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Duchess Kate in Marchesa Notte at Drury Lane

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kate arrived tonight at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane dressed to impress in a scarlet midi dress by Marchesa Notte. The Duchess of Cambridge was out to watch the London revival of New York's classic 42nd Street in Drury Lane on behalf of EACH, which was benefiting the Nook Appeal this opening night. 


Kate has been patron of EACH since 2012, it was one of her first patronages. The Nook Appeal is the capital campaign Kate launched in 2014 while pregnant with Charlotte and again promoted last summer with an exclusive house party at Houghton Hall.


In this picture of Kate arriving, you can see that across the street the sign says Nell of Old Drury. That's a pub, but it is a reference to Nell Gwyn who was a very famous mistress of Charles II. 

42nd Street London

Nell's origins are disputed, but many believe she was born and raised in the Drury Lane area where her mother ran a brothel. When Charles II came to the throne, theatre had been banned for some time as a frivolous pastime, but the king restored it. Charles authorized two different acting companies, one of which became the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. Nell worked at the Theatre where she became a member of the troupe. From there she mingled with society's upper echelons, ran through a series of affairs, and ultimately ended with the king. So, the theatre has a bit of royal history to it. :) Anyway, Nell of Old Drury, the pub not the prostitute, had a great view of all the excitement and shared some candid snaps:

Nell of Old Drury Pub
That's a lot of photographers. 


The princess met Ollie Duell, who has benefitted from EACH's care. He said he was proud to give "Kate Middleton" her program. So, I guess Kate is still Kate Middleton around London town.


I have noticed in the past few events that Kate has been accompanied by Sophie Agnew, of course, but also by Miguel Head, William's private secretary. You can see them both here kibitzing behind Kate in the Royal Box. Next to them, on our right, is one of Kate's primary PPOs. He is obviously on his phone, probably checking the blog wondering when I am going to give him a nickname and an identity for the FBTB community.


This preview of the show demonstrates what a toe-tapping night it must have been for all present:



42nd Street is a major American musical, as probably every educated reader knows, and was made into a movie in the 1930s. Eight year old Jane danced to Lullaby of Broadway in grade school ballet & tap class. I hope Kate gets Charlotte into ballet and tap, too, as soon as she is old enough! 

KP
Speaking of tap shoes....As patron of EACH on this fundraising night, Kate took to the stage where she was presented with a pair of tap shoes of her own! 


Let's talk about the fashion. The Duchess debuted a new dress and a new label to her closet in this claret cocktail dress by  Marchesa Notte. It took me a while to decide if it was conservative and edgy. It is, after all, a little sheer in places. When Kate got out of the car, we got a most definite limb line. 



Part of the problem in deciding what was up with this dress was this bizarre photo confusion. There are two different product shots of this dress circling the inter-web. This first composite features a more exposed and obvious corset-bodice and an only barely finished hem. It kind of looks like someone grabbed a fishing net and made it into a skirt... 



This second product shot, which looks like Kate's tonight, features a more subtle bodice and smoother and more polished skirt, a thick, reinforced hem, which several retailers have described as an element that keeps the full volume of the skirt on display. 



So, I don't know why there is an inconsistency. There are retailers selling both styles, so it isn't just that Marchesa toned down the dress when they moved it from the runway to the retailer. Mystère et boule de gomme. 



In any event, tonight's style is one Kate has really favored recently. It is right in line with her very popular Preen cocktail dress. Of course where the Preen modernized and streamlined the 40's silhouette, tonight's Marchesa didn't hold back.



It's like Kate finished binge watching The Crown and said to Natasha Archer, "Get me that look." (Artistic license--I think Kate does most of her shopping herself.)



Kate was on a roll tonight, also debuting Kate Spade tassel earrings. Although she has been relatively subdued with her earrings over the past five years, Kate favored all manner of busy and over-sized pieces before her marriage. These tassels kind of look like she snatched them from a lamp in the State Apartments. They also remind me of something Scarlett O'Hara might have worn to meet Rhett at the Yankee jail or possibly something Judith would have chosen for her little rendezvous with Holofernes. Point--these are decadent and made to make a statement. They worked tonight at the storied Drury Lane, and for the occasional pop of personality, I'm up for them. But I wouldn't want them to catch on too much.


