled.

Frank Augstein/WPA Rota/Nunn Syndication/Polaris

Now to what Kate wore for today’s engagement, a skirt suit by Eponine London. The label was founded by designer Jet Shenkman, originally a personal stylist who launched the company because of her love for designs from the 50s and 60s.©Stephen Lock / i-Images

Kate’s A-line skirt features box pleats and side tabs; the top showcases a boat neck with belt detail at the front.©Splash News

The suit is shown on Eponine London’s website.Eponine London

The checkered fabric is a cotton/viscose blend. (But if you would like the suit in another material it’s not a problem, as Eponine offers customers the choice of a variety of couture fabrics for its designs.) Emma Spedding has a wonderful Telegraph Fashion piece about Eponine and Kate’s suit.

“For me that was a real representation of the 60s mod era,” Shenkman says of the inspiration behind the suit. “One of the details you probably can’t see on the photographs is it’s got a silver-coloured, sort of, crocodile trim both on the yolk and the insides of the little belts.

Eponine London via The Telegraph

Eponine London via The Telegraph

The suit retails at £1200, about $1700. A closer look at design details.

©i-Images/Splash News

©i-Images/Splash News

The brand was founded in 2012. If you are wondering about the origins of the company’s name, this profile of Ms. Shenkman in Country and Town House has an explanation.

My family is obsessed with Les Misérables, the musical, and our favourite character is Eponine. She is a lively tomboy, full of courage and determination. My children insisted we’d call my new adventure after her. 

The spring/summer color palette is described as being focused on “….bright clashing colours; red, orange and pinks as well as prints and textures.” The handmade trims used in the s/s line have been sourced from the Hmong Hill tribe in Chiang Mai, where Ms. Shenkman has traveled.

It’s delightful seeing the Duchess in a new British label, especially one with such a distinctive design aesthetic. Below, two s/s designs and a piece from the a/w 2015 collection (the blue in the center).

Eponine London

Eponine London

The company uses textiles from a UK-based mill. For those of us fond of mid-century fashion silhouettes, textiles and embellishments it’s a treat to learn about the brand. Any of the brand’s pieces can be tailored to a client’s wishes. And while some designs are available for ordering online, Ms. Shenkman prefers the made-to-order end of the business. Back to The Telegraph story:

…the main focus for her label is made-to-measure custom pieces. “I like that with each client you get that very individual collaboration. What we do is pretty unique and every woman is given a lot of attention. We take the finished product so seriously, we really do. If it’s not perfect someone has to come back for another fitting,” she says.

Below left, sketches and swatches from last fall’s collection; below right, a classic 1966 Dior suit and hat. Kate’s suit is somewhat reminiscent of the red and white houndstooth look.

Eponine London Instagram

Eponine London Instagram

There were comments today referencing a similarity between Kate’s look and styles worn by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. While this is true, comparisons can be made to many fashionable women sporting timeless mid-century designs. They were, and remain, outstanding styles. 

The Duchess accessorized with her Gianvito Rossi Suede Pumps ($670).©Jeff Moore/Splash News

The shoes have a pointed toe and 4″ heel.

My Theresa

My Theresa

She carried her Muse clutch by Stuart Weitzman for Russell and Bromley. Kate also wore her Kiki McDonough pink morganite earrings.©James Whatling/Splash News

And a final look, Kate is chatting with Mr. Regan as she leaves today’s engagement.©Splash News


Also today, another engagement has been added to Kate’s Calendar:

  • Friday, March 18 the Duchess will do her first public engagement for EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices) in more than a year, officially opening the new EACH store in Holt. This will bring the number of EACH retail locations throughout the East Anglia area to 20. The shops offer everything from clothing and accessories to tools and books, all donated to the charity. Last year the stores generated £700,00 for EACH. For a list of all store locations click here. Next Friday Kate will tour the new shop, meet volunteers and staff, as well as spending time with families and EACH supporters. The Duchess has been patron of EACH since January 2012.

The updated Calendar reflects the removal of our reference to Kate’s hoped-for appearance at the Irish Guards on St. Patrick’s Day. Today the Palace confirmed William will be solo at that engagement this year.


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The Way We Were

Wednesday 16th of March 2016

I can't get enough gingham...I love the material and color of this suit (as far as I can tell from my computer screen). However, I don't think it's the best fit for the Duchess. She seems always having trouble with skirt suits, particularly on top...It would be more retro and interesting if this was a one piece and straighter cut.


Tuesday 15th of March 2016

Wow. She looks Jackie O. You can't take your eyes off her. She looks young and very well put together. More of this please


Monday 14th of March 2016

It's fun and it's different-yeah!! And she looks better than the model in it- double yeah for her. As I always feel the shoes are a disappointment. And the earrings are so wrong- why not her pearl drops or a something gold with some weight to go with the heaviness of the fabric.


Monday 14th of March 2016

I love the silhouette, but the fabric pattern reminds me too much of a picnic tablecloth. Not my favourite look on her!


Monday 14th of March 2016

I LOVE this! I feel like maybe Kate favors the color red? This more muted red looks really nice; she looks put together but young and fun and yet she isn't screaming 'look at me" like that bright red coat she has (ugh). I miss the shorter hair! But her hair does look nice this way, too.

Some have mentioned the shoes. Yeah, she could have gone with something more fun but this is Kate. She tends to favor safe choices for better or worse. These heels are fine. Not amazing but fine. The outfit is amazing which is enough for me!

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