William, Kate, Catherine Walker & the Élysée Palace

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Has a greater tragedy than having a busy workday fall on the same day the Duchess of Cambridge arrives in Paris ever befallen anyone? Probably not. I’m catching up now, so bear with me.

Kate and William apparently left straight from their engagement with the Irish Guards earlier today for the airport to fly to Paris, Kate’s hairdresser, Amanda Walker, changing Kate’s hair from the earlier updo to her signature curls on the plane. Upon landing the couple were chauffeured to the Élysée Palace, home of the French president, where they were officially welcomed by President François Hollande.

Kate was still wearing her Catherine Walker from the Irish Guards ceremony, which I think caused some disappointment (myself included). There was something about the idea of Kate landing in Paris, for the first time as duchess, wearing something that really wow’ed. However, at the same time, there was something kind of nostalgic about her continuing to wear her green Catherine Walker coat dress.

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I’ve always been slightly surprised by Kate’s wearing of Catherine Walker at all, given its association with Diana, Princess of Wales. She first debuted the brand during the Canada/US tour in 2011, shortly after marrying into the British Royal Family, which struck many as a clear allusion to her late mother-in-law. She, and William to a certain extent, have made this nod on a number of occasions, clearly making the statement that Diana isn’t to be forgotten, but Kate, more often than not, does it through fashion, which isn’t unfitting.

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I’ve no idea what others think, but when I first saw news that Kate had continued to wear her new Catherine Walker coat dress for her landing in Paris I thought less of the tight itinerary (which was very much a factor, granted) and more of showcasing one of Diana’s favorite designers. I like to think it was at least a dual consideration, and if it was, it was both appropriately respectful and subtle given that the couple have appeared for the first time in the city in which Diana tragically died 20 years ago.

William and Kate met with President Hollande inside the Palace where varying degrees of French were spoken. According to reports, Kate speaks no French, while William is conversational on a good day. No judgment from me; I studied French for years in  high school and college and have lost nearly all of it.

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Apparently Presidnet Hollande asked about William’s trip to Verbier and William acknowledged the past week’s fallout with a wink and a smile. And I have to say, I respect that – I wasn’t a big fan of the move on William’s part, but I do appreciate a good sense of humor.

And by the way, Kate looks just fine. She may be an incredibly good actress, and if she is, good for her, but I have a feeling after nearly two decades together, she’s fairly confident in William’s affection.

Disappointment in the lack of a costume change aside, there’s another reason why I ended up liking Kate continuing to wear this coat dress: the practicality of it. Though Kate’s certainly not the only royal woman to re-wear her clothes, the attention paid to her fashion obviously means it’s more remarked upon. Something about her making the practical choice to just switch her hair style feels very vintage Kate Middleton.

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