lunedì 16 marzo 2015

Kate-Inspired Purchase Review: Stuart Weitzman for Russell & Bromley Muse Clutch

Here I am with a brand-new Kate item review! This week we're taking a closer look at the Duchess's navy suede "Muse" clutch by Stuart Weitzman for Russell & Bromley.

It's probably one of the most frequently seen bags of the Duchess's, and it's been on my wishlist for quite some time. Although, coming with a price tag of £255 (approximately €355 or $385), I'd admire it in the Russell & Bromley window display, never quite able to justify the purchase. After all, the Duchess may be able to go about her engagements carrying dainty clutch bags, but, let's face it, for the majority of us this type of bag is usually reserved for evenings or special occasions - for day to day wear I tend to carry around a large tote, and as much as I like them, there just aren't many occasions in my life that warrant the use of a clutch bag!
Therefore I was absolutely thrilled when Kate's Closet shared on her Facebook page an eBay listing for the real deal. Better still, the bag was offered for sale by the Sevenoaks branch of Oxfam GB, so by purchasing it one was even doing a good deed, as 100% of the sale benefited the charity.
Acquaring an original Kate item at a good price and helping a worthy charity? Count me in, please!
Cue some jittery few minutes right at the end of the auction to see if mine was the winning bid - and it was! Still not exactly dirt cheap at £167.70 (€233 or $253) plus shipping, this was still a significantly reduced price and, hey, it's for charity!

As I mentioned above, this is a well-loved bag of Catherine's. It's first appearance was in July 2012 at the London Olympics and it's been in use many times since.

Left: 31 July 2012, equestrian eventing competition on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Greenwich Park - Right: 3 August 2012, men's tennis quarter finals at the London Olympics.
Left: 12 September 2012, visiting the Rolls Royce factory in Singapore - Right: 23 April 2013, visiting Willows Primary School in Wythenshawe, Manchester, on behalf of Place2Be.

Left: 20 November 2013, attending the Place2Be Forum in Canary Wharf, London - Right: 9 April 2014, visiting Blenheim, New Zealand.

Left: 16 April 2014, departing Wellington, New Zealand, en route to Australia - Right: 17 April 2014, visiting the Blue Mountains, Australia.

Left: 25 April 2014, attending ANZAC Day commemorations in Canberra - Right: 10 June 2014, launching Britain's America's Cup bid at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.


Left: 18 June 2014, visiting Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire - Right: 5 August 2014: visiting the Poppies Swept Land and Seas art installation at the Tower of London.

 Left: 19 Januray 2015, three engagements in Kensington in aid of various charities - Right: 2 March 2015, attending the Goring Hotel's 105th birthday celebrations.
13 March 2015, service of commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral to mark the end of combat operations in Afghanistan.

Close-ups of the clutch with various outfits:

First thing to say, this bag is absolutely Amazing! This is my first ever Stuart Weitzman purchase and you really can tell it's a high-end product, made from soft, high quality suede.
It has a flap closure with a magnetic button fastening and a detachable navy leather strap. The interior is lined in the most gorgeous, black jacquard fabric with a rose decor and branded with the Stuart Weitzman logo. It's details like these, which we never usually get to see, that I love most!


The bag is approximately 10x26x4.5 cm, so more than roomy enough as clutch bags go, and perfect for carrying all your essentials on a night out. The detachable leather strap has a total lenght of approximately 70 cm, thus allowing a drop of about 28 cm.

The Muse remains available to buy at Russell & Bromley in navy suede as reviewed, black suede, black textured suede, blush patent leather, shimmering platinum fabric, shimmering glitter fabric and snake print patent leather in a selection of colours (mushroom, rainbow, blush and navy blue).
The Duchess, as well as in navy suede, owns it in black suede and brown suede (not currently available).

Black - Left: 8 November 2014, engagements in Wales - Right: 25 November 2014, visiting EACH Hospice in Norfolk.