The Duchess finished off her look with her Mulberry Bayswater and her Gianvito Rossi pumps, both in burgundy. I don't know how this is going to fly with my caucus of readers opposed to red and burgundy mixing, but.. I know you will weigh in. ;) 



What is the verdict? Obviously a win. I liked every aspect of this ensemble, not the least of which is the simple fact that Kate debuted another designer label. In May of last year I wrote this detailed analysis of Kate's evolving style. I hypothesized that Kate turned a corner after Charlotte's birth and that we were in for a lot more designer debuts:
When Kate returned to the scene in September of 2015 we saw what was perhaps the most important shift to-date. It was not so much a style shift as a change in her approach. Kate's (real) first week back saw her debut a succession of new pieces in very short order. Her dress from The Fold for a visit to HMP Send was the moment she truly tipped us off that there was a new modus operandi. Kate was looking beyond her usual go-to labels, in greater quantity, and in a far shorter timeframe than ever before...I think the moment I knew for certain this was a new era was when Kate wore the floral Erdem to the Hundred Women in Hedge Funds gala. It was designer, it was loud and bold, it was a risk.
We have seen that develop and play out over the past year. From new styles to new labels, Kate is branching out. I really loved the honeycomb/waffle illusion of tonight's dress, too. Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed by Kate's embellished dresses, but I particularly love this use of tulle to create patterns.

KP

We see Kate tomorrow in a completely different mood and event as she joins Harry and William at Westminster for a Service of Hope in the wake of the horrific attack on Westminster Bridge and Parliament. 

90 comments:

  1. Love the dress, beautiful detail and texture. Think she looked great. I am not a fan of the matchy matchy shoes, bags and big earrings - about time Katie stopped messing around with her jewellery and really embraced diamonds! Also think she would look more sophisticated and 'finished' if her hair was kept under control - there is so much dress and tassel earrings going on that a smoother sleeker hairdo might look better.

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  2. Alejandra RamirezApril 4, 2017 at 10:50 PM

    Great views! I love the dress, the color, the details!
    I gasped when I saw it!

    The earrings are not my liking, but the venue might be the reason why she chose them. :)
    Thank you for your views!

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  3. Loved the earnings!! I was eyeing them earlier today while online shopping, so it was extra fun to see Kate wearing them tonight.

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  4. I thought the clutch and shoes weren't intended to match the dress, but rather the darker red of the belt.

    It certainly was an interesting mix of attire - some guests in jeans and then the duchess in Marchesa. It was right of her to dress up, of course, and it also makes the wackadoo earrings a little easier to understand. (I would love them with a cute summer dress and jean jacket, for example.)

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  5. Kate looks great in this. I would have styled it differently but I always feel that way. A fun pony tail and strappy sandals would have made this outfit a home run. I want to love those earrings, I feel like I should, and yet I just do not. I can't for the life of me think of a vibe that could come from these other than "look at these kooky things in my ears" so I think having them mainly covered by that dazzling hair was the way to go, but overall a win! I truly love Marchesa and Georgina Chapman is amazing so I hope we see more of their designs, including some bespoke pieces for formal events. Give McQueen and JP a little break and let Georgina have a try!

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    1. In my opinion the reason the earrings do not work is because they are inexpensive and look it, you can find similar looks at a much higher price point that look really really good. There are a few items that can be made at a lower price point that you can hardly tell the difference if any from the higher price point item, but to be blunt I have never seen Kate wear any jewelry that did not look like what it cost, either boatloads or not much. I am not saying the earrings are not cute and great they just look like a mass marketed pair of earrings and if she wants that look then spend a few pounds more and have something that looks good now and that you can wear 5 years from now. She just seems to spend lots of money on throw away stuff that does not look good now and that you know will look even worse a year from now.This is where I wonder about her intrinsic sense of style...

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    2. I also wish she'd worn strappy sandals. Her gold jimmy choos and the gold clutch she wore recently with the emerald green Temperley dress would have totally elevated the outfit.

      I am not sure though if she is "allowed" to wear sandals with "shorter" dresses. A long time ago I read somewhere that female royals have to wear tights whenever their legs are visible and that they're not allowed to show off their feet. I can't seem to get this out of my head and the fact that Kate only wears sandals with floor-length dresses that cover her feet has only fuelled my suspicion.

      Has anyone else heard that? Is it total nonsense? I'd be happy to hear opinions and grateful if anyone could enlighten me!

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  6. I love, love, love this dress! I hope the burgundy w/red people aren't disappointed because this dress seemed to trend more toward the burgundy tone. I love the embellishment on the fabric, the tiny sparkle at the waist, and the shape of the dress which is always flattering on HRH. As much as I love this dress I absolutely despise these earrings. I don't know who decided that wearing curtain tassels as jewelry was a good idea or who took the idea and ran with it first but, for me, this look cannot disappear soon enough. Blech! So, as long as her gorgeous hair is down and covering her ears, this look is a total win. Now, take those earrings and pin them back to the bottom of the lamp shade from whence they came.

    I'm with you, Jane. I hope Charlotte is in ballet/tap as soon as she's able. Maybe now that they won't be splitting so much time between Anmer and KP the opportunity will present itself. Granny Diana will be smiling down on every plié, pas de bourrée, and shuffle-ball-change she does.

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    1. I'm a little disappointed that red/burgundy seems to become one of her staple combinations but since the dress itself is on the darker side I'm not bothered AS MUCH. And of course the dress is absolutely gorgeous!

