venerdì 19 agosto 2016

Brands Kate Loves: Jigsaw

Catherine worked for Jigsaw as an assistant accessories buyer for about a year, between 2006 and 2007.

Based on Mortlake Rd, in Kew, south-west London, the company was started in 1972 by John Robinson and Malcolm Webster, and is now owned by Robinson Webster (Holdings) Ltd.
The company aims "to sell stylish clothes in inspiring surroundings, at affordable prices", true to their motto that "fashion is temporary but style is permanent".

In December 2006, when Catherine was 24 years old and had been dating Prince William for around three years, a spokeswoman for Jigsaw said: "We can confirm that Kate joined our staff two or three weeks ago as an accessory buyer for Jigsaw and Jigsaw Junior. We can't comment any further."
One of the company's owners, John Robinson, and his wife Belle are close family friends of the Middletons. The role of assistant accessories buyer was therefore tailored to Catherine's needs, in order to accomodate her growing royal commitments.

At the time, Catherine was often photographed wearing Jigsaw pieces, like this pretty Pansy Floral silk dress, which came with a £169 price tag and, in an early example of the "Kate effect", immediately became rather popular with shoppers:

While working for Jigsaw, Catherine collaborated with British brand Claudia Bradby Jewellery, which designs contemporary pearl jewellery for everyday wear, combining the finest cultured pearls, semi-precious stones and sterling silver to create beautiful, timeless pieces.
At the time Bradby told the Evening Standard that she'd written to Catherine to congratulate her on the new appointment with Jigsaw, and then later Catherine got in touch to discuss creating a small pendant together.

We're talking about the "Kate" rose quartz and silver necklace, which is still available to buy at £72/$105/€93:

 The necklace was reissued after the royal engagement announcement (above, the Evening Standard report). Also, notice the inflation, as back in 2010 the necklace was just £42!

The piece was originally part of the brand's Junior range, aimed at girls aged 6-18 and was reissued as part of the main brand's "Heritage" collection in time for the Royal Wedding.
A matching pair of earrings is now available as well.
From the description on the Claudia Bradby website: "designed in collaboration with Kate Middleton, this delicate silver pendant framed with rose quartz and pearl charms is fittingly feminine. Layer with the Camellia necklace for a full effect.
The pink pearl is traditionally a symbol of love and today rose quartz is known as 'the stone of gentle love'".

Another Claudia Bradby piece with an obvious connection to Catherine is the "Camellia" rose quartz and amazonite necklace, which retails at £225/$326/€288. Rose quartz and amazonite are both associated with love and said to balance the emotions and promote calm.

Catherine was photographed wearing the "Camellia" necklace at Celtenham racecourse in April 2007 just before her brief split with Prince William (below left) and in December that year at an airport stopover (below right):


On a side note, it was Claudia's husband Tom Bradby, a long-standing acquaintance of Prince William, who carried out the first official joint interview of the couple after the engagement was announced on 10 November 2010:

Both Tom and Claudia Bradby were guests at the Royal Wedding:

Catherine quit the job at Jigsaw in November 2007, fuelling rumors of an imminent royal engagement, after the couple had briefly split in April that year. It was reported at the time that she gave up the role as she wanted "time to herself", with some speculating she might build on her passion for photography and go on to open a gallery. As it turned out, this project never materialized and it was in fact another three years before the engagement was announced.

giovedì 4 agosto 2016

Throwback Thursday: A Recap of Canada 2011 Tour Outfits

Hello, everyone! Hope your summer is going well so far! I thought I'd grab the chance of this quiet time in terms of royal engagements to have a look back at the outfits the Duchess of Cambridge wore on her first visit to Canada in July 2011, her very first royal tour, while we're all waiting for #RoyalTourCanada round 2 this autumn.

I had lots of fun putting this together, as the majority of the outfits debuted in 2011 have never since been worn again (with the exception of some shoes and jewellery, and very few items of clothing), so it was a trip down memory lane of sorts, as some of them I had forgotten (I wasn't yet the compulsive keen replikater I would become!) and it was nice to rediscover some of her earlier styles.

Items that have been worn again after the 2011 tour are marked with an *

1. 30 June 2011 - Departing Heathrow Airport en route to Canada.

2. 30 June 2011 - Arrival in Ottawa and welcome ceremony at Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General of Canada.

3. 30 June 2011 - Attending a barbecue for 120 young people involved in charity work at Rideau Hall. It was meant to be an outdoor event, but bad weather meant it was moved inside Government House.

4. 1 July 2011 - Attending Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa.

5. 1 July 2011 - Attending the evening Canada Day celebrations and fireworks dispaly at Parliament Hill, Ottawa.


