Kate Middleton is a true princess of fashion. Indeed, many watch her just to see what new additions she has made to her wardrobe, and a great deal of her outfits sell out from stores within days of her stepping out in them. But during her royal tour of India and Bhutan with Prince William in April 2016, Kate really outdid herself in the style stakes. Here are the dresses that got everybody talking.
Kate chose one of her favorite designers, Alexander McQueen, to custom-make the dress she wore on day one of the tour on April 10, 2016. The red patterned frock was beautiful but understated – appropriate, because the royals’ first stop was at The Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai to pay their respects to those who had lost their lives there in the 2008 terror attack.
After the visit to the hotel, Kate and William went to the Oval Maidan to greet some famous Indian cricketers and young sports enthusiasts. For this, Kate changed into a cute maxi dress made by Indian designer Anita Dongre. Dongre was little known outside India beforehand, and the publicity helped her massively. In fact, the designer’s website crashed from the attention just hours after Kate was photographed in the dress.
Then, at the end of her first day in India, Kate attended a Bollywood-inspired charity gala. And as befitting the theme, the princess’ outfit was also very Bollywood-esque – colorful, sparkling and exciting. The dress itself was made by British designer Jenny Packham, although the beautifully intricate beading was sewn in India. Kate’s gorgeous matching earrings, meanwhile, were made by Indian jewelry house Amrapali.
However, the ensemble Kate wore at the beginning of day two turned out to be a risky choice. But that wasn’t as much to do with the dress itself, a stylish white Emilia Wickstead number with a Peter Pan collar; rather, it was because an unexpected gust of wind blew the skirt up. Luckily, Kate flattened it down again just fast enough to avoid a Marilyn Monroe moment.
And Kate brought out a showstopper for that evening’s event – as well she might, because it was a birthday party for her grandmother-in-law, the Queen. There, she wore an intricately patterned two-piece from Temperley London. This outfit was one of the most expensive that she showcased on the tour; anyone seeking to purchase the same would be put back a cool $4,200.
Kate chose something a little less costly for her activities the next day. She wore a $64 red Glamorous maxi dress – a sensible choice, considering she would be spending much of her morning playing with young children from the Salaam Baalak Trust. And her earrings were even more affordable – a mere $10 and versatile enough to reuse. Go, Kate!
However, for the afternoon meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi – an important milestone in British-Indian diplomatic relations – Kate changed into something more formal. She wore a jade-colored lace dress from Temperley London, accessorized by Kiki McDonough earrings that had been designed to mark the arrival of Kate’s second child, Princess Charlotte.
Come evening, Kate and William went to a Bihu festival celebration to admire the traditional fireside performances. Kate wore an outfit that was light and breezy but still very eye-catching: a colorful floral patterned maxi dress from Detroit designer Anna Sui. And Kate-watchers seemed to have loved it, as the gown went on to sell out from online stores.
The following day, though, Kate put on pants, as she was going on safari; she chose an inexpensive skinny-fit pair from Zara. And the blouse she wore with them had a backstory: it had been gifted to her by Australian designers R.M. Williams during the royal tour of Australia in 2014. Finally, Kate topped her casual-chic look off with some Ray-Bans.
Somehow, Kate managed to switch her outfits even while out on safari, as once it came to feeding time for the baby elephants, she did her duty in a patterned Topshop maxi dress. And again, thanks to the princess’ sheer star power, the gown sold out almost instantly. The cuteness of the animals and tranquillity of the backdrop probably didn’t hurt, either.
The next day, Kate arrived in Bhutan and surprised everyone by wearing a dress she had been photographed in before. The gold coat gown in question, designed by Emilia Wickstead, had previously been seen at a ceremony in 2012. But seeing as it was a unique piece designed exclusively for the princess, she probably wanted to get more use out of it! This time, though, she jazzed it up with a matching belt.
It’s almost a given that if you’re on a royal tour, at some point you should at least make a nod to the traditional clothing of the country you’re visiting. And Kate did just this on her first day in Bhutan. When visiting the royal fortress, she wore a kira skirt created by Kelzang Wangmo, a local weaver; she paired it with a wool cape from French label Paul & Joe.
Meanwhile, at a dinner party that night with Bhutan’s Dragon King and Queen, the princess wore a stunning dress from Tory Burch, advertised on the company’s website as a “floral mesh gown.” And its delicate embroidery and red bead embellishments made it one of the crowning jewels of Kate’s India wardrobe. The shawl, which completed the look, was from Pickett London but was handmade in Nepal.
The next day, Kate stepped out in pants again, as she and William were hiking to the Tiger’s Nest monastery in the Himalayas. Kate wore some sensible shoes for the trek – Penelope Chilvers riding boots, old favorites of hers – and a linen blouse from Jaeger. The most important part of the outfit, though, was a stylish olive-green waistcoat from Really Wild.
Later on, Kate changed into a dress with special significance. The gown featured a poppy design – the national flower of Bhutan. Furthermore, it had been created by Beulah London, a company that provides employment for vulnerable women and seeks to remove them from the slave trade. The outfit was, therefore, both an appropriate and socially conscious choice.
But Kate left Bhutan in much the same way that she’d entered it – in a stylish retread of an earlier look. On this occasion, she wore an Alexander McQueen skirt and jacket last seen in 2012. Kate did however pair the ensemble with different accessories – one of them being a necklace given to her by Dragon Queen Jetsun Pema.
And before the tour came to an end, Kate and William made one last stop. The regal couple went to the Taj Mahal, where William’s mother Princess Diana had once famously been photographed, and had their own photos taken there. Kate didn’t wear the same colors as her late mother-in-law, however. Diana had chosen all red, while Kate paid tribute to her in her own way in blue and white.
Indeed, Kate’s dress perfectly showed off the sapphire ring that had once belonged to Diana and which William had given her upon their engagement. Not only that, but the gown matched the famous white of the Taj Mahal itself. And in order for Kate to honor her host country, it was created by Mumbai-born designer Naeem Khan. It was a perfect way to round off the tour.
All in all, then, Kate’s tour was a classic demonstration of how fashion and diplomacy mix. And it’s perhaps unsurprising that she was voted the top style icon of the U.K. not long after the India tour. What’s more, that’s an accolade she very much deserves.