      Unfortunately have to disagree on the earrings, tassled earrings have been in fashion for 2 or 3 seasons and I always love it when Kate picks up on a trend rather than play it safe with the same old, same old.

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    2. Lol. 😃 Robin, that was my very first impression of the earrings and, although they wouldn't be my first choice, I think they work for an evening at the theater. Very Maxima-like.

      I like the dress very much, including the length. But I must admit that I prefer the second version featured here; the extra sheer touch at the bottom is very soft and feminine.

      Perhaps next time we will see it with diamond earrings AND updo with a rosette (or two!) as a nod to the dress. ☺

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    3. Robin, I agree! The dress isn't the red-red she usually pairs with burgundy. I though the colour matching was excellent, and agree it may have been tied to the belt.
      | A

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    4. It wouldn't do to let Queen Margrethe take all the glory. ;+)

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  7. Lovely dress and you are right, it very much resembles the ones that the Queen used to wear in her youth.

    Personally, I completely disagree with all the choices in terms of accessories. They partially ruined the classy feel. The earrings in particular. The shoes she wears are not at all appropriate for the dress, and I don't mean just the clashing colour. That's a court shoe, not an evening one.

    Anyway, happy choice of a dress and overall silhouette. The colour suits her very well indeed.

    Royal fan in Northern Ontario

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    1. I have to agree with you regarding the acessories bringing the dress down. I think I've said it before but when one goes with a retro design, you have to commit for the whole look or it just looks dumpy. Strappy sandals instead of the courts and a better pair of earrings. These earrings ( which look like a cross between curtain ties and retro Christmas decorations btw) are meant to be paired with casual attire not an evening dress.

      Unfortunately, I can't say I like this dress on Kate either. I think its very hard to wear midi length fit and flare dresses especially in a stiff fabric. Kate is tall and is is being overcome by the dress here.

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  8. The dress and detailing are great! But I've always had an issue with red dresses at red carpet events, it all gets a bit too matchy matchy...

    Totally second the tassel earring trend comments. Tassels belong on bags, boots, curtains and furniture and lamps, not so much on ears.

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  9. I love the comparison between the Preens & this Marchesa Notte, I think this silhouette really suits her, even with her height! It definitely reminds me of HM's dresses from the 50s...so classic & youthful at the same time. I wish she would switch up the court shoes for some strappy evening sandals, as others have said. She also needs to ditch the earrings, but in saying that, I could see them paired with a casual outfit & they would look nice.

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  10. Jane, I feel so flattered to be (indirectly) mentioned in the article and of course I need to weigh in just as you predicted! ;) Looooove the dress but, sadly, the burgundy bag and shoes irk me again. Not as much as with the bright red Herrera coat, but still quite lot! Why, Kate?! Side note: Unlike some others who commented above I also love the tassled earrings. I've never been a fan of her boring jewellery and this is a nice change of pace.

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  11. Gorgeous dress! Loved everything except those earrings. Looked like the tassels off the BP curtains!
    She looked beautiful as ever.

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  12. Catherine looked gorgeous, red is a great colour on her and her make up was flawless. Im not a great fan of the "prom look" and think her hair would look better in an up do with this style. Now the earrings!!! seriously she is the future Princess of Wales and Queen, please wear statement jewellery, the Queens vault must be a treasure trove and she must have some jewellery inheireted from Diana, please bring on the bling

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    1. Diamonds and rubies! They're all there and more! Please, Kate, use them!

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    2. I'm wondering if she just doesn't like rubies because there have been so many times that would have been perfect for rubies and she has worn something else instead.

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  13. I love, love this dress and love how Kate is branching out with her designers! I agree that I don't want to see earrings like this all the time but that they work here. What I didn't love was the matching shoes and bag - in the product shots, the dress is styled with open-toed shoes in either black or goldy/white, which would have worked much better. I also think the fabric of this clutch makes it more of a daytime piece. But those are pretty small observations in an otherwise great ensemble :)

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  14. Nope. I hate Marchesa. All of their pieces are fugly, and the designer is married to Harvey Weinstein so gross.

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    1. No. Way. I didn't believe they were married till I googled them...what a strange couple! She's gorgeous...but him...smh.

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    2. He's no more or less disgusting than any other Hollywood nut job. How he attracted her is a mystery.

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    3. Well considering she married him I'm assuming she finds him neither gross nor disgusting. I hope nobody talks about your husbands in that way....

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    4. First, I love, love Marchesa. But not this dress. I was very surprised it was Marchesa.

      Second, yes Harvey is disgusting and I feel bad for her that her husband is such a pig. She doesn't deserve that.

