Kate revealed that her daughter is “very keen” on ballet during a tour of the Royal Opera House where she discussed her passion for textiles and costume design.
Kate made a special mention of her daughter as she thanked a member of the ROH team and told how Charlotte had enjoyed the “little introduction” and “been very keen ever since”.
It is understood that Kate was referring to a trip she made with her daughter to the Royal Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House last year.
Kate, who’s also a ballet fan herself, brought her little girl to watch a rehearsal ahead of the opening night back in December.
Today Kate wore a magenta Oscar De La Renta skirt suit, worth £2,736, with opaque tights and black heels complete with a gold buckle detail by Rupert Sanderson.
Previously she wore the suit, from the Autumn 2015 collection, for a mental health conference in February 2017.
Her small black leather handbag by Aspinal of London costs £495.
Kate was greeted by the ROH chief executive Alex Beard on her arrival, who then accompanied the Duchess throughout her tour of the organization’s Covent Garden base.
The visit was an opportunity for the Duchess to discover more about the huge scale of the Costume Department’s work and how different textiles influence various costumes.
Kate has a “very specific interest” in the use and manufacture of textiles and her visit to the ROH was beginning of a personal project to “explore the industry and through lots of learning opportunities”.
“The Duchess has a very specific interest with all the work done at the Royal Opera House and her visit is a perfect opportunity for her moving forward to explore the industry at large.
“Over the next few months she will be developing her interest in this industry, through learning opportunities and meeting industry experts and obviously her patronage with the Victoria and Albert Museum, which holds the national collection of textiles is very dear to her.
“Much as she values this and her passion for photography, for example, this is the start of an area that she is going to focus on.
“Part of the learning that she is going to be doing in this area and she’s very interested in.”-a palace aide said.
The Duchess’s passion is understood to originate from her discovery that her great-great-grandfather, Francis Martineau Lupton, was a mill owner who ran the family textile manufacturing business, William Lupton & Company, along with his brother’s.
During her tour through the corridors of the ROH, she met the head of costume Fay Fullerton MBE in the Pattern Room.
Ms Fullerton showed Kate a fantastic display of materials, illustrations and designs from the ballet Swan Lake.
That department is responsible for creating, refurbishing and conserving thousands of opera and ballet costumes per season.
Up to 10,000 costumes are used every year by the artists from The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera House.
It has also built up a historic costume collection of more than 5,000 items, including costumes dating back to 1861.
A lot of the costumes are used many times since they take good care of them.
It takes the entire revival workroom around 1,500 hours to refurbish the costumes.
“Just to give you an indication of how specialised we are here, we have 108 full-time staff but we are supported by 40 to 60 casual staff and work experience. We also do apprenticeships at every department.”-Ms. Fullerton said.
Kate asked: “And are they coming from the fashion school?”
Ms Fullerton replied: “They are coming from everywhere. It’s a big team but for the size of what we have to do it is about right. We do nearly 42 shows a year for the main stage and then we also work with Linbury Theatre.”
The Linbury is the smaller more intimate stage at the ROH. It has been extensively redesigned and refurbished as part of the ROH’s Open Up project.
Kate was then shown some finely crafted costumes from Swan Lake with Ms Fullerton saying some costumes “will survive at least 30 years, it’s such an investment”
“Do they have to have constant touching up and repairs?”-asked Kate.
Ms Fullerton said: “Well they are so well made there might be the odd repair due to the dancers handling them, but overall they are incredible creations that stand the test of time.”
Pointing to an incredibly detailed long black dress, Kate gestured to the seemingly heavy garment, asking: “How do you move and dance in it? Is it all based on a corset or a strong corset?
Ms Fullerton replied: “No because it’s a ballet dancer that will wear this. It’s quite light, it’s lighter than it looks. There are lots of little secrets that you can’t see, like stretch panels somewhere that you can’t see. It’s really important that you can move, maybe 20 or 30 years ago it was heavy, it’s not any more, we really take it into consideration.”
Next Kate met with Morag Beaton in the stock room of the ROH who showed her shelves of hundreds of fabrics that can be dyed to suit the needs to the costume department.
Ms Beaton explained how different departments “work closely every day with each other” to achieve the very best results.
After that, the Duchess was taken to the dye department where the staff showed her how they employed different techniques including dyeing, hand-painting, staining garments and digital printing.
ParveenBanga, the head of the department, showed her a digital printed which allows the team to reproduce historic fabrics no longer available.
“It’s just amazing the intensity about it.”-said the Duchess.
Kate was also introduced to Catriona Paterson, head of ladies workroom, and Jane Dalgarno, head of men’s workroom
“I saw in here earlier, it amazing seeing everyone with the fashion cuttings.”-said Kate.
While looking at a costume that was partially constructed, she added: “When you are seeing and designing from images, what I’m always fascinated by how to cut a pattern that’s got pleats, it that from experience?”
Ms Paterson replied: “A little bit of training and lots and lots of experience.”
Before leaving, Kate spent half an hour meeting Royal Ballet Principal Dancers Lauren Cuthbertson, Laura Morera and Vadim Muntagirov who explained how various factors such as lighting, interaction and movement influence the designs of their costumes.
Before watching dancers rehearsing the romantic Ballet The Two Pigeons, director of the Royal Ballet Kevin O’Hare explained the context of the performance.
“This ballet, it’s Frederick Ashton so it’s very sweet, it’s a very simple story.
“It’s these two are in love and then the gipsies come to town and then he decides he might like a bit of that sort of gipsy (laughing) so then he goes off with the gipsy and then he realizes that his heart really lies with this one here (laughing).
“It sort of harks back to similar times and it’s very sweet and it’s lovely and it’s everything Ashton is about, sort of lovely romantic stories.
“But the worst thing about it is we actually have two pigeons in it as well, live pigeons.”
The Duchess said: “Oh amazing. Are you find with birds? Well, that’s good”, to which dancer Laura Morera replied jokingly and gesturing at Vadim Muntagirov: “He’s like a pigeon whisperer.”
At the end of the performance she exclaimed: “Just incredible, thank you so very much.”