Mother of all exclusives: The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George* pose for a fashion shoot for The Independent (*OK, lookalikes, at least)
No one was more surprised than the staunchly republican Independent when we landed the scoop of the decade – the world’s first photoshoot with the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George. Take that, Kay Burley!
Kate Middleton carries a Céline bag! Actually, she doesn't. And, in reality, she isn't. 'Kate Middleton' is one of her legion of semi-pro lookalikes, Gabriella Munro Douglas, and Gabriella's Céline was fake. I'm not commenting on it as a bitchy fashion aside, it just felt very appropriate. Plus none of us would have noticed if Gabriella hadn't cheerfully confessed it herself.
Nothing else is fake, though – the million-quid-or-so's-worth of fine jewellery and a hundred grand of designer clobber. However, they're all borrowed, like the four babies, and the Dorchester Hotel's Oliver Messel suite, which provided our suitably regal background. Messel was uncle to Lord Snowdon. Hence the reason the suite perfectly nails the Windsor style – crammed with chintz, mirrors, mouldings and gilded plaster pilasters.
We're proposing an alternative, post-pregnancy fashion identity for the Duchess of Cambridge here, spanning three generations of British fashion talent. She's never worn these designers before. Here's hoping she reconsiders. It's an all-Anglo Saxon wardrobe that can take her from twinsetted, rose-rambled countryside privacy at Bucklebury Manor, to public meet-and-greet, to the most formal, Ferrero Rocher-stuffed ambassador's receptions.
Of course, there's a ballgown – the Royal-style stalwart, albeit one Kate has yet to wear. She hasn't graced a banknote, but she could do worse than sporting Giles Deacon's brocade if she eventually gets immortalised on a fiver.
ROSE CARDIGAN, £520, ROSE SKIRT, £350, AND GAUNTLETS, £100, ALL BY SISTER BY SIBLING, OPENING CEREMONY, 35 KING STREET, LONDON WC2, 020-7836 4978; 'OLD FASHIONED' RUBY AND BLACKENED WHITE GOLD NECKLACE, FROM A SELECTION BY SOLANGE AZAGURY-PARTRIDGE, 99 NEW BOND STREET, LONDON W1, 020-7792 0197; LEATHER AND SILK SHOES, £450, BY SOPHIA WEBSTER, SOPHIAWEBSTER.COM; SAVOY HANDBAG, FROM A SELECTION BY ASPREY, AS BEFORE; BABY WEARS OWN CLOTHES; BABY'S BIB (INSIDE HANDBAG), FROM A SELECTION BY PAUL SMITH, PAULSMITH.CO.UK
'The agency I'm with has 120 Kates'
Meet Gabriella Munro Douglas, the Duchess of Cambridge's unofficial double-act
"I didn't really think I'd make a career out of being a Kate Middleton lookalike. After the wedding I saw all these Kate lookalikes emerge, and all my friends were saying 'You have to go for it!'. Going into coffee shops, at the gym or in the supermarket, people would say it. Everyday someone would make a comment. So my mum sent a photograph to a lookalikes agency and a week later I'd been booked for a shoot for Grazia.
It is sort of like living a bit of a fantasy. I try not to let it affect my daily life, because it's a bizarre thing. There's no talent behind it, I just look like someone. But it does take over a bit. I talk about her every day. I say the word 'Kate' every day.
Apparently Susan Scott, the agency I'm with, has 120 Kates. But then you look through their pictures and they all just have brown hair! You always look for your own doppelgänger but I don't think we look like each other. I think we all have elements of her. Maybe combine us and we'd be a super Kate.
I think the media tries to play up this big rivalry between us, which doesn't exist. It's a weird thing to be competitive about, because there's no real talent in it. I suppose you could get plastic surgery but I wouldn't ever get that done.
A lot of people come up to me and think that I'm her. If I'm outside the castle or if I'm in Kensington Palace or in Harrods people confuse me. It's mainly American tourists who will come up and say, 'Oh my God, I saw you on TV the other day. I can't believe you don't have a bodyguard around you'. And it gets really awkward because you don't want to say. You start to play along, and then you think 'They actually do think I'm her… when do I stop this?!'.
It's sort of become my persona now."
SEQUINNED AND CORSETED EVENING DRESS, £3,145, BY VIVIENNE WESTWOOD GOLD LABEL, MATCHESFASHION.COM; SHOOTING STAR TIARA IN WHITE GOLD AND DIAMONDS PAVE, RUBY AND BLACKENED GOLD NECKLACE, AND RUBY CUP RING, ALL FROM A SELECTION BY SOLANGE AZAGURY- PARTRIDGE, AS BEFORE; LACE AND PATENT LEATHER SHOES, £450, BY JIMMY CHOO, JIMMYCHOO.COM; BABY WEARS ROMPER, FROM A SELECTION BY JOHN LEWIS, AS BEFORE
Model: Gabriella Munro Douglas
Hair: Sami Knight using Kerastase
Make-up: Clare Read at Caren using Chanel Les Beiges and A/W 2013
Photographs: Alice Hawkins
Photographer's assistants: Phill Taylor, Kieran Hughes and Leoni-Blue Fleming
Stylist's assistant: Emma Akbareian
Babies: Jackson Rex Theodore, Sidney Gray Smith, Max Alexander Astbury and Sophia-Marie Breingan
Special thanks to Matt Theodore and family; Stacey Smith and John Smith; Zhaleh Astbury; Lisamarie Breingan and Rossano Mansoori-Dara; and to all at The Dorchester
Photographed at the famous Oliver Messel Suite at The Dorchester. Seasonal rates start from £3,798 including VAT, thedorchester.com
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