April 29, 2012

{The First Anniversary}

["As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrate a year of marriage, Allison Pearson, writer for the UK's Telegraph, sees how the new 'Mrs Wales' has become part of the Firm." Excerpt below...click on title for the entire article.]

It's no surprise that in the course of her royal duties, from Canada to Catterick, Kate (or Catherine as we must learn to call her, though everyone forgets, even William) has shown the common touch. After all, until 20 minutes past 11 on that gladsome day, April 29 2011, she was a commoner herself. As the Archbishop of Canterbury pronounced William and Catherine man and wife, with the eyes of two billion people upon her, the 29-year-old daughter of former airline personnel from Bucklebury, Berkshire, joined an ancient, cantankerous institution that still runs according to rules that would make Queen Victoria feel at home.

The Duchess of Cambridge (terrible, frumpy title for a gazelle of a girl, but more of that later) has humanised and cheered up her new family simply by virtue of being herself. This is a royal who doesn't have to act normal, nice and straightforward because she is normal, nice and straightforward. If she shops in Reiss, Hobbs and LK Bennett, it's not a Marie Antoinette-does-the-high-street affectation; it's where she has always shopped. If she wears an outfit twice, and borrows a hat from her mother, that's what people do; and the trick of the new Wills'n'Kate monarchy, if they can pull it off, will be to remain royal while doing what people do. ~

April 27, 2012

{A Year of Fashion Following William & Kate's Wedding}

Westminster Abbey - April 29, 2011

To celebrate the first wedding anniversary of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Telegraph has a fun photo gallery with costume comments about the past year of Kate the Great -- lovely new duchess and friend of the fashion industry! (Photographs below are from Telegraph's gallery...click here for more.)


[Go to the Telegraph's photo gallery with fashion commentary about Kate.]

April 17, 2012

{The Lineage of Women}

[This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride ... it's taken from a chapter called "Longing for Love" ... and from a section called "What Do You Really Want?"... hmmmm. Topics and questions the book considers for all women ... stay tuned.]

Princess Diana’s story played a large role in the lineage of women, providing a unique view into the spirit of feminine mystery, the strength of one’s convictions and the dreams, desires and imaginings of all women. Once she stopped trying to manipulate her life and began trusting her heart, she became aware that many of her patterns were not working to bring her the life she wanted—the happiness she longed for. Once she got in touch with her spiritual path and could sense her life purpose, she felt more centered and her heart connection with the public soared. In spite of, because of, or on top of Diana's many complex emotional combinations—her struggles and imperfections (even if the public didn’t know the real story); her unique empathy with the young, the old, the wounded (even if it was because with them she felt comfortable, she knew their language); her warmth and kindness to some (even if she seldom showed it to her husband, members of his circle, or anyone who stole her spotlight)—Diana’s deeply feeling energy sent a mesmerizing vibration out into the world!

Diana’s life showed us that we don’t have to “get it right” to be effective when our hearts are open; and that the times we are closed down, acting small and ungenerous, are the times of our greatest lessons that give us the opportunity to pause and open our hearts again. Once Diana matured a bit, hers became a life that shows we can turn those things we despaired and suffered about into opportunities of grace. “The transition from deflated Princess of Wales to Diana the Good” began!  “[Diana] settled down to doing serious, constructive charity work [and in doing so] found meaning through suffering,” Lady Colin Campbell shared in her 1992 biography. “Beneath the beautiful packaging lies a tender heart and it has made a great deal of difference to the quality of lives of very many people throughout the world.”

As the Princess of Wales put her attention on others and was enlivened by the joy, satisfaction and rewards of service, she also tapped into the essence of the lineage of women. “With her customary thoroughness, Diana approached her newly awakened interest with dogged determination and commendable efficiency. ‘She picked her areas carefully—babies, old people, women, AIDS—all areas that were notoriously difficult and unsympathetic until she got involved with them,’” Lady Campbell added with insights from WomenAid founder, Pida Ripley. Diana’s sense of inadequacy moved her toward her real passion; her new passion grew into a life purpose; her fears became her power points; and her power gave her direction, her way home.

The lineage of women is full of courageous souls who used their fears to propel them forward – inward - outside of themselves into service to others. I love Marianne Williamson’s now famous passage on fear from her A Return to Love book:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Diana indeed liberated thousands. What if one purpose of Diana’s life on a soul level had her complete an old, tired cycle of survival for all women? What if her life established a fresh universal era that began a new lineage for women; a lineage of confident and empowered self-sufficiency that included the innate ability to give and receive unconditional love—to speak with kindness and love, to listen with full attention? What if? What if women retained their mystery yet lost their cynicism? Imagine what that would be like, what it would feel like for all the little girls you know to be able to grow up in a culture with those qualities as the normal way of being for girls and women. No defending yourself, or depending on others like a crutch, or pretending to be someone else—just being you.

