Monday, 19 February 2018

Kate and Sophie Join Forces for Commonwealth Fashion Exchange

The Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace on behalf of the Queen during London Fashion Week to celebrate and showcase a new creative initiative - the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange.

I was very pleased to hear Kate and Sophie were teaming up when the engagement was announced. I think it's a terrific strategy for two members of the royal family to join forces in support of a shared interest. Both ladies are avid supporters of British fashion, making tonight's event a great fit for them.

They both returned to duties this week following half-term break with their children. Sophie and Edward went skiing with their children in the Swiss Alps; unfortunately 14-year-old Lady Louise fractured her left leg before the family returned to London.

The pair were also joined by Princess Beatrice.

Upon arrival, Kate and Sophie looked at several of the designs.

Launched earlier this month, by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange aims to create partnerships between established and emerging talent from across the 52 member countries, in the lead up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is one of the most important events on the royal calendar this year. From April 16-20, leaders from all member countries will gather in London and Windsor. They will come together to reaffirm common values, address the shared global challenges faced and agree how to work to create a better future for all Commonwealth citizens, particularly young people. It is slated to be the biggest summit ever held in Britain. Politically, the event has added significance because of Brexit and the government are eager to deploy the Royal family throughout the week. An array of forums, meetings and a glittering State Banquet are on the agenda. The Telegraph reports it will conclude with a special celebration marking the Queen's 92nd birthday at the Royal Albert Hall marking her lifelong commitment to the Commonwealth. The Duchess, who is expecting her third baby in April, will be on maternity leave during the week, the timing of tonight's Fashion Exchange meant she could still participate in one of the events leading up to it.

The reception brought together influential people from across the global fashion industry, including designers, manufacturers, textile producers and craftspeople.

Below, Kate chatting with Stella McCartney and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

The Duchess meeting guests.

The Countess is patron of London College of Fashion.

Princess Beatrice admires the creations.

The initiative uses fashion as a common language and platform to help people understand the modern Commonwealth in a different way. It celebrates creativity, sustainable production and manufacturing, trade links and ethical supply chains across the fashion industry, from business and design to textile and fabric design and manufacturing, to craft and artisan skills.

Over the last six months, major fashion designers have partnered with artisan producers in small nations who exemplify traditional handcraft techniques and trades, with a view to creating a 'skills exchange'.

Selected design talent includes major names such as Karen Walker representing New Zealand, Bibi Russell representing Bangladesh and Burberry and Stella McCartney representing the UK.

Several looks on display at the Palace.

The headdresses displayed on each of the mannequins in the State Rooms were created using 6,000 pieces of reclaimed paper from the film Fast & Furious 6.

A map of the exchanges.

The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, said: “The modern Commonwealth is young and creative. It represents a third of the world’s population, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 30. So fashion, alongside music and sport, represents a powerful common language and platform through which to influence young people around key issues.

Livia Firth's (if you recognise the name, Livia is married to Colin Firth) firm Eco-Age - a brand/marketing consultancy that helps businesses to grow, by creating, implementing and communicating sustainability solutions - will manage the initiative. Below, Kate and Livia tonight.

Speaking about the initiative she said:

“This is a project rich in partnerships and creative co-design. For example, one of our very talented designers from India is paired with an artisan group in Tuvalu. As someone who is passionate about joining the threads of global fashion and creating real partnerships you can imagine how exciting it is for us to be involved.”

More on the collaboration Livia mentioned: "Behno has originated a signature style for the brand that combines innovative textiles with strong masculine tailoring. For the fashion exchange, Benho created a repurposed wool coat featuring Indian mirror-work and a sheer dress made from remnants of blue silk organza, embellished with Swarovski upcycled crystals, with black crochet 'kolose' panels. Five women from Tuvalu, artisans from a cooperative called Fafine Niutao I Aotearoa, spent a month creating the panels, using a crochet technique that is particularly popular in the region".

For the UK-India partnership, Stella McCartney created a gown using Oshadi’s peace silk, produced using ancient hand-weaving techniques, and naturally dyed by local skilled craftsmen in Tamil Nadu. Peace silk is reeled from empty cocoons, meaning that silkworms are left to hatch into moths before the silk is spun from the cocoons in a way similar to spinning wool. It takes a weaver one day to create 5m of hand woven peace silk using a hand loom, compared to hundreds that can be produced by machines.

Kate and Sophie viewing Stella's design tonight.

A selfie from Stella at the reception.

Burberry designed a look created using the highest quality Oeko-Tex certified Australian Merino wool to create a reimagined trench coat, accompanied by woollen trousers made with Oeko-Tex certified yarns, and knitwear made with non-muelsed wool. The suppliers and manufacturers involved in creating the look are part of Burberry’s 2020 project, involved in capacity building programmes encompassing training relating to ethical performance, audits, chemical management practices, and adhering to Burberry’s code of conduct.

