In just a few weeks, all eyes will be on Kate Middleton when she flies to New Zealand and Australia for her most exciting royal tour to date, with Prince William and little Prince George in tow. And as the Duchess of Cambridge pulls together her much anticipated tour wardrobe, Grazia has learned that in a dramatic break from her usual style she has commissioned high-end couture label Ralph & Russo to make her a gown.
The British brand – founded by engaged Australian couple Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo in 2007 – has a clientele of Middle Eastern princesses and A-listers such as Angelina Jolie and Beyonce? and, unlike Kate’s usual high-street haunts, their cocktail dresses start at £50,000. Yikes. ‘Kate visited Ralph & Russo’s boutique last month and said she was looking for inspiration for the tour,’ said a source. ‘She liked that they had Australian connections and has apparently given them specific instructions for a gown.’
Ralph & Russo looks [Getty]
This comes just weeks after it was reported that the Queen had banned Kate, 32, from wearing anything high street on the tour, which kicks off on 7 April. She apparently wants Kate to look ‘more regal’, with longer hemlines and more jewels than on her previous tours. The duchess has already reportedly got Catherine Walker, Temperley and Alexander McQueen on-board. ‘Kate is taking this tour very seriously,’ said a source. ‘She’s putting a lot of thought into what she wears and she’s opting for some quite expensive choices as a result.’
In 2012, it was reported that Prince Charles had footed the £35,000 bill for Kate’s working wardrobe that year. The source added, ‘Kate’s entire wardrobe for 2012 cost less than one of Ralph & Russo’s gowns! She’s really upping the ante and opting for higher-end designers than she would normally choose.’