      Third, Anon 2:18, we will talk about Harvey like this because it's the truth. He has been sued many times for sexual harassment and recently a young lady filed a police report accusing him of attacking her in his office during a supposed business meeting. After that event, the lid was blown off and other police reports of attacks were finally revealed. It seems the women received pay-offs and all was quiet again. Georgina was seen in the day or two after this crying at events. Yes, there were pictures. Harvey deserves every bad word said about him. But he doesn't deserve Georgina. Too bad they have kids and he probably backs her company too.

      Men who use the power, money, and influence to terrorize women need to be discussed. And I am betting he uses those same things to control Georgina too. That's how men like that operate.

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    5. I agree Anon 2:40 that it is important to shine light on situations where powerful people use their power to take advantage of and hurt other people. If Harvey is one of those men then discuss away (full disclose I don't follow either him or his wife closely enough to have had any idea that is what you were alluding to). But that's not what you did - you merely called him a name and moved on, so people who can't read your mind didn't get to hear your perspective on his misdeeds. And quite frankly if Georgina is in a position where she is being "controlled" and trying to deal with immense personal pain I am not sure how calling her husband gross and disgusting is supposed to make her feel better or in any way supported.

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    6. One additional point Anon 2:40 is that you are making some significant assumptions about how Geroginas company may be financed or operated when you assume that she cannot possibly stand on her own professionally speaking because he husband *must* be giving her allowance money to make her company viable

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    7. I am Anon 2:40. I am not Leslie, we are different posters.

      Anon 3:20:

      I used the word "betting" when discussing my thoughts about Georgina and Harvey's relationship. I was not making significant assumptions. I know men like Harvey and I know a lot about the finances of fashion houses. It has nothing to do with "allowance money" - oh if it were that simple! These brands need lines of credit and significant backing, on an ongoing basis. "Standing on her on two feet"??? You have no idea of the complex nature of her business, especially as she's married to a billionaire. Georgina is very successful, that doesn't mean she can work without a large finance team behind her.

      Additionally, your attack on my comments and your attack on Leslie's comments are, IMO, out of line. This is a discussion board. We discuss things. You aren't the word police. Back off. You are being rude.

      I do not understand why people on this board can't be grownup and let everyone have their say without someone attacking them??? Differing opinions don't diminish each other, they elevate the conversation.

      I am putting this to bed and won't be commenting on it further.

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    8. Gross? Why Leslie? That sounds a bit prejudiced.

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  15. I wonder the earrings are nod to Chinese? It reminded me of Chinese lucky charms. :D

    Not a fan of the dress though. Structure is very beautiful. But I would prefer some other material/ colour

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  16. She looks amazing!!! I love the classic tea length and the delicate details and soft flair skirt. She looks like the perfectly stylish lady. I do hope this style will catch on and we can get back to that classic Jackie O. designs when ladies looked like proper fashionable ladies ... so classy. Sorry but I am over the trashy trend of many of today's current designers. Yuck! Hoping sophistication and elegance will take hold once again. The Duchess wears this so well! Okay, maybe not the earrings (ha!), but the rest ... incredibly impressive.

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    1. I agree! I'm ready for classic beauty to come back and replace the see-through, bizarre, and downright ugly fashions that have reared their questionable little heads of late.

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  17. This is one of my favorite looks this year! Love the color, love the earrings, and that dress is fun and vibrant! Win!

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  18. There's a fair bit of blending in with the carpet going on - the dress is pretty but there's something about it that's a little off - I think it makes her look like she has a bigger waist than she actually does (which is clearly ridiculous of our super slim duchess). An up do and some diamonds would have made this lovelier and more sophisticated.. the earrings are bizarre, no other description needed!

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  19. Pardon my pointing this out, but EPIC autocorrect fail: on the "thrown"!! Thanks for the great giggle! That said, great dress, great observations, especially with respect to the Scarlet tassle earrings. Loved it all!

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    1. Ha! I don't think that was auto-correct, but thanks. :) I think that was just Jane was tired.

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  20. You always have such good photos. Today I especially enjoyed the clear shot of the earrings unobscured by her hair, the long shots, the back views, the comparisons of the two retail versions of the dress and the close-ups of the details; all of which have led me to conclude that this hairstyle and these earrings are incompatible. And I wish she had not altered the original sleeve design.

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  21. "..probably checking the blog wondering when I am going to give him a nickname and an identity for the FBTB community."

    Love this Jane, and all the light & witty comments made. I really liked the thought of Kate snatching her earrings "from a lamp in the State Apartments" too!

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    1. There was a female PPO outside by the car with her. I have never noticed an RPO sitting in the royal box. Outside by the entrance to the box maybe. I almost missed Sophie with the golden tap shoes in the departure photos. She is so good at fading into the background.

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    2. Oh yes, Sophie is VERY good at fading into the background....

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  22. Jane, can we not call women "prostitutes" on here? I love your page but will stop reading if that becomes the norm.

