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The Duchess of Cambridge’s outfits on the royal tour of Pakistan have drawn comparisons with those worn by Diana, Princess of Wales.
Some say Kate’s putting a modern twist on clothes worn by her husband William’s mother during trips to Pakistan in the 1990s. On day two of the visit Kate’s dress bore a striking resemblance to the blue floral pattern outfit Diana wore when she met young cancer patients in a Lahore hospital in May 1997.
On social media many have praised the Duchess for her style choices – and women have been sharing photos of their blue dresses.
But the designer behind some of the outfits says any similarity with what Diana wore is just a coincidence.
“As far as my designs for the Duchess are concerned, I didn’t have any particular idea or colour in mind,” Maheen Khan told BBC Urdu.
“I understood that she needed something simple, classical because she’s fond of elegance.”
She said she thought blue would “blend” with Kate’s fair complexion.
“I chose periwinkle blue – it’s a beautiful blue. And I thought the Duchess’s dress should reflect our Pakistani culture.”
So Ms Khan kept that in mind, and retained “the Pakistani silhouette like kurta, trousers and dupatta”, which didn’t go unnoticed.
The royal couple arrived in Pakistan on Monday evening, with Kate wearing a light blue tunic and trousers, apparently inspired by the loose shalwar kameez traditional to the region.
It reminded people of what Diana had worn on her visits to Pakistan.
On Tuesday the dark blue kurta and scarf courtesy of Maheen Khan was on display during a visit to an Islamabad school.
“It’s a matter of pride and pleasure for me that Kate wore a dress that I designed,” said Ms Khan, adding that she had had no direct communication with her.
Later in the day, the royal couple met Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“The Duchess wore a green coat shirt by Catherine Walker, white trousers designed by me and a green dupatta [scarf] by Satrangi. This is how Kate put together her ensemble. That’s why everyone calls her a stylish woman,” Ms Khan told the BBC.
Catherine Walker was one of Diana’s favourite designers.
“It is a matter of pride and pleasure for me that Kate wore a dress that I designed. I usually add two colours to my designed sketches, so I had in my mind that Kate would love this attire too.
“I used different types of fabrics in Kate’s costumes, including chiffon and raw silk. I thought Kate liked to wear simple, classic and elegant dresses.”
The duchess also won praise for wearing earrings by Pakistani designer Zeen. And high street “nude heels” are currently reported to be sold out in the UK in her choice of colour, beige, after she wore them on Tuesday morning.
Not everyone’s focused on the outfits, though.
The royal couple’s engagements on Tuesday evening caused traffic chaos and left many in Islamabad less than impressed – not least because auto rickshaws are banned in the capital, but a special exception was made.
Those who weren’t inconvenienced, however, pointed out the prince deserved praise, too, for his fashion choice, because he was wearing a local black sherwani, a knee-length jacket with matching trousers.
Maheen Khan has won many awards for her designs and work in the TV and film industry. She’s made clothes for many celebrities, among them Pakistan’s first female prime minister, who was an icon for women around the world.
“I designed a green shirt and a white dupatta for Benazir Bhutto, which still adorns her wax statute at Madame Tussauds in London,” Ms Khan said.
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So it’s perhaps no surprise royal staff got in touch before the trip.
“There is a shop in London where clothes designed by me are on display. Representatives from the British royal family went there and picked up my clothes and then contacted me,” Ms Khan said.
“Now people are crazily asking for the dark blue dress worn by Kate. So far I have received many orders for that dress and my team is working on new orders.”
Others who’ve worn her designs include Jemima Khan, the former wife of Imran Khan. Mr Khan, a former international cricketing star and now prime minister, was a friend of Diana.
But any parallel between the clothes worn by Kate and Diana is unintended.
“I didn’t even see the clothes Princess Diana wore on her visit to Pakistan. This is all just a coincidence,” says Ms Khan. I just thought about what would suit Kate.”
Interview by BBC Urdu’s Tarhub Asghar
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