It’s a case of Kate 2.0 as the Duchess of Cambridge undergoes a style evolution and embraces a sleeker style for royal engagements.
Fashion commentators have noted in recent months that the wardrobe of Kate Middleton has undergone a subtle style revolution, with most of the recognition going to her secret weapon: Virginia “Ginnie” Chadwyck-Healey.
With Middleton’s usual “wardrobe advisor”, Natasha Archer, currently on maternity leave, Chadwyck-Healey, the former Vogue UK editor and former classmate of the duchess has taken up the reigns on the royal wardrobe, changing Kate’s usual fashion formula.
Kate’s sartorially safe style had been replaced by some daring moments.
Notably, Middleton has ditched her trademark LK Bennet beige pumps for more sophisticated stiletto styles; swapped knee length hemlines for billowing wide leg trousers and traded matronly coats in favour of chic tailored jackets.
Kate Middleton has always been incredibly well put together, but as of late, we’ve seen her really up the ante in the style stakes,” says Melbourne stylist to the stars and royal fashion aficionado Lana Wilkinson.
“While Kate had previously worn the Stella McCartney outfit that she was photographed in at Archie’s christening, it was still a mark of her style resurgence,” she says.
While Kate has always caused fashionable meltdowns among the K-Middy fan club, in recent months the pendulum has swung to make this stylish royal more taste-maker than fashion follower.
Wilkinson says the caped cornflower blue Mulberry coat worn in Belfast and the pink Gucci ball gown were the first fashion markers of Middleton — once famed for occupying the tricky territory between accessible and aspirational by recycling outfits and pairing high end designer brands with high street bargains — was now starting fashion movements with her refined style.
The Gucci wide leg trousers and purple pussy bow blouse worn to an engagement in March caused a particular stir, with the Duchess appearing to wear the blouse back-to-front, according to a photo of the purple silk top on online boutique Net-a-Porter.
Wilkinson adds that while Middleton has long set the standard for the most stylish fascinators, perchers, hats and pillbox toppers, the royal has since begun experimenting with a new millinery signature: the hatband, a modern hybrid between a hat and a headband.
The padded silk satin headband or “hatband”, is certainly a key trend this season thanks to Kate with the padded accessories suddenly ubiquitous, with everyone from Prada to Asos championing them as a must-have trend,” she says.
While some fashion watchers have questioned whether Kate has upped her fashion game in response to a style war with sister-in-law Meghan Markle, Wilkinson says it’s more likely that Middleton has relaxed into her role as future Queen.
While it is possible Meghan has always felt more fashion freedoms as the partner of the spare, rather than the heir in a family that demands a decent dose of modesty and conservativeness, Kate is beginning to bring a freshness to her fashion looks while still adhering to the strict dress rules for royal duty,” she says.
Wilkinson says fashion and royal fans alike need to stop comparing Kate and Meghan and dismissed rumours of a couture catfight between the two.
“I think both ladies have their own unique style, so it’s always intriguing to see how they interpret different events and dress codes,” she says.
I think Megan tends to be more laid-back in her approach to style; she likes to make a statement with her clothing, from conscious, ethical clothing to feminism.”
“Kate is a little bit more conservative, which more than anything, is likely to be a reflection of their differing roles within the Royal family.”
But Wilkinson says that Kate’s style evolution can be compared to that of another royal.
“Princess Diana also famously underwent something of a fashion coming-of-age, evolving from shy Di to one of the best-dressed women in the world,” she says.
“Diana only cemented her position as a modern day style icon when she found this signature look and began to set trends rather than follow them, and right now, Kate is on the same trajectory.”