Brown - Left: 21 February 2012, visiting Oxford Spires Academy School in her role as patron of The Art Room - Right: 8 December 2013, visiting the London offices of crime prevention charity Only Connect.

venerdì 13 marzo 2015

Afghanistan, a Service of Commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral

As those of you who've been following the blog for some time will know, I don't usually follow up day-to-day royal events with specific blog posts, but I made an exception for today's Service of Commemoration, which took place at St Paul's Cathedral in London to mark the end of combat operations in Afghanistan.

The Order of Service.

The service was attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by other senior members of the Royal Family, notably including Prince Harry, who himself saw active service during the Afghan war.

The Queen accessorised her turquoise ensamble (the hat is a particular favourite of mine!) with one of Queen Victoria's pearl and diamond brooches:

The Duchess of Cambridge was in a new navy wool coat by Beulah London (who confirmed she was indeed wearing one of their garments, the Chiara Wool trapeze overcoat in navy, which remain available for £650). It is entirely possible the dress she was wearing underneath, although it's impossible to say for sure as we got just a peek:

A new (sapphire and diamond?) necklace and matching earrings were debuted:

The Duchess completed her look with her Stuart Weitzman navy suede "Muse" clutch and (Cornelia James?) gloves:

I absolutely loved her look today! I thought it was just perfect for the occasion and the hat is on its way to become one of my all time favourite of hers!

 Prince Harry greeting his father at the entrance of the Cathedral.

The day's events culminated in a flypast of some of the current RAF, Royal Navy and British Army aircraft used in Afghanistan, which flew over St Paul's Cathedral at 12.25pm:

I'll leave you with one of my favourite photos of the day, of the Duke of Edinburgh gallantly supporting his wife down the Cathedral steps at the end of the service - aww! So sweet!

mercoledì 4 marzo 2015

Kate-Inspired Purchase Review: Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace Repli-Kate from AliExpress

Hello, everyone!
I'm finally back with my latest repli-kate review - I'm sorry this took a long time coming, but it's an incredibly busy time at work, and of course my real-life job has to take precedence.
First of all, this is as much a repli-kate purchase review as it is a repli-Queen (does the word even exist? I don't suppose it does!) review.
As most of you will probably be aware, the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace was, in fact, a wedding present for Princess Elizabeth in 1947 (more background on the necklace in my blog post here).

The Queen on the cover of Elizabeth - Reigning in Style by Jane Eastoe, in a 1951 photo by Dorothy Wilding.
The necklace was loaned to the Duchess of Cambridge for her appearance at the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Gala on 11 February 2014.

Incidentally, I must say that Jenny Packham gown has been paired with some amazing jewellery so far! Anyway, back to the matter at hand, earlier this year, a link to this great AliExpress find was shared on Facebook (apologies, as now I can't remember where exactly the original link appeared).

As I had a fancy dress Mardi Gras party I planned to attend dressed up as the Queen, I ordered one straight away. The necklace was $10.50 (approximately €9.00 or £7.00), including registered shipping with China Post Air Mail. Other shipping options are available at an extra charge. Using China Post, the necklace took about 3 weeks to arrive.


I was absolutely bowled over with the overall quality of the necklace when I opened the parcel!
The crystal part is amazingly well done and the crystals very sparkly (the photos don't do them justice). The only major difference with the original necklace is that the real Cartier piece has a chain of 38 brilliant-cut diamonds, whereas the AliExpress repli-kate doesn't have a crystal chain, but a faux pearl one.

This is, in fact, the only part of the necklace that denotes its $10.50 price tag, as you can tell the pearls are of the cheap variety. This would have been an all-round amazing piece had they used the same crystals for the main body of the necklace and the chain, although if you are deft with a pair of round-nose pliers the pearl part looks like it can easily be removed and substitued with something more of your liking.

On the whole, this is a purchase I definitely recommend if you like the Nizam necklace.  Very well made (the crystal part can easlily look like a $$$ piece, instead of a $ one), good customer service, tracking was provided...really nothing to complain about! Not sure how much wear you can get out of it except in a fancy dress or summer evening type of occasion, but that really is down to personal preference in terms of style of jewellery etc.
The same AliExpress store I ordered from has a version with blue stones and one with red, and I'll be ordering the blue one to wear in the summer - for $10.50, you can hardly go wrong!

And finally, this is me in full on regalia dressed up as HM for my fancy dress party! :)