Belfast Telegraph

Was Duchess Kate’s dress just too daring for future Queen? Northern Ireland fashion watchers give their verdict

By Christine Carrigan

It's the dress that sparked a right royal debate - but the Duchess of Cambridge's decision to take the plunge with a stunning Marchesa gown has got the thumbs-up from Northern Ireland fashionistas.

The Duchess stirred debate when she stepped out on Wednesday night in one of her riskiest outfits to date.

The usually conservative but stylishly-dressed royal attended a state banquet, which was held in honour of the King and Queen of Spain, in a low cut number.

Kate donned a dusty pink/lilac full-length gown, sporting a deep-plunging neckline, created by British-founded brand Marchesa.

Although the dress was balanced out with sheer, long-sleeved lace, incorporating the typical style and sophistication that we have come to associate with the Duchess, Kate once again made a statement with her wardrobe.

Reactions were mixed, with some considering it a fashion faux pas for the future queen.

One Twitter user remarked: "It looks like someone else dressed her - not her style at all."

The outfit was complemented by the Queen's diamond and ruby encrusted Bandeau necklace, which was matched with pearl drop earrings and Princess Diana's tiara, prompting another to tweet: "This opulence in times of austerity is reminiscent of pre-revolutionary France. Anachronistic. Obscene."

However, the dress was given the seal of approval by Belfast's own fashionistas.

Maureen Martin, owner of Martin Model Management, has 35 years' worth of experience in the fashion industry.

She said: "Kate was lovely, I think that she looked fabulous in the dress, the neckline was great on her."

Commenting on the big debate on just how low a royal's neckline should go, Maureen added: "After all, Diana wore a revealing dress to one of her first dinners with Charles.

"How low really depends, but it worked for Kate."

Patricia Grogan, who is managing director of The Cut women's tailoring in Belfast, said: "A low neckline depends on the person who is wearing it. If the bust is too big or too mature it can look vulgar.

She added: "I think Kate is a young woman in great shape. Her dress is racy for a royal, but why not? Modest or modern? Give me modern any day."

Amid the praise from some online, one common theme was that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are renowned for bringing the royals into the 21st century, leading some to question why Kate shouldn't dress like a 21st century woman?

Northern Irish Style blogger Louise Vance said: "My personal opinion is that it was a beautiful gown fit, for a modern princess.

"Yes, it was low, but it was still tastefully designed and appropriate for her age.

"Kate is a modern princess and she should reflect a modern woman, and should be allowed to push boundaries."

Louise added: "At the end of the day, it is down to individual body shape.

"There was nothing vulgar about Kate's cleavage in that dress.

"I know that Kate is a princess and people look up to her, but we have to trust the royals as public figures, to know what kind of image they want to put out there.

"I think that Kate is getting an unfair backlash for a dress which she absolutely rocked."

Kate is not the first royal who has dared to bare some flesh.

Back in 1981, a then 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer wore a plunging black taffeta gown to her first official royal engagement with her fiance Prince Charles.

The gown earned the late princess the nickname Daring Di, promoting her as a royal revolution and she went on to win the hearts of the nation.

According to the fashionistas of Belfast, as long as the neckline is tasteful, and nothing vulgar is on display, then a plunging neckline is more than welcome on modern royals. Katherine Farries is a personal stylist at Victoria Square who has worked on film productions in Northern Ireland.

She said: "I thought that it was very classy and very elegant - had it been strapless, backless and with a slit up the front, then maybe it would have been inappropriate.

"Kate is a fashion icon, a modern woman and a lot of people look up to her; she's also young, and it is important for her to dress her age, and keep up with trends."

"Kate wasn't vulgarly displaying her chest.

"As long as everything else is covered up, I don't see the problem with a low cut dress."

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