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Day 2: Vancouver in Tiered Alexander McQueen

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Today was the first full day on tour for the Cambridges. This morning, the two began at the harbour where they were due to take a float plane from Victoria to Vancouver. Many were expecting the Duchess to dress down for the day's engagements, which included a visit to the Canadian Coast Guard, so it was with surprise that we greeted the Duchess dressed in a busy, red and white dress from Alexander McQueen.

I frankly want to get to the fashion, but let's zip through the day's activities before we do. After the couple landed at the dock, they made their way to Jack Poole Plaza to greet throngs of fans, some of whom had been waiting since 3am. This photo below might be my favorite. Kate looks like a billion bucks and we see Mr. Security and Rebecca Deacon on the left. It's a great shot.

The first charity on the line-up was Sheway, an outreach program for pregnant women and mothers battling addictions.

The program runs in one of Canada's poorest communities, an area plagued by sex trafficking and drug use. It offers an alternative to despair and provides support to women struggling to overcome addiction for themselves and their children. Certainly an initiative right up Kate's alley. 

Kate looks at babies with such genuine warmth and love. Can I get a vote that this woman should have a few more? Thank you. Resolution passed. 

The next stop was probably the most "politically charged" the couple has ever undertaken. They were joined by the Prime Minister and his wife for a visit to an immigration centre, which helps immigrants coming to Canada integrate into the community, find ESL courses, etc. What made the stop controversial was the focus on the centre's recent handling of some of the 30,000 Syrian refugees that Canada has accepted.

Crown in Canada

It's a very divisive topic, both in Canada and the United States, where the concerns over terrorism are growing stronger by the day. Many point to Germany, which has accepted 800,000 refugees, with some claiming the real number is over a million. Some regional experts have estimated that 2% of refugees are terrorists, which doesn't sound like that many until you do the math and realize that is 16,000 terrorists. That's...a lot terrorists on the loose. It's a debate to which I was surprised William and Kate opened the door, even if they didn't take a side. But, on reflection, perhaps it is a discussion that should seep across the walls we put up to political discussion. The outcome will, after all, shape the world for several generations. We should all be engaged in researching and debating the facts and figures. Certainly, we should not close our eyes to the crisis in the Middle East, either. I pray every day for the children of Syria who have only ever known war. My Twitter feed is full of videos and images of death, destruction, and torture. Children pulled from Aleppo's rubble, families torn apart and murdered on the plains of Nineveh, unspeakable acts of abuse and is overwhelming.  The plights of the people, and particularly the Christian and Yazidi minorities, have been a burden on my heart since this terrible mess started. As North Americans and Europeans, we should (maybe not in the blog section here ;)) discuss this with friends and with family, in a respectful and rational manner.

I know that this stop had political tones, and that some are understandably upset. But, since the royals introduced the topic, we should take it as an opportunity to understand the situation so that we don't continue to ignore the pain that is ongoing in the Middle East and the duty we owe to our fellow humans in crisis, nor the duty we owe to our own families to make sure that the Bataclan is never repeated. That we never have to fear a Sydney Cafe Crisis. A San Bernadino...the next wave of destruction on our homelands. We have to find a solution that stabilizes the Middle East and the lives of these people, while also maintaining the security of our own nations. I don't think there is an obvious or easy answer. These are just the dark and worrisome issues that I write this blog to escape, even if for a few hours, and introduces just the kind of tension that I do no welcome on the blog. I thought some while about including these few, brief thoughts, and chose to because the Cambridges "started it," and because the crisis in the Middle East, and those people, matter very much to me, as does the security and stability of my own homeland and my own loved ones. Hopefully, this will spark dialogue in places I may never know, but the fruits of which will impact us all for the better. Trying to transition from the very sobering to the lighter topics...

A reception for future leaders in the community was next on the schedule. William and Kate mixed with young people from the Vancouver and surrounding areas, as well as welcoming athletes who have recently returned from Rio:

Finally, they made a stop at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station before calling it a day.

At last, let's talk fashion. This dress is a bespoke version of a dress in McQueen's Resort 2017 collection. Below shown in red and in a black & white image. Kate's customization tones it down a little, but not that much. 

In an interview with Sarah Burton about the Resort collection, Vogue Runway reported:
What are these flowers, printed? “No, no,” Sarah Burton hastened to explain as she held out the flounce on a tiny ruffled dance dress for closer inspection. “Each one is hand-painted, and you see, it’s on leather.” Such is the extraordinary sophistication of handwork that Burton puts into her collections that its wonders are only truly read close up. The mixtures of carnations, yellow roses, peonies, and poppies, each petal expertly defined with an artist’s paintbrush, were inspired, she said, by British folk art and domestic interiors: “Wallpaper, patterns you see on canal barges.”
This detail is apparent on this dress, and one fun example is the buttons. They have delicate, painted flowers on them!