If whatever you’re up to doesn’t serve your vibrant health and well-being; if it isn’t nurturing your best self, your inner child, your budding free-spirit, your wise crone, or whatever part of you that needs pampering; if your listening and speaking is not deeply attentive to the other person; or if every word and action is not coming from love—then choose something else! Shift your listening, then your speaking changes, and everything else shifts.

What do you really want? Take a deep, long, slow, luscious breath and let it out slowly, languidly, easily…then answer like your life depends on it. (And it just might.) Or as the Law of Attraction would advise: “You can begin feeling whatever you want (even if it’s not there)…the universe will correspond to the nature of your song.” So sing out loud like a rock star; strut your stuff like the Rockettes; hug people with your whole body; and love each and every moment like it’s your last! ~

["The Lineage of Women" is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride ... it's taken from a chapter called "Longing for Love" ... and from a section called "What Do You Really Want?"... hmmmm. Topics and questions the book considers for all women ... stay tuned.]

April 7, 2012

{Dress of the Year 2011}

The Bath Fashion Museum's "Dress of the Year" for 2011 is the wedding gown that closed Alexander McQueen's Autumn-Winter Paris fashion show a few weeks before the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton last year. The collection was designed by Sarah Burton, creative director for the McQueen design house, and featured a finale of stunning white wedding gowns. The ornately hand-beaded group of gowns, including the won that became the "Dress of the Year," made it possible for Sarah Burton to keep the design of the future Duchess of Cambridge's royal wedding gown a secret!

Read the intriguing story below by Jessica Vince that appeared in the UK's Grazia Daily on 3 April 2012:

Cast your minds back to March last year when Alexander McQueen's Autumn Winter 2011 show closed during Paris Fashion Week amid a cloud of frothy dresses. At the time, we wondered whether it was a coincidence that the collection featured white gowns with full skirts, crystal-embroidered bodices and billowy sleeves of chiffon fit for a royal bride just one month before Kate Middleton was due to wed her prince.

Because you'll remember it was at this very time that Royal Wedding frenzy had reached fever pitch with persistent rumours that Sarah Burton, Creative Director at Alexander McQueen, was secretly working on the Duchess' dress. On April 29th, we found out that indeed she was - but what we didn't know is that the matchy-matchy collection was no coincidence. In fact, Burton planned the all-white finale as a crafty cover-up.

 Grazia's Paula Reed has discovered that Burton purposefully featured a bridal-esque section so that there would be a reason to order in exquisite white fabric - and tons of it - without raising suspicion at the British fashion house. Isn't that genius? The admission came from Hamish Bowles, US Vogue's Editor-at-Large, who was unveiling the Dress of the Year at the Bath Fashion Museum last week.

'The white and ivory dresses in this collection were created as a cover for The White Dress Project - namely the wedding dress that Sarah Burton created for Catherine Middleton's marriage to Prince William - the most anticipated, talked about, and ultimately, applauded dress of the year,' he revealed.

As for the Dress of the Year that Mr Bowles chose? It's the glorious Ice Queen creation that closed McQueen's Autumn Winter 2011 spectacle. The gown features an ivory tulle bodice fully embroidered with individually crafted 3D organza feathers and a skirt consisting of 31 panels hand embroidered with miniature eagle motifs. Wowee, that's exactly what you need to throw your workers off the scent, no?    
And not only did Sarah Burton manage to fool us, she even bluffed Anna Wintour. According to Mr Bowles: 'Anna looked Sarah in the eye - an experience that would jelly the marrow of bigger people - and asked, "Are you designing Kate Middleton's dress?" and Sarah said, "I am not designing the dress."' Blimey, what a brave lady! 'So Anna was telling everyone, "Sarah told me she's not doing the dress, so she's not doing the dress." Now Anna admits Sarah did an amazing job.'

Indeed she did. Kate Middleton's wedding dress is almost certainly the best-kept fashion secret, like, EVER, and we know Burton went to great lengths to keep her name, as well as the design, under wraps. Admittedly, Grazia Daily found it hard to believe that as the McQueen seamstresses stitched masses of white gazar, they didn't twig it was for The Dress - and now we know they believed it was all for the Autumn Winter 2011 collection.

As Mr Bowles says: 'Nowhere are Sarah Burton's unique skills better exemplified than in this magnificent dress that dazzlingly updates the tradition of the robe de bal, looking back to the crinolined Second Empire creations of Charles Frederick Worth and the mid-century masterworks of Christian Dior, but with a cut, technical treatments, and embellishments that are uniquely twenty-first century.'

'It is truly a dress of exquisite beauty,' Bath Fashion Museum Manager, Rosemary Harden, says. 'This is what fashion is all about. All the craftsmanship, expertise and vision coming together in this wonderful dress which is now on show for everyone to see.' 

Yes, the jaw-dropping dress, together with a selection of previous winners, is now on display at Bath Fashion Museum - and we say it's well worth the trip. ~

Vogue's Hamish Bowles and his pick for "Dress of the Year 2011"

[Article by Jessica Vince from the Grazi Daily, 3 April 2012.]