Dressed in a magenta Oscar de la Renta jacket and skirt, which retails for £2,700, with a black Aspinal of London bag, Kate spent two hours at the Royal Opera House’s costume department on January 16.
According to royal staff, the Duchess is passionate about learning more on textiles and costume design due to her family history – Kate’s great-great grandfather ran the family’s successful textile manufacturing company, Francis Martineau Lupton, in Leeds.
Her visit is expected to be the first of many relating to the industry.
Principal dancers from The Royal Ballet, Lauren Cuthbertson, Laura Morera, Vadim Muntagirov and Thomas Mock, met the Duchess to explain how their costumes work as they perform, before she watched a rehearsal of the Two Pigeons ballet, which premieres on January 18.
Ms Morera shared a laugh with Kate as she explained her excitement at fitting into a costume she had first worn when she graduated from the Royal Ballet School in 1995, saying: “It was rewarding as a woman.”
Later, the Duchess asked the dancers if they “like having the feeling of structure” in their costumes, to which Ms Cuthbertson quipped: “I like to have as much stretch as possible!”
Artists from The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera House use up to 10,000 costumes each year.
The costumes department is responsible for storing and refurbishing opera and ballet costumes, some dating back to 1861. Many of these are used time and time again, with the entire refurbishment of a costume taking the workroom around 1,500 hours.
During her visit, the Duchess also visited the pattern room, where she was shown the process of working and creating costumes for a new production with designers, including sourcing fabrics and samples.
Kate was then shown the dye shop, where staff showcased different techniques including dyeing, hand-painting, staining garments and digital printing which allows the team to reproduce historic fabrics no longer available.
As designers explained the process of creating each costume, Kate said: “It’s wonderful to see the detail and the skill set involved.”
She added the team were “so talented” and the costumes were “amazing”.