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British RoyalsPrince & Princess of Wales

The Duchess of Cambridge visits the Royal Opera House’s Costume Department

The Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in a magenta Oscar De La Renta skirt suit today for a visit to the Royal Opera House. During her visit, the Duchess found out more about the scale of the costume department’s work and how different textiles influence various costumes. A Kensington Palace aide said: “The textile and manufacturing industry is an area of interest to The Duchess. Her Royal Highness’ great-great-grandfather, Francis Martineau Lupton, was a mill owner who ran the family’s successful textile manufacturing business, William Lupton & Company, with his three brothers.”

The costume department of the Royal Opera House is responsible for creating, refurbishing and conserving thousands of opera and ballet costumes every season, involving up to 600 costumes per production. Up to 10,000 costumes are used each year by both The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera House. Its historic costume collection has some 5,000 items, dating back to as early as 1861.

Fay Fullerton, The Royal Opera House’s Head of Costume, showed The Duchess ballet costumes during today’s visit to Covent Garden – which were specially designed to allow dancers to move freely. The Duchess met with The Royal Ballet Principal Dancers Lauren Cuthbertson, Laura Morera, Tomas Mock and Vadim Muntagirov who discussed some of the challenges of dancing in costumes. She was then able to watch a rehearsal of the Two Pigeons by the Principal Dancers. The Duchess was also shown the on-site dye shop where she learned about the different techniques including hand-painting and staining garments. In the dye shop digital printing is used to reproduce historic fabrics.

This is the Duchess’ second outing this week. Yesterday, she visited King Henry’s Garden Walk in Islington to see how the project brings people together through gardening and food cultivation. The visit included opportunities for the Duchess to speak to garden volunteers and members of The Garden Classroom team and to join children from nearby primary schools St Jude and St Paul’s in a session with The Garden Classroom (TGC), a national-award-winning outdoor learning charity.