Faye Clayton discusses the stand-out pieces within the Duchess of Cambridge‘s Pakistan tour wardrobe.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton has recently returned from a five-day tour of Pakistan, the first royal visit of thirteen years. During this time, the royal couple William and Kate met with prime minister Imran Khan, greeted local school children, visited the Chitral glacier to highlight the effects of global warming amongst other diplomatic activities. Whilst fashion may seem trivial in the global scheme of national relations, it is important. The clothing chosen by the royals make statements of respect and cultural awareness. Many people, including myself, have celebrated Kate’s stylistic approach to the tour; however, I acknowledge that I am writing as someone who is not Pakistani.
Now for the outfits. Kate began the tour with a nod to Princess Diana and the ensemble she wore on her royal trip to Pakistan in the nineties. The duchess donned a beautiful blue dress designed by British couture brand Catherine Walker, with matching blue trousers. Whilst it was designed by a Brit, the ensemble seemed inspired by a shalwar kameez, a traditional Asian combination dress. To meet the Prime Minister, Kate donned another dress designed by Catherine Walker, a clear favourite by the royal. Importantly, Kate added to the look with Pakistani labels, such as trousers from Maheen Khan, earrings from Zeen and a dupatta from Bonanza Satrangi. It is highly significant that the royals chose these national Pakistani brands, as the use of patronage allowed for the brands to be elevated to an international platform. Kate deliberately infused her typical British style with traditional Pakistani elements, creating a look that she clearly felt confident in. Beloved British label Jenny Packham designed her breath-taking emerald green dress for the arrival of the reception hosted by the British Commissioner of Pakistan, which was accessorised with earrings from luxury Pakistani couture brand Onitaa.
On their trip, the royal couple travelled north of Pakistan, to the Hindu Kush mountain in Chitral to visit the glacier and highlight the pressing global issue of climate change. During this, the royals were presented with the traditional Chitrali hats and white coats, which were also given to Princess Diana during her stay in 1991. The next day in Lahore, the Duchess donned a white shalwar kameez by Pakistani designer Gul Ahmed, which was embroidered with jasmines, the national flower of Pakistan. This was paired alongside a Maheen Khan shawl and a quintessentially British Mulberry clutch. There were many other striking outfits throughout the tour, all combining British and Pakistani style.
It is clear that Kate’s looks were culturally conscious and therefore ultimately came across as respectful. The Duchess showcased to the world how fashion can be utilised effectively as a tool of diplomacy, as her garments spoke an unmistakable message. Every element of her ensemble was deliberate, even down to her shoes and earrings. Whilst there was still a heavy prevalence of traditional British brands such as Jenny Packham and Catherine Walker, the duchess’ stylist ensured she was still donning traditional Pakistani fashion and sporting local brands. The dresses were simple yet elegant, and have been almost entirely admired on social media. Her looks didn’t seem to appropriate local fashion and mould it into an uncomfortable British piece, but rather embrace traditional custom. On top of this, the nod to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana is a heart-warming touch to a seemingly highly successful trip.