It appears that Her Royal Highness Princess Kate has been sporting a streamlined version of a kapote in some of her public outings, thanks to a vintage store purchase by her designer.
Katherine Hooker, Kate Middleton’s favorite designer, recently told New York magazine that she’s been basing several of Middleton’s slim, close-fitting wool coats on a black silk frock coat that she bought years back in an Israeli secondhand store.
“I bought a young boy’s Hasidic coat in a junk shop,” Hooker said. “And it was an old one, like when clothes used to be made for people as opposed to mass market. I was 18 and tiny and skinny, and it fit me absolutely perfectly; it was made for a 14-year-old boy or something.”
Hooker may not have realized the irony of a British designer copying something the ultra-Orthodox had adopted in Europe in imitation of the fashion-forward Prince Albert, the consort to Queen Victoria. The so-called frock coat with knee-length skirt and double-breasted jacket is sometimes called the Prince Albert, after the man who popularized it during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The ultra-Orthodox call it a kapote, while a full-length suit jacket is known as a rekel.
To Israeli designer Idit Barak, owner of the Delicatessen boutique in Tel Aviv’s Gan Hahashmal, Kate Middleton’s version doesn’t look very Hasidic-inspired.
“Maybe if it were in black satin with brocade fabric, but it’s a little jacket she pinned a story on,” said Barak. “I wouldn’t do what she did because it would be disrespectful around here to have people walking around in black satin coats on Sheinkin.”
In any case, said Barak, Israeli designers would eschew Hooker’s hasidic garb because it’s not exotic here, even if Kate Middleton is wearing it.
“People wouldn’t get the fashion statement of it,” she said, “or they’d think you’re really religious.”