Who will she wear? What will they dress her in? Such murmurs and interest around a single person’s week long wardrobe have not taken place since… no, unfortunately not even Mahira Khan in Cannes.
The week long royal tour of Pakistan took place with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, coming down to the country to strengthen ties between the UK and Pakistan. But, besides them visiting schools, shedding light on education, visiting the endangered Kailash tribe and showing how beautiful tourism in Pakistan could be - all eyes were on Middleton’s sartorial game. We’ll even give William a thumbs-up for his Nauman Arfeen green sherwani.
Kate Middleton’s mastery of the royal tour-drobe is a well-established fact by now but her stepping on to our home-ground sparked new levels of interest. Many on the Twitterverse wondered why there’s so much interest in "the colonisers" outfits but what makes the royals wardrobe choices interesting is the set of rules they so delicately operate within.
One of the many rules dictate that they cannot publicly express political opinions so the royals seem to have mastered the art of sending messages in other ways -- or so some believe. Royals’ outfits are often newsworthy in and of themselves -- for example, anything Meghan Markle wears sells out instantly in a phenomenon known as the "Markle effect" and the late Lady Diana was also known for sending messages through her clothing with iconic outfits such as the "revenge dress".
So, it makes sense that they would harness the power of the world’s attention on their clothes and let people draw their own conclusions.
Over the last nine years, the Duchess of Cambridge has used the platform created for her by the generations of royals before her and fine-tuned the art of ‘dressing with meaning’ with a focus on affordability. Her daywear engagements often earn global headlines but her most iconic looks are showcased during royal tours aboard and her efforts in Pakistan are evident of that.
With a cultural need for modest clothing and high temperatures during the day, it was possible that Kate would follow the lead of Princess Diana who undertook a solo royal tour in 1991, by wearing several traditional, lightweight styles - and she did. Comparisons were instantly made to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana, who donned a similar hue or silhouette during one of her many visits to Pakistan but the truth is that many of her looks are inspired by the late Diana but there is never a complete replication in her style.
As the royal couple touched down at Kur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Kate debuted a new cowl neck ombre dress by her go-to royal designer Catherine Walker. She wore it with a pair of matching cigarette trousers underneath reflecting Pakistan’s conservative dress code. As a Pakistani woman, who favours functional fashion and can appreciate Kate keeping in mind the country’s customs - the cowl neck reminiscent of a dupatta around her neckline was pure genius. It added the effect of a dupatta without an added obstruction of something weighing the Princess down (as we imagine it can do for someone who’s not used to wearing it.) She once again wore a pair of earrings and clutch from Pakistani brand Zeen after causing a sell-out of much of its stock earlier this month when she debuted a sparkling green pair. Kate is known to mix expensive designer wear with affordable pieces which she continued to do in her time here putting a brand like Zeen on the map and mixing it with a high end designer.
For day two that kick-started with a visit to the Government Girls College, Middleton wore a very appropriate periwinkle blue shalwar kameez with a two-toned chiffon dupatta by Maheen Khan with Russell & Bromley flats. For their meeting with PM Imran Khan, the Duchess changed into another green Catherine Walker tunic, which she coupled with pants, again from Maheen Khan and a scarf by Satrangi. For her third quick-change in duties, this time it was into an emerald green sparkling Jenny Packham dress for a reception hosted by the British High Commission in Islamabad. William also wore a sherwani which was much appreciated by fans who wanted to see him in something traditional. Pakistani brand Naushemian by Nauman Arfeen put together a green self-embossed jamawar sherwani for him to match Kate’s look. The decision for the couple to wear green is no doubt in tribute to it being Pakistan’s national colour.
As the royal couple made their way to Chitral the next morning, Kate forego the ethnic attire she’d been sporting on her trip and was seen in a long suede skirt, boots and a leather jacket, making for a very chic look. The Duchess was given the regimental cap of the Chitrali Scouts but what caught our eye was the traditional Chitrali cap, pakhol, embellished with green peacock feathers that was very similar to what Diana wore when she visited the area in 1991. It is often considered as an old and traditional Pashtun version of a beret and is given to tourists as a souvenir of Chitrali culture. This moment definitely harkened back to when Diana, often called The People’s Princess even after her divorce with Prince Charles, visited the area and how time has changed that part of Pakistan.
All her fashion choices so far have been very classic Kate: modest but modern and worn with confidence. Her choices that pay tribute to local customs will secure a place for her in the hearts of the locals, who are fans of the royals and will play well back home in the U.K, where there are 1.5 million people of Pakistani heritage. For a local brand like Zeen or Satrangi, it doesn’t hurt to have royalty sporting your accessories!