Two beautiful designs created for the exchange.

You can read all the fashion exchange stories here.

The Duchess met artisans from around the Commonwealth and heard about a partnership between Karen Walker and a cooperative of women from the Cook Islands, who are expert in the craft of 'tivaivai'.

More from the Mail Online:

'Among those Kate chatted to was Nigerian designer Nkwo, who said she had been fascinated to learn about the heading process and how long it had taken her. ‘I explained to her that everything had been hand sewn. The only time a machine was used was for the lining. She couldn’t believe it. ‘The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange has been such a wonderful experience. I really hope it will help to put us on the map - not as African fashion, but simply as fashion.’
The Duchess also chatted with New Zealand designer Karen Walker and her collaborator Tukua Tuna, from the Kuki Airani Creative Mamas, who originally hails from the Cook Islands but is now based in Auckland. ‘The Duchess asked us how long it had taken - 1,000 hours was the answer,’ Miss Walker said. ‘And she was just amazed at the level of detail that Tukua and her team had undertaken in stitching the islands’ beautiful flowers. It was such a wonderful, open and liberating process to work together. Mrs Tuna, 74, added: ‘The Duchess couldn’t quite believe it when I told her we had used 9,000 metres of thread!’

Iridescent Fashion was set up by 17-year-olds Keeanna Ible and Shavaneice Lake and is based in St Kitts & Nevis. It was paired with artisan Neisha La Touche from Grenada to create this outfit inspired by carnival.

The reception showcased the best of Commonwealth contemporary fashion and creativity with an exhibition of some of the bespoke fashion 'looks' which are the result of the designer-producer partnerships. Following their royal debut at Buckingham Palace, the looks will be displayed at a public exhibition at London’s Australia House on February 21 and other various London locations in the run up to Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in April. The clothes will travel to New York in September when an edited collection will be launched at Matches Fashion.

The Duchess wore a bespoke version of the Erdem Suzi Dress tonight.

The £2,150 piece is described as: "Pretty floral lace takes on an unexpectedly graphic edge in striking black and white. The ultra-flattering fit and flare Suzi Dress hits just above the knee, and is finished with scallop edging around the ¾ length sleeves, neck and hem and soft gently frilled detailing at the waist. A deep V-neck finishes the flirty design. Nude crepe de chine lining. Made in the UK."


The pretty floral print.

I believe Anna Wintour and Princess Beatrice also wore Erdem.

Kate teamed the dress with her Prada Suede Cutout Wavy pumps. The $750 pumps are described as "feminine suede pumps with cutout detail". Made in Italy, they feature a pointed toe and self-covered heel.

Kate accessorised her Anita Dongre pearl earrings.

Kate debuted the pair at the UK-India Year of Culture Reception last year.

Earlier, I noted on Twitter, I thought it quite likely we would see at least one of the royal ladies wearing one of the participating designers such as Stella McCartney or Burberry. The Countess of Wessex did just that opting for Burberry's Contrast Topstitch Detail Crepe V-neck Dress. You can read more about Sophie on the terrific Countess of Wessex blog.

More from Bethan Holt's piece for The Telegraph:

'With London Fashion Week in full swing, the Duchess of Cambridge and Sophie, Countess of Wessex hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace on Monday evening to celebrate The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, a new initiative which brings together the biggest talents in artisanal and luxury design from across its 52 countries.
And while Kate and Sophie both fly the flag for British fashion regularly with their fashion choices, it felt like they had both made a special effort for the fashion crowd in attendance. 
The Duchess of Cambridge, now seven months pregnant, opted for a black and white guipure lace dress by Erdem, who had showed his Autumn/ Winter 2018 collection earlier in the day at the National Portrait Gallery. She frequently turns to the Canadian-Turkish designer for eveningwear, choosing two of his dresses during the recent tour to Norway and Sweden. Princess Beatrice also joined the reception wearing an Erdem dress. 
Meanwhile, the Countess of Wessex nodded to the biggest story of London Fashion Week- the departure of Christopher Bailey from Burberry- by wearing a black cocktail dress from the house. Burberry is one of the design partners representing the UK in the programe which is also supported by Swarovski and The Woolmark Company and has been created ahead of April's Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.'

We'll see William and Kate on Wednesday for their visit to Sunderland. They will first visit The Fire Station, one of Sunderland’s most iconic buildings, recently converted into a music and arts hub. The Duke and Duchess will then travel to see the Northern Spire, an ambitious and striking new bridge over the River Wear, due to open in spring 2018.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The Duchess in Green Jenny Packham & Stunning Emeralds for the BAFTAs

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the glittering EE British Academy Film Awards ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall tonight.