    "Debate is welcome, direct and personal insults are not"... I'd like to see this be a pro-women space, even for women who died hundreds of years ago because it sets the example for how to treat living women

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    1. What's the pro-woman term we should be using instead? (Bonus points if it still allows for alliteration)

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    2. How about making this a "pro-person space" and call out comments terming other individuals as "gross?"
      That's no way to treat anyone.

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    3. Anon 11:47....get over yourself

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    4. Anon 1:16- Mistress. I'm saying there's no need to tell us historical facts about this lady and then be like "wink wink, but she's trash because she's a prostitute." I'm just asking that Jane be aware that it's sexist to do that and so please treat ALL women with respect.

      Anon 1:41- I'm just asking that Jane treat any woman she talks about with respect. Because it's the right thing to do and also because it's in her own rules of conduct. I hope you have a great evening.

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    5. Anonymous 3:56pm SERIOUSLY????

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    6. Yes, Diamond, what do have against me asking that everyone, including dead mistresses, be treated with respect?

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    7. Anon 11:47/3:56 - she lived in a brothel. Perhaps she was merely a resident and not also an employee but Janes use of the word prostitute was not without context and didn't imply the woman was "trash" nor was the focus of Janes discussion about the woman centered on that aspect of her life. Furthermore the alliteration was a stylistic touch - you are totally blowing one word of the whole post totally out of proportion.

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    8. Oh yes, the word prostitute is definitely a "stylistic touch" and not a way to dismiss women. I'm not saying Jane was consciously trying to dismiss and insult her, but I am saying that that is the result of calling a woman a prostitute, whether that was the intent or not. I'm just asking Jane to be aware of that and not do that on this forum.

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    9. Let me start this by saying, I'm not a historical authority, this is just general knowledge, anyone can feel free to jump in with some facts (perhaps not alternative facts ;) ):

      Historically actors and actresses where relatively low on on the social hierarchy i.e. poor. Wealthy gents who patronized the theatre would also patronize the actresses, a convenient one-stop-shop for all of the evenings revelries.

      The definition of prostitution is the exchange or favors for monetary compensation, it's not disrespectful to use the word when it is fact. There are other synonyms that are much more degrading to women.

      Mistress on the other hand implies a long-term but un-married relationship, often times when the man is married to someone else.

      I'm not familiar with Nell's specific history, but based on the time period it is likely she would have been in this situation (until perhaps becoming a favorite of the King, when "mistress" would be the appropriate word). And, if she was indeed raised in a brothel, it would only strengthen this likelihood.

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    10. The choice to use alliteration is a stylistic touch. And quite frankly if the woman was a prostitute and someone refers to her as such how is that dismissive or insulting?

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    11. Anonymous 5:47..I think you're marvelous! Perhaps she WAS merely a resident and not also an employee LOL
      For Anonymous 5:41..prostitution was a profession..have some respect yourself

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    12. I have been trying to get the next post done, but I think I am going to jump in here. Prostitute describes a woman who partakes in a certain activity. It isn't a crude word, it is not an inherently offensive word beyond the fact that society recognizes selling sex is demeaning. Which it is. Sex for sale objectifies and enslaves women. In fact, if you really wanted to make a powerful pro-woman point, you could have mentioned that prostitution today is mostly women who are being sex-trafficked. It's a project that the Attorneys General in the U.S. have really started to focus on, which has been nice to see. It doesn't have a judgment one way or another. It just is what it is. *You* added the "she's trash." You projected that into my comment. I neither thought it nor said it. I feel sorry for Nell. Unlike some mistresses of royalty who were aristocratic and fell in with a king for power or because they were genuinely attracted, Nell Gwynn falls into the sadder class of women born in poverty and essentially trafficked all their lives. She didn’t have the autonomy that some royal mistresses have had. There are those who even think Nell was sexually abused as a child, although I don't know what the evidence for that is. I can feel deep compassion for a prostitute, and indeed I do. But the word prostitute, without more, is neither sexist nor anti-woman. Prostitution, the activity itself, is anti-woman, not the word. It seems like you want to say that prostitute should never be used, even when correctly applied, as opposed to calling a celibate woman a prostitute with the obvious intent to insult. I just disagree with that. It is not an inherently bad word. The activity is a sad reality that wrecks lives and we should try to end prostitution and help those enslaved by it, but the word is completely legitimate.

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    13. The choice to use alliteration is a stylistic choice. And quite frankly if the woman was in fact a prostitute how is referring to her as such dismissive or insulting?

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    14. Ok cool, good to know you're not actually going to reflect and ask yourself if calling her a prostitute for your super cool alliteration was dismissive or not. I work in advocacy for sex workers, and I represent those very women you're talking about. That's why I'm so upset that you're not asking yourself if a Kate Middleton blog is really the place to snicker about sex workers. I'm saying that your need to call her a prostitute when the only reason her name came up is because there's a pub named after her is dismissive and plays into a society that will call her a prostitute just to dismiss and belittle her. I think your blog is really great and I'm just asking you to reflect on this one instance that I believe was a mistake, and think about how an actual, living sex worker would feel if she read this and thought to herself, "I could have a restaurant named after me four hundred years from now, but all people would want to talk about was that I had sex for money." Please just consider that sex workers are people too.