It is safe to say that the reaction from fans to this dress was electric. Not only is it an eye-watering $5,000, but it is neither conservative nor demure. White with red embroidery, the dress features a flirty, short skirt and unusual buttoned collar. Kate didn't try to downplay the effect, either, by pairing it with her preferred nude accessories. Instead, she opted to highlight the va va voom with bright heels and a Miu Miu clutch in matching crimson. This entire ensemble really reminded me of another famous queen of fashion, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. This is just the sort of ensemble she would wear.

My only criticism of this dress is the studs along the collar. That's a fashion statement I just can't get behind; it is a bridge too far. In every other respect, I love, love, love this dress. I love the flouncy two-tiered skirt. I love the short hem that highlights her killer legs. I love that she paired it with red accessories. I like that she made a really bold choice, which is what so many have been urging for so long. Not for the first time, she owned her princess status with this dress. It is a real home run for me.

One of my fabulous readers, Haley Hooyenga was at Jack Poole Plaza this morning and rubbed shoulders with royalty! I forgot to ask her how Kate was in the flesh. Most people say she is even more radiant and beautiful than in pictures. Feel free to weigh in, Haley, and congrats on what must have been such a memorable day!

Don't forget to follow the tour on my Kate's Clothes Instagram. I check-in by video on the Stories feature at least once a day, hopefully more this week. You can find the fun on Instagram Stories here. Oh, and I think you can only see Stories on mobile, just FYI. 

Day 1: The Cambridges Arrive in Victoria, British Columbia

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Victoria, British Columbia today ahead of their 4pm arrival time. To me, the first deplaning of a royal tour is always the most exciting moment, and this tour carried its own special anticipation, because it is the first with both of the Cambridge children. Apparently, even when you fly private, though, you have to wait for the jet-bridge (or in this case the stairwell) just like the rest of us. 

Waiting at the foot of the stairs to meet the royal quartet was the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and his wife, as well as other dignitaries. As the plane taxied into position, there was little sign of life within the cabin. Most of the shutters were pulled, but one was up, and a still chubby-cheeked and inquisitive little face was peering out:

The Mirror

According to Rebecca English, Kate told fans that both George and Charlotte were incredibly excited for their trip in the airplane today. Charlotte, too, was at a window at one point, getting a preview of the royal welcome she was about to receive for the first, but certainly not the last, time. 

When we first met George on tour, he delighted the world with his hilarious and extremely unimpressed faces. Now as a precocious three year old, he approaches his royal duties with no less ennui and just as much charm. George was entirely unfazed by the noisy tarmac or waiting dignitaries, and instead was distracted by the helicopters that landed on the field behind the plane and the clicking photographers.

Canadian PM Twitter
Kate manages to make the classic mom pose entirely glamorous here:

via Kensington Palace Twitter

I know many were excited to see the kids, and I am looking forward to "getting to know" Charlotte's personality a little better. She remains a bit of an enigma to me right now.

Most of all, though, I was excited to see Kate and she did not disappoint. I don't think that Kate has ever missed on an opening performance. I ran a poll today on the Kate's Clothes' Twitter asking what color Kate would wear. Red got a lot of votes, but I agreed with the minority that the color would be blue.

This shade of blue, though, was just right, not too bright and oozing sophistication. It coordinated well with George's mix of lighter and darker blues, and Charlotte's white and blue printed dress and complementing accessories.

The Cambridges moved from the airport to Government House where they settled Prince George and Princess Charlotte before heading to the official welcome ceremony. The couple were at least half an hour late, which highlights the added logistics of traveling with children. I am sure they made sure that Prince George and Princess Charlotte, jet lagged and an ocean away from familiar surroundings, were acclimated and calm before they slipped away. Upon arrival at the Parliament Building, the couple paid their respects at Victoria's Cenotaph:

The Crown in Canada
The welcome ceremony included a number of brief addresses. My favorite was William's thank-you/hello speech which inlduded the obligatory (but no less welcome) part in French.

The Duke's accent leaves much to be desired, but he knows it and acknowledges it, which somehow makes it ok. Kate's laughter and blushes made the entire performance the first of many sweet couple moments we are sure to have in the next six days.