The couple made their debut at the event last year for the 70th awards ceremony. Prince William has been President of the Academy since 2010, and both he and the Duchess have supported BAFTA’s charitable activities by attending events across the charity’s learning programme, including Young Game Designers and BAFTA Kids events, as well as others related to building cross-cultural collaborations with the creative industries in China.

William and Kate walked the red carpet.

The scene at the Royal Albert Hall.

Ahead of the ceremony Kensington Palace said: "While BAFTA is well known for celebrating excellence and championing creativity through its awards, it is a charity committed to identifying talented individuals, and making sure they receive the encouragement, professional support and advice that will enable them to succeed, regardless of their background or other circumstances. In addition to its awards ceremonies, BAFTA has a year-round learning and new talent programme, including a campaign to support young people from all backgrounds entering the film, games and television industries, which the Duke helped relaunch in 2013, and a scholarships programme, which features the 'Prince William Scholarships in Film, Games and Television'."

The glittering BAFTA Awards is a star-studded celebration of achievements in film, commending the finest performances and movies of the year. It is considered one of the biggest nights on the entertainment calendar. Contenders for Best Film this year include Dunkirk, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Darkest Hour, Call Me By Your Name and The Shape of Water.

More from Variety:

Nominated in the lead actress category are Annette Bening for “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,” Frances McDormand for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Margot Robbie for “I, Tonya,” Sally Hawkins for “The Shape of Water,” and Saoirse Ronan for “Lady Bird.”
Competing for the lead actor title are Daniel Day-Lewis for “Phantom Thread,” Daniel Kaluuya for “Get Out,” Gary Oldman for “Darkest Hour,” Jamie Bell for “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,” and Timothée Chalamet for “Call Me by Your Name.”

Before the ceremony, William and Kate met BAFTA nominees.

The BAFTA award trophy is a mask designed by American sculptor, Mitzi Cunliffe. When the Guild merged with the British Film Academy to become the Society of Film and Television Arts, later the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the first 'BAFTA award' was presented to Sir Charles Chaplin on his Academy Fellowship that year.

A video of William and Kate arriving.

The Duke and Duchess take their seats.

The show began with a breathtaking performance inspired by The Shape of Water.

Three Billboards was the big winner taking home five awards including Best Film, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor.

Prince William presented the Fellowship Award. It is awarded annually at the ceremony, and is the highest accolade bestowed by the Academy to an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games. The recipient of this year’s Fellowship was British filmmaker, Sir Ridley Scott.

William's speech:

Catherine and I are extremely pleased to be here amongst you all this evening.
The Film Awards are just one part of BAFTA's activity. I have been privileged over the years to experience first-hand the impact of its work in the United Kingdom, in Los Angeles, New York and Asia - work ranging from scholarships and supporting new talent, through to masterclasses with the very best in the industry - many of whom are here this evening. 
Your support of BAFTA - sharing skills, expertise and time - means we can ensure the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. It ensures that we can do much, much more to help talented people from all backgrounds to be given the opportunity to succeed.
The recipient of this year's Fellowship - the highest honour the Academy can bestow - is a true cinema great. His films are amongst my own personal favourites! A director and producer whose work has engaged audiences for 40 years and whose creativity continues to inspire the vital next generation of talent...
Please welcome to the stage, Sir Ridley Scott.

William and Kate met nominees and winners after the show.

More from The Telegraph:

The Duchess told Lee Unkrich, the director of Coco which won best animated film, that her husband and son could now bond over watching films. “I'm desperate to see it,” she said of Coco, a Pixar animation about a boy who wants to be a musician helped by his great-great-grandfather from the land of the dead. “Lots of girlfriends have been to see it with their kiddies and been really impressed with it.
“They [Prince George and Princess Charlotte] are just getting into films now, George is four-and-a-half. Paddington is definitely up there and now Coco. “It's great obviously because of William's interest in film, it's great to have that father-son thing.”
The Duke, in conversation on stage after most Bafta guests had left for the formal dinner, said he had “loved” Baby Driver, adding: “I love the music as well and he drives like a legend.”

Whilst this is a night of glamour and entertainment, there was another significance to the ceremony tonight and indeed the 2018 awards season thus far. Several weeks ago, a number of leading Hollywood actresses decided to wear black for the event in solidarity with the Time's Up movement. Actors and activists have collaborated to support the UK Justice and Equality Fund. This is a new body that will provide a network of expert advice, support and advocacy organizations across the UK. Emma Watson has already donated £1M. The fund has already raised over £1.5 million. Below, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Lily James tonight.

