There is definitely a brand-new glow surrounding the Duchess of Cambridge. Over the past few months, the mother-of-three has won praise from fashionistas after trading in her trusty nude court shoes and pretty outfits for more daring designers, edgy pieces and skyscraper heels. Despite widespread reports that this bold new look has been honed by Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey, HELLO! can reveal that, while the former Vogue staffer has given occasional advice, Kate's much-admired wardrobe continues to be the work of her long-time PA and stylist, Natasha Archer.
Natasha is on maternity leave following the birth of son Theo in December, but she planned outfits for the Duchess ahead of her time away and works behind the scenes as needed. "Natasha has been meticulously organised in her work, styling the Duchess despite her pregnancy and maternity leave," a royal source told HELLO! "She is incredibly loyal and does a great job."
PA and stylist, Natasha Archer, continues to style Kate
At the Baftas in February, Kate effortlessly stole the show in a white Grecian-style Alexander McQueen gown, her hair swept up into a Hollywood-style chignon. That same month she donned a jaw-dropping blush Gucci gown, which she paired with glittering Oscar de la Renta heels, at the 100 Women in Finance Gala dinner in London, while she later modelled a sparkling Missoni wrap dress for a visit to Northern Ireland with her husband, the Duke of Cambridge.
And it's not just clothes which have been updated. The 37-year-old's famously thick and lustrous brown locks have been teased into more youthful styles while her subtle makeup appears to have been updated with some new twists. And she obviously likes it: Kate has been carrying off her new style with a confidence that hasn't been seen before. Here at HELLO! we've spoken to a number of style and beauty experts who have given their valued opinion on why Kate is having a fashion 'moment'. Read more below…
Kate wearing a sparkling Missoni wrap dress for a visit to Northern Ireland
Hilary Alexander, editor-at-large for Hello Fashion Monthly and Trustee of the Graduate Fashion Foundation
"Kate is glowing – and she looks glorious. Now, with Prince George, five, Princess Charlotte, three, and little Louis coming up for his first birthday, she has re-emerged. Her look is more streamlined, the hemlines a little longer, the curls looser or sleeked into a chignon, the makeup fresher and luminous. Since the beginning of the year, she has made one dazzling appearance after another, shimmering in pale mint green Lurex by Missoni on the Royal visit to Northern Ireland, stunning in a one-shouldered white Alexander McQueen gown at the BAFTAS, and delighting royal-watchers in a fashion-forward, swathed-bodice Gucci gown in shades of rose and pink chiffon at the 100 Women in Finance Gala Dinner.
"She seems to be genuinely revelling in her clothes choices, switching from a pillarbox-red, double-breasted, military-style Catherine Walker greatcoat for the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey to a delphinium-blue Mulberry caped coat for a walkabout in Ballymena, to the favourite, but remodelled McQueen 'Violets' gown with a different neckline and little sleeves, for the National Portrait Gallery Gala, like the confident fashion chameleon she is."
"Kate is glowing – and she looks glorious"
Susan E Kelly, editor of the What Kate Wore website and Twitter
"I think the biggest factor impacting Kate's fashion choices and overall glow can be described with one term: self-confidence. The Duchess looks like she is at ease in her roles as a mother, a wife and a senior member of the Royal Family. This increased comfort zone is reflected in style choices that have a little more oomph, elevating some looks to another level. You see this in her decision to wear the Gucci pussy bow blouse 'backward,' with the buttons going down the front instead of the back as they are shown in Gucci's product photos.
"Another example is the re-worked Alexander McQueen gown seen at the 100 Women in Finance dinner, updated with cap sleeves and changes to the bodice. This is just the second time the Duchess has had a piece overhauled in this manner, something done by other royals including Diana, Princess of Wales. The previous occasion was the shortening of the Katherine Hooker coat she wore for her very first engagement with Prince William after the couple's engagement was announced. When attending this year's BAFTA Awards the Duchess was radiant, exuding an air of elegance in her one-shoulder Alexander McQueen gown. The difference at this year's awards was the way Kate carried herself, with an air of self-confidence beyond what we have seen at previous BAFTA events."
"Kate carried herself with an air of self-confidence"
Gayle Rinkoff, celebrity stylist
"It feels like Kate has come into her own in terms of her fashion sense. There is a quiet air of confidence about her and I think that comes with being a mum and getting to know and love your body as you get older. She is very aware of what works for her petite frame and although experimenting with new designs, is confident enough to recycle and rework clothes she has worn previously. I love this about her. She is not shying away from sustainability which seems to be the buzz fashion word at the moment. Overall it seems she is gaining confidence with colours, lengths and styles and ultimately exuding grown up glamour."
Royals greet BAFTAs winners:
Eilidh Smith, founder of Skinwork at Alex Eagle Studio
"Hair is the next really noticeable evolution, a lot of the warmth seems to have been removed and this really gives a much more modern look. We have seen her hairband style often – which looks great! It's a statement without being too much, balancing modern and classic.
