Recreating the 2002 Kate Middleton Fashion Show on ‘The Crown’: We had Kylie blasting out of the speakers

In the rich tapestry of Britain’s royal history, few moments stand out like the one involving a see-through dress. It was almost destined that the iconic image of Kate Middleton making a bold appearance in a student runway show in 2002 would take centre stage in the concluding episodes of Netflix’s The Crown, released today.

The sixth and final season of Peter Morgan’s drama unfolds in two parts. The first part, released last month, delved into the weeks leading up to Princess Diana’s death and her connection with Dodi Fayed in 1997. The second part catapults us to Prince William’s days at St Andrews University and the early stages of his romance with Kate Middleton. Here enters the see-through dress.

Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton Image credit: glamour

Recreating the 2002 Kate Middleton Fashion Show on ‘The Crown’

Meg Bellamy, the 21-year-old actress portraying a teenage Kate Middleton in the series, shares her excitement, saying, “It felt really exciting to recreate such an iconic dress in Catherine’s history.” Strutting down the runway to Moloko’s seductive 2000 track, “The Time is Now,” Bellamy embodies Kate’s confidence, aware that William, still a friend at this point, is watching in the crowd of cheering students.”I felt apprehensive about wearing it because of its sheerness, but on the day, Erik Richter Strand (the director) and Polly Bennett (the movement coach) created a supportive and empowering environment, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.”

Beyond the dress, the scene holds deeper significance. The St Andrews charity fashion show is ingrained in royal romance lore, believed to be the catalyst for William and Kate’s love story. This is precisely how The Crown portrays it, capturing William’s reaction as he sees his then-friend gracefully striding down the catwalk in the transparent garment. At that moment, he decides that this is the young woman he envisions as his future wife.

However, translating this iconic moment to the screen was not a straightforward task. Sid Roberts, part of The Crown’s award-winning costume design team, explains the challenges involved in replicating real clothing. The legal department had to be consulted to ensure the recreation was permissible. When it came to Kate Middleton’s sheer dress, originally designed by student Charlotte Todd as a skirt, there was a significant hurdle. Todd declined to participate, leaving the team with the task of recreating it in a way that would still resonate with the audience.

In situations where permission is denied, the team faces the challenge of designing the item with at least five points of difference. Sid explains, “We changed some details, like the colour of the ribbon running along the top.” The recreation, crafted by Amy and Sid, consists of two different types of netting, differing from the original stretchy knit garment. Amy notes, “The waistband is also totally different,” mentioning the slightly thicker stripe of blue at the hemline, adorned with a threaded ribbon.

Selecting the right underwear was crucial due to the entirely sheer look. The goal was to make it appear as though Kate Middleton had casually put it on. Sid adds, “It needed to look like Kate had just bunged it on.” Bellamy’s comfort was a priority too. Amy shares, “We got about 10 pairs of knickers that she tried on, and we had a conversation about what she preferred and what we felt was right.”

The scene becomes even more revealing considering it’s newcomer Bellamy’s first major role. She was working as a mascot in Legoland when she discovered she had landed the coveted part, auditioning after seeing a casting call posted on The Crown’s Twitter account. “Filming the scene was such an adrenaline rush,” recalls Bellamy. Despite pre-shoot nerves about potential mishaps, the supportive atmosphere and the energizing music kept the experience exciting.

Working closely with movement coach Polly Bennett, who has been guiding actors on The Crown since its third season, contributed to Bellamy’s performance. “Because Meg was sort of nervous anyway about being in The Crown, I didn’t want to over-train her because part of that energy is why she got the part and what we wanted to convey, especially in the fashion show scene,” explains Bennett. Bennett employed psychological cues to enhance Bellamy’s performance, giving her a private thought to convey while walking down the catwalk.

The revealing aspect of the outfit added another layer of complexity, especially considering the context of the scene. Kate not only needed to walk confidently but also with a degree of sensuality and a heightened awareness of her body being on full display. Bennett shares her approach to conveying this sensuality, saying, “I gave her a private thought so that what she’s doing is saying something to herself as she’s walking down the catwalk.”

Beyond the recreation of a dress, the scene holds deeper significance in the nascent stages of the on-screen love story between William and Kate. While the show doesn’t explicitly depict William’s rumoured reaction of saying “Wow!” upon seeing Kate on the runway, it marks a pivotal moment in their evolving relationship dynamics. “In social situations, Prince William enters a room, and all eyes are on him due to his fame,” states Bennett. “However, in this particular scene, Kate Middleton takes centre stage while he remains on the sidelines. I believe this is a significant moment where their relationship dynamics change.”

The importance of the fashion show scene goes beyond its cultural significance. Bennett, by sheer coincidence, attended the actual fashion show in 2002. “I was directing the fashion show at Edinburgh University, where I was a student at the time, so going to the St Andrews show was one we looked at for inspiration,” she recalls. Despite the event’s significance, she notes, “I knew Prince William was there. But there’s no version of this where I looked at Kate Middleton and went, ‘Oh my god, they’re in love!’ She was just another model.”

The scene’s lasting impact may stem from the fact that people are inherently drawn to celebrities before they gained fame. Bennett remarks, “People are always going to be interested in celebrities before they were famous.” The runway moment has become iconic, depicting Kate in her younger, more liberated era, free from the constraints of rules and royal protocol. “You’re seeing Kate in her younger, freer era when she isn’t constricted by rules and royal protocol,” adds Sid. There’s an undeniable element of nostalgia in play as well.

In conclusion, the fashion show scene isn’t merely about the dress; it symbolizes a moment of empowerment for Kate Middleton. Although the story implies that she has William partly in mind when deciding to wear the dress, it’s not a presentation to him but a liberating, bold display of confidence and self-love. This portrayal stands in stark contrast to the polished, modest, and meticulously rehearsed Princess of Wales we see today. The scene captures Kate in her earlier, carefree era, far removed from the constrained life she now leads. Regardless of its accuracy, the moment encapsulates a symbol of a love story and continues to resonate with audiences as an iconic part of Kate and William’s journey.

Kate Middleton Instagram

Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton: Instagram

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How did the team recreate Kate Middleton’s iconic 2002 fashion show moment on ‘The Crown’?

The team faced challenges as the original designer declined participation. They had to design the dress with at least five points of difference to respect legal constraints, changing details like the colour and material.

What were the challenges in replicating real clothing for the show?

When permission was denied for replication, the team had to ensure the recreation had distinct elements. They altered details such as the colour of the ribbon and used different materials, creating a unique but recognizable version.

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