William and Kate conducted a thorough walk-about down the red carpet, greeting the eager fans who had gathered to wish the two well.

PM In Canada

This gave our favorite Mr. Security a chance to shine. The Canadians seemed a pretty polite crowd and we didn't see any of the rowdy action that he had to address Down Under. No offense to my Australian fans--you all are just a more effusive crowd. ;)

Although at the conclusion of the walkabout the couple were done with public events, but they had two "private" meetings before they could call it a night. They met with the PM and his wife, and with the Governor General, David Johnston, and his wife.

David Johnston Twitter

Let's talk fashion. This dress is absolutely stunning. It is a custom piece by Kate's favorite evening designer Jenny Packham, which really, really surprised me. The tailoring is very much in keeping with McQueen and the design closely tracks the grey sheath dress that the Duchess wore in Canada in 2011.

Below you can see the evening gown that Kate has worn, by McQueen, and the coat dress from her visit to Belgium, also McQueen, both feature the pleated sleeve that today's dress sported. On the right is the grey Catherine Walker, the back of which, is very much like the back of today's dress. 

I was also surprised that today's dress was Packham because Jenny P isn't usually tapped for these big ticket day-time events. She reigns supreme for evening apparel and certainly has her fair share of daytime appearances, but usually secondary ones. Below, are the three general categories of events for which Jenny P designs. (1) Evening wear. The label absolutely rules Kate's wardrobe in this department. (2) Secondary daytime appearances, almost universally on tour. (3) Occasional high-profile family events, including both the Lindo Wing appearances. 

[Update] A reader has pointed out that Kate wore Jenny Packham as her first ensemble during the SouthEast Asia tour in 2012. I overlooked this dress (you can see it here) possibly because there was no deplaning, as we have seen on most tours. Despite the fact that there was no deplaning, an opening ensemble is an opening ensemble.  Short story--Jenny Packham has stepped into a new category with this Canadian arrival. I think that Kate's relationship with Packham has really grown, particularly as the designer has dressed the princess through two pregnancies now. Kate's reliance on Jenny's artistic sensibilities and discretion will continue to fuel this star's popularity in Kate's closet.

Kate's hat was immediately familiar, albeit in a new shade. I think Kate must have gone to Sylvia Fletcher at Lock & Co. and said, I want that in blue...and with maple leaves. Sylvia of course said, right on it Your Royal Highness, and today's hat was born. If you don't remember today's hat's older sister, it was the red topper the Duchess wore to the Thames over Pageant in 2012.

Up to this point, Kate was wearing new pieces with a twist, but all her accessories were recycles. I thought her choice of earrings was particularly appropriate.  These are the tanzanite pear-shaped earrings from G. Collins & Sons. We first saw them when Kate wore them to the Afghanistan Service at St. Paul's in 2015. She wore them again for a private party with the Obamas at KP earlier this year. They may not be to everyone's taste, but these are really stunning sparklers, and as I opined at the time she debuted them, they are part of her growing, personal collection of heirloom pieces. As such, they were eminently appropriate for this historic arrival on her second tour of Canada.

The shoes are her Gianvito Rossi Signature 105 pumps in Praline and she carried her new favorite clutch, L.K. Bennett's Nina in trench. There was one final piece to her ensemble, and that was the diamond studded maple leaf brooch that she has on loan from the Queen. Kate wore this brooch during the tour in 2011, but against this blue dress, it has never looked better on her. That is, when Charlotte wasn't grabbing a handful of it:

Although so many parts of this dress seemed to be outside of Packham's usual profile, the one thing that fit her bill to perfection was the the fabric. Jenny Packham works with light and delicate materials, more so than most of Kate's other designers, and today's dress had her special, soft movement. This is a huge win for me, and I suspect it was an absolute hit with the majority of fans. She was remarkably stunning, even for the always beautiful Duchess of Cambridge. The tour is off to a successful start.

Before I sign off, today was a first for Jenny P, and it was also a first for me. I am covering this tour over on Kate's Clothes Instagram Stories. Hope you pop over and join the fun.

Live Blog: Duchess Kate is in Blue for Canada Arrival

Watch the upcoming official welcome ceremony at CTV News here

Kate is in an absolutely stunning blue dress and hat by Lock & Co. for her arrival at the airport in Victoria today!

Kate's hat is almost identical to the red hat she wore to the Thames River Pageant in 2012, also by Lock & Co.

The family have been taken by motorcade to Government House, where the children will stay before William and Kate head to the official welcoming ceremony.

Watch Royal Arrival in Canada Live