6. 2 July 2011 - Tree-planting ceremony in the grounds of Government House (they planted an Eastern Hemlock tree, a symbol of undying love, very near the Pin Oak planted on William's 1st birthday by his parents the Prince and Princess of Wales). Later visit to the Canadian War Musuem in Ottawa and departure for Montréal. There the couple visited the cancer and neonatal units of Sainte Justine University Hospital.

7. 2 July 2011 - Cookery lesson and dinner at the Institut de Tourisme et de l'Hôtellerie du Québec in Montréal. After dinner, the Cambridges boarded the HMCS Montréal and sailed the St. Lawrence river to Québec City.
The Duchess maintained the same outfit as earlier in the day, but swapped the accessories for black ones: black satin Prada pumps with curved heel (*); bespoke "Maud" clutch in black ink satin by Anya Hindmarch (*); she added a personalised ITHQ chef's jacket for the cookery lesson (Daily Mail article here).

8. 3 July 2011 - Sunday morning non-denominational prayer service on board the HMCS Montréal, then arrival in Québec City and visit to La Maison Dauphine, a shelters that supports vulnerable young people, and later taking part in officials ceremonies at City Hall.

9. 3 July 2011 - Attending the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the founding of the city of Lévis, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence.

10. 3 July 2011 - Arrival at Charlottetown Airport on Prince Edward Island.
Outfit remained the same, with the addition of a pale peach pink tweed jacket by Chanel and new shoes, the "Lovely" pumps in powder pink suede by Jimmy Choo (*).

11. 4 July 2011 - Tour of Prince Edward Island and welcome ceremony at Province House in Charlottetown. Anna of Green Gables, Catherine's favourite childhood book, is set on the island.
Cream and navy knit sailor dress by Alexander McQueen (*); Diamonds by the Yard bracelet by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. (*); sapphire and diamond earrings (*); navy suede Alexander McQueen pumps, thought to be in a bespoke colour (*) - (Daily Mail article here).

12. 4 July 2011 - Afternoon at Dalvay by the Sea resort on Prince Edward Island, where the couple took part in a dragon boat race.

13. 4 July 2011 - Arrival at Yellowknife Airport in the Northwest Territories and transfer to hotel.


14. 5 July 2011 - A day of events in Yellowknife, including traditional Inuit games, a game of street hockey and a student parliament meeting.
"Bullett" dress by Malene BirgerL.K. Bennett "Sledge" taupe patent leather court shoes (*); Diamonds by the Yard bracelet by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. (*); Stuart Weitzman "Muse" clutch in nude snakeskinKiki Classic citrine pear drop earrings by Kiki McDonough (*); the Premier of the Northwest Territories presented Catherine with a diamond-studded platinum polar bear brooch during the visit (you can see the brooch here, Prince William received matching cufflinks). Catherine has never worn the brooch in public, but I'd say there's a good possibility we'll see it during the 2016 tour (Daily Mail article here, Yelloknife photos are at the bottom).

15. 5 July 2011 - The couple took a Twin Otter float plane to Blachford Lake, where they met with the Canadian Rangers and paddled a canoe out to Eagle Island, where they were able to enjoy a private dinner of caribou, arctic char, whitefish and cranberry bannock beside a campfire.

16. 6 July 2011 - Surprise visit to Slave Lake, a small town in northern Alberta, which was affected by wildfire in May 2011.

17. 7 July 2011 - Arrival at Calgary International Airport and visit to W21C, a health systems and innovation initiative based in the University of Calgary.

18. 7 July 2011 - Attending the Calgary Stampede at the BMO Centre.

19. 8 July 2011 - In the morning the couple attended the Stampade parade again and lit the fireworks.
White cowboy hat by SmithbiltGoldsign "Passion" boot cut jeansButler & Wilson turquoise cross belt; gold-plated logo leaf earrings by Vinnie Day; R. Soles "Vegas Setter" cowgirl boots; Diamonds by the Yard bracelet by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. (*); Temperley London "Rodeo" cotton and silk blend shirt (*); turquoise ball drop earrings made by local designer Corrie McLeod, which had been gifted to Catherine, along with a matching necklace, during the welcome ceremony the night before (Daily Mail article here).

20. 8 July 2011 - Visit to Calgary Zoo and military review at the airport, en route to Los Angeles.

martedì 2 agosto 2016

Brands Kate Loves: Asprey

Founded in 1781, Asprey has a long and established relationship with British royalty dating back to the 1800s when Queen Victoria awarded the first Royal Warrant for dressing cases, travelling bags, and writing cases.
Since then, Asprey has held a Royal Warrant for every British monarch and several other foreign heads of state. Today, Asprey continues to hold a Royal Warrant for the Prince of Wales.

The Duchess of Cambridge has been photographed wearing a few Asprey pieces over the years, starting from well before her engagement, when she wore the "167 Button" pendant to the Boodles Boxing Ball at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on 3 June 2006.

