Super model Kate Moss was there, wearing a slinky vintage Ralph Lauren, and Emma Watson showed up, too, wearing a crisp, fresh white shirt and silvery Ralph Lauren evening skirt, with a matching silver clutch bag that was seen nowhere near Watson’s lady parts (proving that it CAN be done).
Where was Kate?
Even Prince William commented upon her absence, telling a somewhat bemused Ralph Lauren: “I’m sorry my wife’s not here, you probably would far rather see my wife.”
To which Ralph Lauren, the master of American understatement-always-in-good-taste, looked around at all the most beautiful women in the United Kingdom gathered together and all wearing his clothes, and replied obliquely, “Not at all.”
“Not at all” as in, “Who cares?”
Or, “Not at all” as in, “I know you are the true Royal one in your relationship, and I am glad to be in your company?”
Why would Ralph Lauren be in such a hurry to feast his eyes upon Kate Middleton, unless she was garbed in a vintage Ralph Lauren creation?
Now, had Prince William said, “I’m sorry my late mother’s not here, you probably would far rather see my mother,” the late Princess Diana, he might have come closer to the truth, and then Ralph Lauren could have replied, “Yes, of course. We miss her so.”
In any event, Prince William’s apologia about his “Now you see her, now you don’t” wife to Ralph Lauren, who’d donated several million dollars for the creation of the Ralph Lauren Breast Cancer Centre, seemed to be almost word-for-word reminiscent of the waspish “so sorries” of his father, Prince Charles, who told crowds that groaned when he exited his limo that they were sadly standing on “the wrong side,” and that although he was the truly titled royal one, he’d become by his marriage a mere collector of Diana’s bouquets.
“I’m sorry my wife’s not here, you probably would far rather see my wife.”
Is there an echo in here?
In truth, Ralph Lauren is a pretty sophisticated guy– and smart enough in marketing to know that if he changed his own name from Ralph “Lifschitz” to Ralph “Lauren,” big things would happen for him in silk and tweedy combinations. Ralph Lauren was savvy enough to know that Americans would more easily identify with advertisements showing WASPs vacationing in Maine in high summer (which in Maine is August 31) than they would with typical dour, ascetic genuine Mainers who actually live there. Rocky beaches, craggy tree lines, and rambling, cedar-shingled gracious homes whose occupants wear cabled pristine white v-necked tennis sweaters and play polo created an Americana dream world that one could join merely by wearing Ralph Lifschitz’s clothes.
And that’s “Lifschitz” as in “lif” and...well, that bodily function that occurs in what my uncle Bill used to call his “throne room” when it wasn’t his “reading room” (which was when he took his newspaper in with him).
It’s a noble Jewish Russian last name, by way of the Bronx.
Ralph Lauren, nee Lifschitz, was operated on for a benign brain tumor a while back, and his dear friend and fellow designer was just one of many persons who suffered from breast cancer. While the Ralph Lauren Breast Cancer Centre has been funded by many persons other than Lauren himself, the fact is that Ralph is the name and the face of the organization.
In an historic first, Queen Elizabeth allowed her grandson to use Windsor Castle as the venue.
Why did Kate Middleton not just show up for one evening to say “Hello” to Ralph and Ricky Lipschitz, and perhaps even “Thank you for donating your several million dollars?”
Why did Kate Midddleton not don her best brown Lauren blazer, or her slinky grey Lauren sweater dress, or, even better, go shopping for something new, or borrow something from the Lauren archives?
If, as Hilary Mantel says, Kate Middleton is just a bony mannequin upon which certain rags are hung, then why not hang some rockin’ Ralph Lauren rags on those bony arms of Kate’s, and hootinany it down at one of the Queen’s castles?
Princess Diana well understood that her designer togs were a method of communication between her and the larger public. She dressed like a fairy princess for a world that adored her in that role, but she also dressed as a military regiment commander, a caregiver, a minefield walker, and even a nurse when the occasion demanded it. And when she wanted to be the epitome of glamor, well, people all over the world genuinely appreciated it. “Did you see when Princess Diana went to a ball at Northwestern University?” my breathless brother shouted, incredulous. “Her dress was the color of Northwestern University’s lavender school colors!” People Magazine might not have cared, but everyone in the greater Chicago area knew that color.
As Tip O’Neill, the famous U.S. Senator and Speaker of the House once said, “All politics is local.”
If the Royals no longer wanted Princess Diana, she could easily have won an election for mayor.
Had she possessed the same understanding, Kate Middleton could have shown up and worn something that would have honored Ralph Lauren, the named donor. Kate’s draping herself in Lauren rags admittedly would have spiked some sales for Ralph Lauren, but so what? Lauren, one of the richest men in the fashion industry, hardly needs that kind of publicity. Middleton could have done much, much more had she just shown up and worn some kind of Ralph Lauren something-or-other. Like her far more famous and frankly far more beauteous late mother-in-law, she could have built a trans-Atlantic fashion bridge of a kind, and would have just led to a much more fun, entertaining and interesting evening for all.
