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Kate Middleton’s Style in Southeast Asia

As much as the British royal family is supposed to represent Queen and country, Kate Middleton has become a bit of an international style icon. On most occasions her image is a representation of British sensibility, but on the Duke and Duchess’ recent visit to Southeast Asia, her outfits were heavily inspired by Asian fashion, and specifically Southeastern Asian fashion.  This decision is a reflection of two developments: the increasing role of Asian fashion in the global market, and the increasing open-mindedness of Britain towards Asian culture generally.

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Tour Southeast Asia - Day 3

Appreciating the South Pacific Culture
Although this was an official visit and not a personal holiday, the Duke and Duchess spent a significant amount of time appreciating local culture.  With local meals, dancing and ceremonies came local dress, local fashion and large, bright floral prints in excess. The royal couple stuck to locally inspired outfits. Although many criticized this decision as looking overtly touristy, it is important to note that this is perhaps one of the most iconic style concepts that the East has shared with the West, bold floral prints, and it only seems cheesy today because of the way that it has spread throughout the world to represent something bigger than local South Pacific island culture.

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Diamond Jubilee Tour - Day 8

Modernizing Local Flavor
While in the smaller islands this style remains a feature of more traditional clothing, in vibrant urban areas like Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore and Shanghai, this pattern motif has been thoroughly modernized and has been incorporated into designs of apparel that is current and trendy for nearly a decade. This combination of exoticism and vibrancy is one of the most important legacies the Asian fashion market has left on the international fashion stage, and its roots are in Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, etc.

East meets West
Kate was also caught sporting a series of outfits that designed by British and European designers but were consciously Asian inspired. These outfits included a kimono inspired dress in Singapore, a gold Malaysian inspired gown in Kuala Lumpur, and many bold, silk, large floral print dresses. These dresses and this style can be seen as an extension of the aforementioned spread of Asian fashion motifs and an amalgamation of European classic chic with Asian vibrancy and flavor.

Ten or twenty years ago a visit from the royal family would have included stiff black suits and starched white dresses, but today the rise of Asian fashion has allowed a cultural relationship to develop following the path of that forged by the international fashion market.

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