The "167 Button" pendant is a pavé diamond button with a central amethyst stone, in 18ct white gold suspended from an 18ct white gold chain. The pendant has a diameter of 14mm / 0.6", while the chain is 45.7cm /18" long and is priced at £3,150/$4,250. The purple amethyst is a nod to the firm's signature colour - all Asprey purchases are wrapped in signature Asprey purple packaging and tied with purple ribbon:

The design is inspired by the buttons employed in traditional English tailoring, and the number 167 references the brand's prestigious Mayfair premises, at 167 New Bond Street.

The Duchess has selected the "167 Button" pendant for many significant occasions: she wore it on 23 October 2010, just prior to the official announcement of her engagement, to the wedding of Harry Meade and Rosie Bradford in Gloucestershire (below left); it travelled with her on her first overseas tour, where it made a high-profile appearance on Canada Day on 1 July 2011 (below right):

Other significant appearances of the pendant include the Duchess's first solo engagement at the opening of a Lucian Freud exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London on 8 February 2012 (below left), then at her first official engagement since the announcement of her pregnancy with Prince George, again at the National Portrait Gallery for the unveiling of her first official portrait on 11 January 2013 (below right):

 *          *         *

Another well-loved Asprey piece in the royal jewellery box, albeit a much more recent acquisition, is the Woodland Charm necklace. The charms, part of Asprey's Woodland Collection, which takes inspiration from the "myriad wonders of Britain’s woodlands", are designed by Shaun Leane and realised in 18ct yellow gold, diamond and enamel, with prices starting at £2,050/$2,800 for the Oak Leaf charm, one of those in the Duchess's necklace (the others are the Acorn charm, priced at £3,050/$4,150) and Mushroom charm for £4,100/$5,550):

The necklace made its first appearance on Easter Sunday 2014, while on a visit to Taronga Zoo in Sydney, as part of the royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, and the Duchess has worn it a number of times since, including on her subsequent visit to the National Indigenous Training Academy at Uluru (shown below):

The acorn and oak leaf charm are most probably a subtle reference to the Duchess's own coat of arms, which features three acorns with leaves to represent the three Middleton children:

Incidentally, if you love this necklace as much as I do and are after a great repli-kate, you might want to consider the one by The Looking Glass Shop on Etsy; you can read my review here.

 *          *         *
Debate is still very much open on whether the unidentified diamond and gemstone earrings Catherine debuted in Singapore at a reception at Eden Hall on 12 September 2012, are indeed by Asprey.
Below, she is seen wearing them at a tea party at the British High Commissioner residence in Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, later in the tour:

The earrings feature a medium-sized oval pale blue gemstone (aquamarine?), surrounded by pavé diamonds and hanging from a row of five bezel-set brilliants.
My Small Obsessions has a series of close-ups on her Facebook page.
Asprey does have rather distinctive, although not exclusive, ear posts (shown below on a different style for comparison), that seem to match the ones in Catherine's earrings, but the uncertainty remains:

By far the most striking piece of Asprey jewellery ever worn by Catherine, however, is the instantly recognizable Canadian Maple Leaf brooch:

In the form of a leaf of the Candian Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), the national emblem of Canada, it was given to Queen Elizabeth by King George VI, to mark the State Visit to Canada in 1939. It was first seen on the Queen's lapel during the Atlantic crossing in the liner Empress of Australia, and appeared on many occasion throughout the tour and thereafter (shown below left in Vancouver in 1958, and in 2000, worn to receive the insignia of the Order of Canada at Buckingham Palace), sometimes worn as a hat-badge.


The Queen loaned it to Princess Elizabeth for her first visit to Canada in 1951. 

The Queen inherited it upon her mother's death in 2002, and in turn has since loaned it to the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge for her first visit to Canada with the Duke in July 2011. 


The Queen in Ottawa for the Canada Day celebrations in 2010 and the Duchess of Cornwall attending Remebrance Day events at the National War Memorial in Ottawa in November 2009.

I think we can safely expect it to make a reappearance on the autumn 2016 tour, although this is not the only brooch with a Canadian connection in the Queen's jewelry box (or, indeed, the only maple leaf brooch!), so we'll just have to wait and see!

 The Duchess of Cambridge wore the brooch three times during the 2011 tour.

The brooch measures 5.5 x 5 cm and is made of platinum set with baguette and brilliant-cut diamonds.  According to Hugh Roberts, author of the definitive The Queen's Diamonds, who examined the King's Privy Purse accounts, the brooch cost £300 5s and was purchased on 29 April 1939, just before the couple's departure.

Looking for a replikate? This one on Etsy is slightly smaller than the original but very pretty. Alternatively, I'm holding out for the Royal Collection to come up with a replica - they currently have around 10 replicas of the Queen's brooches available for sale, including the New Zealand Silver Fern as seen on Catherine, and I suppose they might think a Maple Leaf would prove popular ;-)