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    15. Anon 6:41 *you* are injecting snickering where here wasn't any. If you prefer the term "sex worker" to "prostitute" because you think it is somehow better at conveying that women who have sex for money are in fact people then good for you. But if someone is going to judge a woman because she gets paid for sex they are going to do so no matter the word you use to label the activity.

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    16. OK next time I want to discuss republicanism on a blog about a royal whose very role is threatened by the movement...just remember this discussion. :-[ Or mean-girl remarks. PS this preference of aristocracy and royals for actress/mistresses continued through Edward VII (Lily Langtry et. al.) and more recently to Grace Kelly and need I mention, Harry. Some of them became wives-there has been a countess or duchess or two. Question; when does a woman cease being a girlfriend and becomes a mistress? One term seems more emotionally- charged than the other.

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    17. General statement here... The world would be a better place if people spent their valuable time learning from history rather than attempting to re-write it in today's politically correct terminology.

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    18. I am just going to run through a few points and then I think we should call this thread a wrap. I was not calling prostitutes trash. I used the word properly about a woman who was, regrettably, a prostitute. I understand that it is en vogue to be offended by anything and everything to which an emotion can be attached, but you have not given me a cogent argument for what (other than by you yourself projecting an animus that does not exist) is wrong with using the word prostitute. All I can tease out here is that you work in rehabilitating sex workers, aka prostitutes, which is an admirable undertaking, and you think they’d be offended to know that history has remembered some women as prostitutes. And you think the word is sexist, which for the life of me I cannot figure that one out. In any event, maybe they would be offended. Do you think that would be a justified response? I don’t. Is there a problem with accurately reporting reality? If Nell Gwyn had been a prostitute as a teenager, changed her life, opened up a Theatre in London and become the most successful female entrepreneur of her era, and somehow the only thing she was remembered for was the five years she was a prostitute, then yes. That would be crazy. And unjust. And skewing history. Sadly, and I stress sadly, that was not Nell’s claim to fame. There are women who were prostitutes of a kind, but designating them as such first and foremost would be appropriate. Examples:

      Coco Chanel. She is reputed to have been a prostitute and graduated to kept woman. She didn’t become the most famous kept-woman of her era, though. She built one of the most iconic French fashion labels in history and defined an entire mode of dressing. So we remember her for Chanel.

      Here is another one. Ella Fitzgerald, one of my favorite singers. She also dabbled in prostitution when young. Her song “Love for Sale” is pretty personal. She is also not remembered for her youthful struggles, because she became one of the most renowned jazz singers of her era.

      But, you also seem to be insisting that by using the word prostitute, somehow that is an automatic value judgement on the person rather than the activity. That I must be sneering or deriding all prostitutes simply by designating Nell as such. But wait, I have another example:

      Mary Magdalene. The prostitute who Jesus healed. She is known in every corner of the globe as a prostitute. Depicted in art, referenced in literature “the Magdalene quality,” commemorated by countless churches named for her, revered by millions of faithful, many of whom name their children after her—Magdalena, or the French form Madeline/Madeleine. Are they all sneering at Mary Magdalene, perhaps the most famous prostitute in history? I think not. But her life story is such that she is known as a prostitute…who happened to become a saint.

      My point is that you can’t come to me and say that calling a woman who was the most famous prostitute and mistress of her era, to the point that she is remembered four hundred years later, that somehow I have stepped out of line. Unless you want me to a) rewrite history, or b) ignore it. I don’t believe in either. I cannot remove the stigma of prostitution, nor would I wish to. It is terrible evil that destroys lives. It destroys women. I am concerned that you want to change the term to “sex worker” because that almost feels like you want to legitimize prostitution, which would be anti-woman. We don’t want to remove the stigma, we want to continue to fight and reduce prostitution in all its forms. I did not shame Nell Gwynn (posthumously) nor did I by proxy shame women today who might be trapped in prostitution by circumstance or by force. I am sorry you were offended, but I can’t for the life of me see much logic in it.

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    19. P.S. pardon the misspelling of Nell's last name. I kept switching back and forth, but it is just one n...apparently.

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    20. Brava Jane - as usual very well said!

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    21. For point of reference the Washington Post used the word prostitute in a headline today. I share the information because perhaps some commenters here would like to write them a strongly worded letter

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    22. Oh my god the level of effort you will go to to justify demhumanizing a women with the term prostitute rather than sit for 5 seconds and think about the words you're using. Literally all you had to do was say "Nell Gwyn, the pub not the PERSON" and I wouldn't have a single problem with what you said.