"Catherine's skin is really glowing – it appears smoother, radiant and plumped – this could be from a new regime of skin care, integrating advanced ingredients such as Retinol or Vitamin C to stimulate cell turnover and collagen production. Professional treatments such as peels, LED light therapy combined with the home care regime are probably responsible for this glowing skin! Makeup has seen some more dramatic, bold looks on the eyes – the consistently smoky-lined eyes always look great – with light foundation and peachy cheeks allowing the glowing skin to be the real highlight."
"The consistently smoky-lined eyes always look great"
Ruby Hammer, celebrity makeup artist
"The Duchess of Cambridge is a very elegant and chic looking woman. She ALWAYS looks smart but perhaps a little stiff for her age although this seems to have changed recently. She appears more relaxed and modern and her makeup is certainly more flattering for her. Her skin is glowing and semi-dewy and not too matte, with no heavy cover and more real looking. Her cheeks are flushed with a glowing blush which is probably a creme as opposed to a powder.
"Her eyes are where there seems to be the most change. Her eyebrows have always been full and groomed but they seem to be spot-on now - not too thin but not heavy either. She seems to have ditched the black pencil in the waterline and gone for a tight-lined upper eyelash which is strong without being too harsh. She has even added a bit of pearl to the inner corners, especially at night-time events. This is finished off with lots of defined dark mascara on her eyelashes. Her lips are not too lined but a soft and neutral shaded, they are almost balmy with a hint of colour. All in all, she has a more natural and softer look that is very modern and way more flattering to her without losing the glamour factor."
"Her skin is glowing and semi-dewy and not too matte"
Fiona Brackenbury, Global Education Director Decleor
"Kate's skin is absolutely glowing and this could be due to several things; change in skincare, diet or hormones after her pregnancy. If she has made a skincare change, I would say that she has added in anti-oxidant skincare – it truly is a game changer when it comes to radiance, oxidisation is responsible for 80 per cent of skin ageing and causes the skin to look dull and devitalised."
Daniel Galvin, celebrity hair stylist
"Recently, it appears that Kate may have gone a shade or two darker, deeper and richer with her hair colour which is therefore emphasising her eyes and making them sparkle much more. In terms of style, I think she has had some long layers cut in which is encouraging her hair's natural movement and so giving a more elegant yet effortless look. She has movement in her colour thanks to added sun-kissed lights, which get lighter towards the ends, and this also helps create the illusion of volume."
Nicola Clarke, Creative Colour Director, John Frieda Salons
"Kate isn't doing a huge amount differently, she has made her hair colour a darker brown (previously it was a little more auburn). In terms of the type of colour, it looks like just a tint now, rather than a tint with pieces of balayage round the face. Kate's hair is looking super glossy and healthy, this could be taking supplements as well as regular hair glosses. Her hair is about the same length as she likes to have it, the fringe has now completely grown out and when styling her hair, she has scaled back the bouncy curls, which gives a more youthful yet groomed vibe."
The Duchess has always had fabulous hair
Siobhan Middleton, founder of Beattitude
"Kate has always maintained a slim, athletic figure and will no doubt have made a speedy return to the gym, but like all new mothers she will have had to make alterations to her diet and fitness regime in order to see results. Post-natal fitness is not so much about 'regaining' your pre-baby body, as it will have changed through pregnancy, but doing specific training that is progressive that will work to strengthen, tone and tighten your post-natal body.
"Diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) is a very common post-natal condition, which doesn't rectify itself within six weeks post birth, needs specific rehab training to regain a strong/flat core. Without this focus, no matter how much exercise you do you, will never achieve a flat stomach like the Duchess of Cambridge. There is no doubt Kate will have had access to the best advice and training but many gyms don't have enough support available to new mums."
"Kate has always maintained a slim, athletic figure"
Sarah Lindsay, personal trainer and three-times Olympian
"It's been a year since she had Prince Louis, but it takes some time for your hormones to settle after you've had a baby, which obviously play havoc with your appetite. During her pregnancies I don't think she gained excessive weight, which will obviously make it easier to pull back so hats off to her for keeping that under control. To keep it together when you're pregnant is really admirable because you're obviously eating for two. She's always been fit and active and done sport, which will help you get pregnant in the first place, as well as during your pregnancy, during the birth and definitely helping with your recovery and getting your body back to what it was pre-baby. Her history of exercise will have definitely helped that.
"What your legs look like comes down to a couple of things. There's fat loss and how much body fat you have on your legs and then the muscle tone that you have. Usually legs that look good come from a combination of both. If you have good muscle tone, then you'll be doing weight training even if it's light weights or body weights, but creating some resistance for your legs. The body a lot of the time will come down to food, so making sure that your legs are lean will ultimately come from what you eat. Exercise can help balance out the calories, but you'd have to do an awful lot. I'm sure she's very careful of her food and mindful of that because you never see her fluctuate or her weight go up and down. I would guess she's doing a mixture of cardio and weights, because in the pictures she looks very lean in her upper body but she still has some muscular shape and doesn't look like somebody who under-eats. She looks like she definitely works for it, it's not somebody who does nothing and is naturally very slim."
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