But first, Kate would have had to have shown up.
Where was Kate? Why wasn’t she there, schmoozing with Mr. and Mrs. Lifschitz?
Depending on what you read, Kate was said to be, uhm...pregnant and suffering from rampant, disabling morning sickness (although the gala dinner was not held in the morning, and there is no indication that Middleton is pregnant); busy giving advice to her brother-in-law Prince Harry’s girlfriend, Cressida Bonas; busy giving advice to Cressida’s boyfriend, Prince Harry; busy giving love advice to sister Pippa; busy giving advice to bearded brother James; busy giving advice to James’s alleged girlfriend, Donna Air; busy decorating Amner Hall; busy “designing” Amner Hall; busy buying Turkish rugs for Amner Hall; busy buying fabrics for chairs at Amner Hall; busy taking care of Baby Boy Prince George (what, the Italian nanny could not burp and change the baby for one measly night?).
Kate is just busy, busy, busy, the Palace proclaims!
Really? Who honestly believes that?
Is what’s keeping her sequestered from the outside world the current Old Baily trial of Clive Goodman, the former Royalty section editor of the infamous and now defunct “News of the World”– the paper that “outed” Kate Middleton’s colorful Uncle Gary as a cocaine-chopping and ecstasy-packaging importer of Russian hookers?
What does Clive Goodman know?
Is it hot enough to keep Kate Middleton out of sight for now?
The theory of Kate missing the Ralph Lauren gala because she was busy doing interior designs for Amner Hall gained a little bit of traction. Newspaper reporters outed Simon Knight, a salesman of Turkish kilim rugs, who said that Kate Middleton had personally come by his shop to obtain a “soft”-colored red rug, and also a “soft”-colored ivory rug, for at least two of Amner Hall’s ten or so rooms. But it’s odd that Simon Knight is now talking to the press about Kate’s Ralph Lauren snub because Kate’s visit to Knight’s rug establishment took place back in March– two months ago!
So at least, we know that Turkish kilim rug shopping did not cause Kate Middleton to pass up meeting Ralph Lauren this past weekend.
So what was Kate’s problem?
And if Kate skipped the fete because she really was busy decorating Amner Hall, well, why not stop by the gala and ask Ralph and Rickie Lauren for design tips?
I mean, what does Ralph Lauren NOT make, in terms of housewares and such? There’s Ralph Lauren wallpaper, interior and exterior paints, rugs, kilims, chairs, tables, sheets, quilts, coverlets, pillows, pillow covers, pillow coverlets, curtains, soap dishes...and I could go on and on.
Why now ask Ralph to help out with Amner Hall? Why not just show up and shmooze?
Ask Ralph and Ricky whether one of their one-of-a-kind Navaho blankets would go good with that. Or do they need an opalescent glass-shaded Tiffany lamp to go with that?
Frankly, despite her art history degree and all that work experience she accumulated while selling children’s accessories at Jigsaw way back when, Kate does not seem to be good at schmoozing. She can’t talk without making incessant spidery gestures with her spindly fingers. And could Kate have possibly been intimidated by the truly glamorous ladies at the gala, all wearing Ralph Lauren?
Maybe Kate feared that Cressida Bonas would show up wearing a Ralph Lauren gown, some kind of clunky Ethiopian cross on a giant chain, flowers in her hair, and marching about in untied leather Army boots with the leather tongues hanging out and laces dragging on the ground, and somehow upstage her?
And a misshapen denim jacket atop all of that!
It all made us long for the past.
Back in 1996, Princess Diana wore a sexy, straight-columned white lacy-froth Ralph Lauren creation to a charity gala in Washington, D.C., which she accessorized with honking big sapphire and diamond earrings, a clutch bag (which stayed far away from her lady parts all evening), and Ralph Lauren himself, with famed fashion editor Anna Wintour trailing them in a dark one-shoulder gown bringing up the rear. Prince Charles was not with her because, back in 1996, it was all over but the crying, and even the crying wasn’t over.
Here in 2014, the Palace has a ready story for Kate’s no-show disappearance– that Kate and Prince William “divide their appearances to keep the focus on the cause at hand.”
Really? What’s the logic in that? Is the combined aura of the Cambridge couple so eye-blinding that they cannot safely be in the same room together?
Or did they have a nasty spat just before they were due to show up and greet Mr. And Mrs. Lifschitz? Did Willy and Waity have a lover’s quarrel? Did Kate try to get into the plane cockpit ahead of William again?
One thing’s for sure: Nobody believes the claim that Kate and William have elected to allow their charities to speak for themselves, and that they do cocktails and din-din better apart than together.
So, did Kate and William have a fight? Was it a teary spat, or did Kate get a dead-giveaway shiner? Or are things so lovey-dovey that Kate was just too tired to make it to the party? Is Kate taking the surrogate’s temperature? Is she knitting booties for Baby George? Or is she quivering in fear that Clive Goodman will suddenly remember something?
Where was Kate?
The News of the World may be no more, but that doesn’t mean that nobody is out there watching.