      If you won't listen to me, listen to someone else who works in the field:
      "The term “prostitute” does not simply mean a person who sells her or his sexual labour (although rarely used to describe men in sex work), but brings with it layers of “knowledge” about her worth, drug status, childhood, integrity, personal hygiene and sexual health. When the media refers to a woman as a prostitute, or when such a story remains on the news cycle for only a day, it is not done in isolation, but in the context of this complex history.This stigma is far-reaching and arguably does more damage to women who work in sex work than the actual work."

      Go look at AG Lynch's press releases on sex workers. You won't find them calling a woman a "prostitute" because anyone who is actually knowledgeable in the field accepts that's it's a stigmatized, judgmental word no one should use. And you certainly won't find that term in materials actually written by people who help women sex workers.

      Please don't refuse to even think for a moment about how the words you use may affect women who could happen to be your readers, Jane. I won't be engaging with you any more on this because you refuse to listen to such a basic, compassionate argument. Literally all I was asking was "hey, the rest of the post is great but maybe don't circle back to her possibly being a prostitute. Maybe just keep talking about the pub and Kate Middleton" but you refuse to even for a second listen to people who have thought about this a lot more than you." I wish you well, and the minuscule question I am asking is that you will think twice before you call another woman a prostitute and choose to honor her humanity instead.

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    23. You keep saying I refuse to listen and in reality I am obviously listening, thinking, and engaging you. What I am not doing is agreeing with you, and you shouldn't pretend that somehow I am not listening because you have been unsuccessful in persuading me to your position.

      Prostitution dehumanizes people. The word just describes activity/industry that turns real people into object for someone else’s gratification or profit. That drugs, childhood problems, sexual diseases, etc are also sometimes (not always) associated is the natural by-product of such an evil industry. How would argue against that? Do you want to say there aren’t a lot of drugs in that industry? That prostitutes often have troubled childhoods that funnel them into that way of life? That sexual transmitted diseases doesn’t become a problem for many? Are you trying to deny reality here or help people? You do not return dignity to these women or men by changing the name, and frankly I am concerned that you seem to be advocating that. Changing the name, as someone above said, will only move the same associations over to the new word. Or as I point out, possibly even cloak prostitution in some false mantle of legitimacy. You can’t make any word to describe prostitution better, because the underlying activity is evil. Your incredulity that someone might disagree with you on this and stick to it is also concerning to me. It seems pretty intolerant. I have given you again and again actual reasons for why prostitution is not a bad word in itself, and you have given me seemingly angry feelings back. My only final comment is that had you come and said, “hey, I think you used prostitute there a little flippantly, and I work with rehabilitating these people and I found it a little insensitive for you to define Nell Gwyn as a prostitute first and foremost.” That would have been a reasonable argument, and I might have even seen your point. Your argument is something entirely other. You want to say prostitute is never an acceptable description or name, and I disagree with you. I have obviously given it more than five seconds thought, and I frankly think I have more thoroughly explained to you my position than you have yours. You cannot and should not try to make prostitution ok, which whether you realize it or not, is what you are fundamentally arguing right now.

      With this comment I am closing this thread, but I hope you are able to help many people free themselves from prostitution, and I hope that through your efforts, no matter how well-intentioned, you do not work toward making “sex work” take on a cleaner image, when underneath it is as ugly and destructive to the dignity of the human person as it always has been.

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    24. "Kate Middleton?" speaking of complex history and layers of so-called knowledge. When you or the media use her former name, it is not just a matter of using a name that is commonly known for ease of reference- such as the word discussed above-"Kate Middleton" is a name that has associations of years of abuse in public forums---I don't think I need repeat the hurtful press-promoted phrases used. This wasn't possible, generic harm to an unknown reputation or sense of worth. The use of Kate's slander-associated former name is specific and individual. That sweet little boy may have used that name, but someone gave it to him. I am sure he was aware that THE DUCHESS was coming. Yet he apparently used that name.He was hearing that name somewhere. I assume he was recorded on audio tape, but I still can't believe it was used, especially in that circumstance. Catherine is the Royal Patron of the organization that is helping his family and is the focus of the evening's efforts; yet her non-royal, not-married name was used. I also can't believe it was used in a bitter complaint about the use of names filled with harmful conscious and more subtle meanings...-----What's in a name, indeed.

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    25. anon 1 she is on the record that she is very ok with people continuing to refer to her as Kate.

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    26. Ok. Wow, this thread went way off fashion!!

      I do hope when you describe yourself as an advocate for sex workers that you mean you help them change their lives. Get out of that trade, be healthy, secure a career, education. Some call themselves "advocates" simply to change the laws and make it legal. When, in reality, what these ladies need is the help so they can make better choices. Sex work should not be accepted. Who suffers most are these ladies and their families.

      I also think that most people I know would have a lot of compassion for them and wish them the best. Certainly Kate would and, I know, Jane Barr does too.

