The Duchess wore a new Ralph Lauren blouse for a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London this morning.
She was at the museum to see a new exhibit, Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution. Some readers will recall she became the museum’s first Royal Patron in March 2018.
The exhibit opened in mid-November.
It features more than 200 items.
We learn more in this ArtNet article.
…the show focuses on the man behind the jewelry brand, its almost synonymous association with Russian elegance and the Imperial family, and the Anglo-Russian bond forged in part by Fabergé works. The Romanovs, Russia’s ruling family, were important patrons of Fabergé, and helped cement his role in high society as the official goldsmith to the Imperial court. His custom-made gifts, made from crystal, gold, rose-cut diamonds, often incorporated miniature portraits of family members and were exchanged between relatives.
A news release notes, “The exhibition features the largest display of his legendary Imperial Easter Eggs in a generation, several of which are being shown in the UK for the first time.”
More on Fabergé’s expansion from this New York Times piece.
The constant flow through Russia of the moneyed elite from Europe and the United States — including the financier John Pierpont Morgan and the heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt, who was the Duchess of Marlborough — and the acclaim that the house received at the 1900 Paris Exposition convinced Fabergé’s son, Peter Carl, that the house could expand beyond Russia.
Fabergé opened in London in 1903, which would prove to be the house’s only shop outside of Russia (it closed in 1917 when the Russian Revolution shuttered the house’s workrooms).
The exhibit also features three items on loan from the Queen, including the Colonnade Egg (L), which the Royal Collection Trust reports was “Confiscated and sold following the Revolution, the egg itself was eventually bought by Queen Mary as a gift for King George V, in 1931.” The RCT notes that Tsar Nicholas II commissioned the Basket of Flowers Egg (R) as an Easter present for Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna in 1901; it is made of silver, gold, guilloché enamel, and diamonds.
The third item on loan from HM, the Mosaic Egg, crafted in gold, platinum, and enamel, with rose and brilliant diamonds, rubies, emeralds, topaz, quartz, sapphires, garnets, and moonstone.
The Royal Collection Trust notes: “In the 1930s, King George V (1865-1936) and Queen Mary (1867-1953) purchased the three Imperial Easter Eggs in the Collection – the Basket of Flowers Egg, the Colonnade Egg Clock, and the Mosaic Egg.”
As The Evening Standard points out in this story, there is much more to see beyond the 15 eggs.
15 of these incredible objects – the largest collection to go on display together in a generation, many of which have never been seen in Britain before – sit in imperial glory in the final room of this glittering exhibition. They’re worth the wait, but it’s what comes before – a neatly put-together show that highlights not just Peter Carl Fabergé’s glorious creative vision but also the genuinely stratospheric heights to which his artists and artisans rose in the pursuit of beauty – that actually blows your mind.
One of those items is this Art Nouveau cigarette case given to Edward VII by his mistress Alice Keppel. The Royal Collection Trust notes it is “dark blue moiré guilloché enamel, the whole box encircled by the serpent of pale green-gold with scales formed by rose diamonds, edge banded in plain gold mounts, thumb-piece of rose diamond set in gold.”
Another view of the Duchess at the exhibition today.
The Independent’s story offers this perspective on the Duchess’s reaction to the exhibit.
The duchess was accompanied on her tour, which lasted just under an hour, by V&A director Tristram Hunt and shown around by curator Kieran McCarthy. Speaking after the visit, Mr McCarthy said Kate had been “fascinated by the whole subject”.
The duchess, who is known to be a keen photographer, showed her clear eye for detail, he added. “That came through over and over again, just ‘How did they do that? Why does that look like that?’
“There was a lot of why and wherefore in the discussion, which was very interesting because it takes a sophistication to look beyond seeing the spectacle to actually probe into the details, and that was there.”
We return to The New York Times article.
Exhibits also will include some pieces that the London store sold with the local clientele in mind, like hard stone boxes decorated with enameled scenes of British landmarks, and several animal statuettes, including representations of Edward VII’s favorite wire fox terrier, Caesar, carved in chalcedony, and his prized racehorse Persimmon, cast in silver.
The Bond Street premises closed in 1917 (a poignant letter of account to Leopold de Rothschild indicates a vain hope, at that point, that war wouldn’t last too long); the Bolsheviks eliminated the entire business in 1918, selling much of what was left behind to finance the revolution, and Fabergé fled Russia soon after. He died in 1920 in Switzerland, broken-hearted.
Now for our look at what Kate wore for today’s engagement.
She was in the Lauren Ralph Lauren Paisley Blouse ($135). The lightweight georgette shirt features a banded collar with self-tie, buttoned barrel cuffs, shirring at the yoke and cuffs, and a button front. It is 100% polyester and machine washable.
The blouse is available in sizes S-XL ($135) at Dillard’s; in sizes XS – XXL ($135) at Bloomingdale’s; it is offered in sizes 1X – 3X at Ralph Lauren ($145); and in petite sizes at Ralph Lauren ($135). Thank you to Heaven for her blouse ID.
From watching video of the visit, it looks like the Duchess wore her Jigsaw navy wide-leg trousers.
And the longtime UFO navy croc-pattern belt with goldtone hardware.
Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she wore a new pair of earrings. I haven’t yet looked for these but will start the search later this afternoon and update the post with any new information.
UPDATE: With thanks to Margot for her comment sharing the ID, it looks like the earrings are by Sézane, the Bruna style ($60, now sold out).
The earrings are gold-plated with hand-set glass stones. Thank you, Margot!
The Duchess wore navy point-toe heels that *might* be her Emmy Josie pair, but there aren’t enough photos to verify that is the case.
The Royal Family Channel offers about 3 minutes of coverage in this piece.
- Learn more about the exhibit at the V&A site; visit the museum’s main site here; its Facebook page is here, its Twitter feed here, and Instagram page here.
- Visit the RCT’s pages on Fabergé in the Royal Collection here; watch a 5-minute video about Fabergé pieces in the Collection on this page.
- Visit the Fabergé site, and take a peek at the Imperial Eggs.