Britain’s First Lady of style

Normal, Weekender

The National, Friday, 27th May 2011

SHE may be a new hand at the fashion game, but the Duchess of Cambridge won the battle of the first ladies in another high street dress yesterday.
Kate’s £175 Reiss dress caused such a frenzy after she appeared in it to meet Barack and Michelle Obama at Buckingham Palace that the retailer’s website crashed.
She eclipsed first lady Mrs Obama and Samantha Cameron – who both opted for expensive designer labels – in a bandage-style Shola dress.
Reiss shops across the country were selling out last night and an assistant at the Kensington High Street store said 20 dresses were sold online within two minutes of Kate’s appearance. A spokesman for the firm described it as ‘Shola-mania’.
Emerging fashion icon Kate has resolutely stuck to off-the-peg outfits and has worn Reiss on several occasions, including for her engagement portrait.
David Reiss, founder and MD of the company, told the Daily Mail: ‘We are thrilled that Kate continues to be a customer of Reiss, and that she has chosen one of our dresses for such an important occasion.’
Her low-key approach was in marked contrast to Mrs Obama, who sported two designer outfits – the first a patterned prom-style dress by Barbara Tfank, worth at least £1,400, and the second by Roksanda Ilincic, which she wore to visit Downing Street, costing £815.
 Mrs Cameron loyally sported home-grown talent in the form of an embroidered silk dress by Peter Pilotto – currently on sale in Harvey Nichols for £2,360, but borrowed for the occasion to promote the British designer.
The only fly in the ointment was U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who committed something of a faux pas by arriving for the official lunch at Buckingham Palace wearing unflattering three quarter length trousers.
Although there is no official dress code, ladies are expected to wear a smart skirt or dress.
Yesterday’s encounter at the palace marked the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first official duty as a fully fledged royal couple.
They spent 20 minutes with President Barack Obama and his wife – twice as long as scheduled – shortly after they had been greeted by the Queen at the start of their three-day state visit.
Last month, to the surprise of many, the Obamas were not invited to the royal wedding, a decision viewed by some as a snub. St James’s Palace insisted at the time that no offence was intended; the invitation simply wasn’t forthcoming as the wedding was not a formal state occasion.
Judging by the warmth of their meeting yesterday, no offence was taken. Indeed, the Mail understands that the Obamas have already privately given a ‘substantial’ donation to the charitable gift fund the couple set up in lieu of a wedding list.
At yesterday’s historic meeting Kate, looking tanned following their ten-day honeymoon in the Seychelles, appeared as elegant as she was for the wedding. Apart from her priceless engagement ring, which once belonged to Princess Diana, her jewellery was as low-key as her outfit.
Her look was finished by a plain black Maud clutch bag by Anya Hindmarch Bespoke and matching heels from another high street store, LK Bennett.
William spoke to the President about his job as an RAF search and rescue pilot, while Kate and Mrs Obama got down to some ‘typical girly chat’, particularly about the wedding.
Both the Obamas are said to have watched the ceremony on television and a source said: ‘Like most women Mrs Obama wanted to know all about it. She and Catherine had a good chat.’  – Daily Mail UK