Kate Middleton's induction into Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame and the subsequent "fashion icon" controversy haven’t hindered her penchant for affordable designer garb. Following her recent placement on the magazine’s coveted list, the Duchess of Cambridge was reportedly spotted bargain shopping at Bicester Village in Oxfordshire, England, Sunday.
Middleton, 32, took to the outlet’s chic designer stores, seeking out discounted items for herself and her 13-month-old son, Prince George, the Daily Mail reports. The duchess, who was seen browsing the sales racks of Reiss, Ralph Lauren and Gucci, ultimately purchased Lacoste pajamas for George, says insiders.
“Kate came in on Sunday on her own, just like anyone else, and browsed the sales racks,” an unidentified sales assistant at the discount village told The Sun. “At first I didn’t recognize her, I couldn’t believe it was Kate,” added the source, who described the duchess as "friendly.”
Fellow shoppers shared similar sentiments about the British royal Sunday, Twitter user Leah Bryne posting, “Chuffed to bits I met Kate Middleton today, had a little chat and we she was lovely!” Another Twitter user, Laura Isabelle, shared, “Still quite excited about exchanging smiles with Kate Middleton this morning.”
As a frequent customer of the Oxfordshire outlet mall, Middleton has been known to pick up some of her best-known pieces at its shops, including her blue Missoni coat-dress made famous in 2012. While shopkeepers have previously spoken of her Bicester Village purchases, details of her newly bought items are now being kept under a shroud of secrecy. “We never comment regarding her visits,” a Bicester spokesman told the Daily Mail.
Middleton mentioned her affinity for the outlets to Sadiah Bte Shahal, wife of Singapore official Maliki Osman, during her tour of Southeast Asia in September 2012. “We talked about the UK and particularly about shopping at Bicester,” Bte Shahal told the Telegraph (via Vogue.) “I said: ‘I’ve been there and I love it and she said she does as well. She said: ‘It’s great how everything is so contained.’”
On Aug. 6, Vanity Fair inducted the “polished, eclectic and stylish” Middleton, Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, and Alice + Olivia CEO Stacey Bendet into its 2014 International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame. Following the publication’s announcement, stylist/fashion reporter Elizabeth Clarke scorned the duchess’ fashion icon title in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Kate is not and never has been a fashion girl,” said Clarke in her feature, “Why Kate Middleton Is Not a Style Icon.” “In her place, let’s induct an equally splendid individual but one that stuns us with their sartorial brilliance, fearful self-expression and impeccable taste in shoes.”