A host of stars including Watson, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet, Claire Foy, Rosamund Pike, Saoirse Ronan, Tessa Thompson and Naomie Harris released a letter, Sisters, this is our moment to say Time's Up. Below, a portion of the piece:

Dear Sisters,
A little over a month ago Time’s Up was launched. You might have read a public letter in the New York Times. You may have noticed women wearing black on the red carpet. You might have seen women coming forward to share their stories of harassment. Maybe you identified with some of the stories these women shared.
Maybe you found yourself nodding as you recalled similar moments in your own life.
Here in the UK, this movement is at a critical juncture. The gender pay gap for women in their 20s is now five times greater than it was six years ago. Research in the UK has found that more than half of all women said they have experienced sexual harassment at work. A growing reliance on freelance work forces creates power relationships which are conducive to harassment and abuse. Those engaged in insecure contract work are especially vulnerable to exploitation. While we know women are disproportionately affected by this abuse, we also know there are men in our industry and others that have been subjected to harassment and abuse as part of this system of patriarchal power. And they too have been silenced.
So, what is our industry’s role in promoting a vision of an equal society? We believe it is huge. We believe we need to use our power as communicators and connectors to shift the way society sees and treats us. We need to examine the kind of womanhood our industry promotes and sells to the world.
There is no question that Time’s Up should be and will be a global movement. A movement that is defined and led by those affected by the problem, not by those in power. As we approach the Baftas – our industry’s time for celebration and acknowledgment, we hope we can celebrate this tremendous moment of solidarity and unity across borders by coming together and making this movement international. Perhaps Time’s Up seems a million miles away to you – started by a group of women with privilege. The truth is, we are all workers, and whether we’re in the limelight or in the shadows, our voices matter. With our collective power, we can galvanize others.

In a foreword for the programme William referenced the movement:

'As president, I am proud of the leadership BAFTA has shown; in a year which rocked the industry as many brave people spoke up about bullying, harassment and abuse despite the risk to their professional careers and reputations.'

Reporters described Kate's sartorial choice for the night as a "diplomatic minefield". The Royal family has a strict policy of avoiding anything which could be construed as a political statement. Whatever Kate chose to wear tonight it was going to be the topic of headlines and conversation. I would have loved to see Kate in black tonight; any woman who has experienced sexual harassment or knows someone who has is acutely aware it's a systemic problem across all industries; it's certainly not limited to Hollywood. Wearing black through the awards season will not change the deeply rooted problems; I do hope it's a step in the right direction though, and a show of solidarity from the future queen would have been appreciated. Perhaps in time it will be remembered as a missed opportunity for Kate. Equally, I am uncomfortable with the vilification of women who don't conform to certain expectations and perhaps it was felt wearing black tonight would create those expectations for future movements and campaigns. Ultimately, feminism is all about choice and given her position I can understand her choice tonight. It's not a decision which would have been made lightly or without the advice of aides. I imagine it was felt the subdued green with black accessories was the best compromise. The dark green Jenny Packham gown features a deep v neckline and a black sash, which has been seen as a subtle nod to the movement.

More from the Telegraph:

'The Duchess of Cambridge has given just a nod to the Time’s Up movement in a sombre dark green dress with black sash, as she eschews an unofficial all-black dress code for this year’s Bafta ceremony.
The Duchess has been presented with a difficult dilemma ahead of the awards, after actresses and industry leaders circulated a letter asking attendees to wear black. Members of the Royal Family are supposed to avoid all political statements, leaving the Duchess with a stark choice between being accused of overstepping her position or being the only woman wearing colour.
In the event, she took the middle ground, wearing a dark green Jenny Packham gown with a black sash to blend in with the dark dress code. Neither the Duke or the Duchess appeared to be wearing the Time’s Up lapel pin, which many others had donned to walk the the red carpet. A spokesman for Kensington Palace did not comment on the choice.'

There are multiple similarities between the gown and her much-loved ink blue Packham dress.

You may recall Kate wore dazzling emerald and diamond jewellery in New York in 2014.

Kate's sparkling emerald and diamond jewellery worn tonight are part of the suite. The earrings appear to be convertible, Kate also wore the bracelet again tonight.

It has been speculated the jewels were a wedding gift, and I think you'll agree, they are absolutely beautiful.

More from Harper's Bazaar:

The Duchess wore a emerald-and-diamond necklace, and matching bracelet. Emeralds are thought to represent compassion, harmony, hope and mercy.

Kate carried her black Mascaro clutch.

And wore her Prada Suede Cutout Wavy pumps. The $750 pumps are described as "feminine suede pumps with cutout detail". Made in Italy, they feature a pointed toe and self-covered heel.

Kate's make up looked lovely tonight - she was glowing!

Tomorrow, The Duchess and The Countess of Wessex will attend the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at Buckingham Palace.

Kate's Favourites