The Duchess of Cambridge’s back-to-school lesson in making your Zoom buys work for real-life

Kate's dress shows support for a brand which was plunged into crisis by lockdown

During lockdown, the Duchess of Cambridge debuted an array of new outfits which were distinguishable only by their neckline; there was the tennis print player print dress for a call with Andy Murray, a pretty floral M&S frock (or was it a top?) for dialling in to a school assembly and a scallop-edged Sandro top for a Zoom with helpline volunteers. 

Another standout debut was Beulah London’s Calla tea dress, a beautiful design with lace-trimmed sleeves, gathered bust stitching and a modern midaxi length. Of course, lots of these elements were nowhere to be seen when Kate appeared on a tiny window in a split screen recording to mark Mental Health Awareness Week. 

So it was only right that she gave the dress a proper outing when she made her first post-summer appearance in London on Tuesday. Visiting a bakery, a job centre and a mosque to learn about the repercussions of Covid-19, Kate teamed the Indian floral printed £550 dress with new accessories; a pair of Ralph Lauren £520 tan heels and £85 rhodochrosite earrings by Missoma. During the indoor element of some of the visits, she added her £15 Amaia Kids mask. 

The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a Beulah dress and Amaia Kids mask Credit: Reuters

Not only was the visit a chance to show the dress in all its glory, but the choice was emblematic, too, of the difficulties faced by the fashion industry during the pandemic.

Beulah has long been one of Kate’s favourite brands, one she has worn consistently since 2011. Founded by her friends Lady Natasha Rufus Issacs and Lavinia Brennan, the label coupled designs perfect for the high society set with a charitable element, giving a portion of their proceeds to anti-trafficking causes and employing women who had been victims of abuse. Zara Tindall, Holly Willoughby and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark are among its other famous fans. 

The Duchess of Cambridge wearing the Beulah dress as she took part in a Heads Together broadcast in May Credit: Chris Jackson

However, during lockdown the business entered into voluntary liquidation and its website was inactive for some time. Although the Duchess carried on wearing the label, it was unable to benefit from the ‘Kate effect’ as a result of the publicity she created. 

The brand is now trading once again, with Kate’s Calla dress and the £525 Shalini dress which she also wore in the summer back in stock and available to purchase. 

With more royal engagements expected in the coming weeks, the Duchess’s fashion strategy will be closely scrutinised. During lockdown, she opted for cheerfully bright buys, often from her existing repertoire or affordable labels. Over the summer, she showed support for British brands like Emilia Wickstead and Suzannah whose businesses undoubtedly suffered because of this year’s cancelled weddings and events. 

Kate wearing Beulah to a tea party in July Credit: PA

Kate and William are expected to play a leading role in the Royal family’s response to the Covid crisis, especially with visits to affected communities. With the fashion industry, from high street to leading designers, having suffered in recent months, the Duchess’s clothing choices could form a powerful part of that response.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit the London Bridge Jobcentre Credit: PA

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