venerdì 20 gennaio 2017

Going to Great Lenghts to Obtain a RepliKate You Love

I'm sure it has happened to most of us replikaters to set our hearts on that particular item you just have to have! And since the early days of the Kate-mania, when replikates didn't sell out quite so fast and you could even get some great bargains, are long gone (heck, I got my Natalie clutch in the L.K. Bennett end of season sale months after Kate was first photographed carrying it. Current favourite Nina didn't make the winter sale but remains available at full price), nowadays a bit more sleuthing is usually required.

That's just what I set out to do when the Duchess was photographed going to church on the second Sunday of the year in a new piece by L.K. Bennett.

Twitter was awash with suggestions on Sunday afternoon as to which style exactly she was wearing, as there were several in the same print:

The main contenders were the "Sammi" blue silk scarf, which you can see in the tweet above, and the "Cami" printed bow blouse, although there were also a dress and even a skirt in the same print.

A close-up of the print:

Both the scarf and the shirt are 100% silk chiffon (the blouse, being very lightweight, is doubled at the front for modesty, which I've tried to show in the photo below). The print is described on the L.K. Bennett website as "a delicate dot print in hothouse hues", with a "seventies appeal that nods to AW16's retro revival".

This shows how sheer the back is. It's single-layer, as are the sleeves:

I thought the blouse would tie in very well with my existing working wardrobe, so set off looking for one in my size. I knew it wouldn't be easy as both the scarf and the blouse were sale items, already sold out online at L.K. Bennett when the IDs were confirmed.
After much messaging to and fro with some friends in the Kate community, I was able to locate one at Irish retailer Brown Thomas (remains available in UK size 16 at time of writing). The catch? Their shipping options are limited to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. With no way of having one forwarded to Italy, I continued with my search. 

I went over the list of L.K. Bennett European stockists with a fine tooth comb until I finally got lucky at Dutch department store de Bijenkorf. After all, what's the minor inconvenience of shopping at a Dutch-language-only website compared to getting the replikate item you're lusting after? Reduced from €235 to €115, there was just one remaining in my size (it remains available in EU size 38, equivalent to a UK 10), so I hurried to snap it up. De Bijenkorf is a chain of high-end department stores belonging to the same group that owns Selfridges and Brown Thomas, but they only offer shipping within the Netherlands and Belgium.

So, what's the resourceful replikater gotta do? Sign up for an account at FedEx Border Crossing, of course! It's one of very few parcel forwarding services that will provide you with a Belgian shipping address (this sort of service is usually limited to the US and UK, with few exceptions). By the way, a word of warning: I found the customer service at FedEx in this instance jokingly inefficient, although the actual shipping and delivery were fairly straightforward (took 3 working days from Belgium to Italy), with prices in line with companies that provide similar services (i.e.: not cheap! Shipping for the shirt was just under €50. I do wish stores would just provide worldwide shipping as standard, and we could get rid of the middleman!).

My experience at de Bijenkorf, on the other end, was superb: ordering was easy despite the language barrier and the shirt, shipped on Tuesday late evening, was delivered to my Brussels mailbox the following morning by 12 noon.

The blouse has branded mother of pearl buttons at the cuffs:

As you can see from the close-up, the fabric weave is quite visible, much like that of the "Addison" dress by the same brand. A label attached to the blouse explains that the garment has been digitally printed, "a process that involves the deposit of a pigment or dye onto the surface of the fabric". This makes the blouse rather delicate, as the yarns are liable to twist, showing the paler, non-dyed reverse, something that wouldn't happen with yarn-dyed fabrics. Again, it's the same technique used for the "Addison" dress.

Having seen the blouse in person, I'll admit I'm still very much on the fence as to whether Kate owns this or the scarf. Ultimately, after much comparing, I think she has the blouse: in real life the ties are very long, making the bow is very floppy when just hanging down, whereas in some of the pictures she seems to be wearing something that has quite a bit of volume to it. Then I came across this photo on WKW, and from that angle it looks decidedly like she's wearing the blouse, maybe with the bow tied double for added oomph. My conclusion is that the extra volume is probably due to the wind catching the bow, although we won't know for sure until she wears the garment again, which she hopefully will do in the future!

However, last night I came across an interesting viewpoint on Instagram: user sanddunesandpinetrees has come to the conclusion that Kate was wearing both items to church, and was photographed first without the scarf, then with it. I must say this latest theory would provide a very neat explanation for the visible differences in the pictures, so I like to think it may be correct!

So, what's your opinion on the matter? Do you think Kate has the scarf or the blouse, or indeed both? Did you get to buy either of them for your replikate collection?

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