      Spring Rain

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    27. To quote Nell Gwyn, "Pray good people, be civil. I am the Protestant whore." 😉
      http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Nell-Gwyn-Gwynne/

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    28. Thumbs up for her being a Protestant.

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  23. She looked beautiful but her hair needs to be put up. And can someone answer why does she always where pumps?? I don't get it either?? Seems odd. And lastly agreement with others. There are jewels galore at Kate's disposal. The earrings were the wrong pick. Seems a shame the finishing touches for a gorgeous dress were off.

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  24. The word prostitute does carry a stigma. That's why you won't find it on the materials of any advocacy group for sex workers.

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    Replies
    1. The word has a stigma because the activity itself was/is stigmatized. Swapping out one word for a shiny new one just means that a new word/phrase will eventually also become stigmatized.

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  25. Sorry, you're assuming Jane actually cares how her words affect other people. She doesn't. She's probably just going to spend all her time writing about how she knows more than you because she's a law student.

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    Replies
    1. What an insanely rude thing to say.

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    2. Anonymous 2:23pm, what a horrible thing to say (I'll resist saying you must be a horrible person). If you have an issue with the author of a blog, don't you have better things to do with your time than read the blog?

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    3. So, this is unrelated to this particular blog post but seeing Kate's blue winter coat here got me thinking about her winter wardrobe and it struck me that I can't remember seeing Kate in her knee high boots at any point this winter! Am I right about this?? I hope not because Kate taught me how to wear knee high boots and I would be so sad to them depart her wardrobe...

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    4. Georgia Rose-I replied to your 5:37 boot comment but it zoomed off somewhere. I have had so much trouble commenting on this blog. Obviously, I persist. Ha! I have always had trouble with weird stuff happening on this site. It isn't my computer as I don't have the trouble on other sites and I have used different machines. ------I won't repeat my comment but I would like to say how much I enjoy seeing that royal blue coat on her.I think you're right that we haven't seen the tall boots recently. Since Canada? those flat heeled boots she wore for the airbase were the only boots I noticed. Otherwise, running shoes for casual wear.

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    5. I think she wore boots with her Paula ke suit

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    6. Anon 2:23, I am trying to think of a time I justified an argument on the basis of being a law student, but...nope, coming up with nada. But, the reason I let your kind comment go live is to remind you that the door to stress, massive workload, and debt that is law school is wide open to you. You, too, can join the ranks of harried attorneys-to-be. It seems the law school thing bothers you, so I am just shooting in the dark here, but it's never too late to join the clan. :)

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  26. She looked good, but I feel like she wears the same dress over and over just picks different colors lol

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  27. Back to the fashion- she looked dynamite! Love the entire look. I just wish she would wear different colors! She favors over and over again- cream, red or royal blue. And lace,lace, lace. I think Jane should compile a "Lace" dress post, and obviously this would fit in it too. I love the earrings- I think she should auction it off for the organization appeal. They don't look like a staple for her- a one-off probably.

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  28. Dear Jane,
    Some of these comments are laughable. The very fact that you post historical facts about places/people is wonderful and informing. I love reading your blog because you provide background. It is my opinion that this brouhaha over the word "prostitute", is brought on by someone very unbalanced. Keep up your great blog.

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    Replies
    1. Nope, sorry, Jane can decide not to care but working to advocate in the field and standing up for ignorant writing doesn't make me "unbalanced".

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    2. Anon 1:10pm, No, what I have demonstrated very thoroughly is that I do care. I care about these women as people and have their best interests at heart, I have empathy and compassion for their plight—I have all the emotions you claim I don’t have, and I have even presented the possibility that I may have used the word “prostitute” flippantly in this context, but I have disagreed with you that the word prostitute should never be used and I have given you reasons why I think this a bad idea. Your response is that I am a bad person. You aren’t addressing my position, you are attacking me. That might be the way many disagreements play out in 2017, but I hope you see that you are not engaging me in an actual debate on the substance of our disagreement, you are just calling me names and attempting to discredit my character rather than prove my position is wrong.

      Tedi, thanks. :) I appreciate the encouragement!

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    3. Anon 1:10,

      Are you advocating to legalize prostitution? I can't seem to find the answer to this in your comments.

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  29. Love the dress, shoes, bag etc. And the earrings are such fun. I love "42nd Street". What a great event to benefit such a worthy cause.

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  30. Jane..love your blog and your fairness. Continually astounded at some of these extreme and off-balance comments coming from the same few..they are a familiar few. Keep up this wonderful and informative blog!

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The rules for commenting are simple: be polite. Please be respectful of the BRF/Middletons, even in criticism; please be respectful of your fellow readers, even in disagreement. Vulgarity will disqualify a comment.

Debate is welcome, direct and personal insults are not. Topics we tend to avoid here: "does Kate work enough?" and "Is Kate too skinny?" Everything is subject to approval.

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