A new babywear range has been launched to raise money for the Diana Awards charity. Stephanie Smith talks to its Yorkshire trustee, Kate Hardcastle, as her baby twins model the collection.
She was renowned for her love of fashion and her sense of style, but even more so for her warmth and empathy, especially her ability to connect with young people. So it seems fitting that Diana, Princess of Wales, has inspired a babywear range that will raise money to help youngsters.
The Diana Collection features her pastel tartan, created in wool and cashmere from Scotland, with 12 per cent of the price of every piece going to the Diana Awards, the charity that continues her legacy of supporting and empowering young people. “The tartan was gifted to Diana and Charles and was used in William and Harry’s clothing, and we’ve got permission as the Diana Awards to use that tartan,” explains Kate Hardcastle, trustee of the charity.
Based in West Yorkshire, Kate is an award-winning businesswoman and TV commentator on the retail sector. She runs her own company, Insight with Passion, and is founder of the Charity Dreamgirls, raising money through concerts, and a renowned public speaker, fundraiser and campaigner who has garnered support for a range of causes including anti-bullying, mentoring the young and raising awareness of stroke. On International Women’s Day in March she was made a Point of Light by David Cameron for her volunteer work and in April was voted the Yorkshire Choice Business Woman of the Year.
The Diana Awards began 15 years ago to continue the late Princess’s work recognising children as changemakers. Kate became an ambassador four years ago, with the remit of expanding beyond London, starting with the North, and has organised events at the First Direct Arena and Leeds United for hundreds of local children.
“They have recognised tens of thousands of young people,” she says, explaining that the Diana Awards are not an annual ceremony but a constant delivery of recognition and support to nominated young people (it’s easy to nominate online, she adds). “Once you get an award, you go into a network of people, and get amazing opportunities from meeting the princes to mentoring and anti-bullying support.”
The charity was chosen by Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria to benefit from her latest Global Gift Gala, as she calls her celebrity balls which tour the major cities of the world. It took place in London last November with guests including Victoria Beckham and Cheryl Cole.
Kate, 39, was there too, heavily pregnant with twins Martha Jean and Jude, who were born seven months ago. Now the twins are helping to celebrate Mum’s work by modelling the Diana Collection in a fashion shoot at home in West Bretton, near Wakefield.
Part of that work involves finding commercial partnerships, including with big banks and companies such as Facebook, and also with smaller businesses. The Diana Collection is a collaboration with UK-based Seraphine, the super-stylish maternity wear brand worn by celebrities across the world including Kate Middleton, Gwen Stefani, Kate Hudson, January Jones and Jessica Alba. It has a store in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds, which Kate says was a style saviour for her.
“It was my absolute go-to when I was pregnant because they create clothes that don’t make you look like a sack of spuds,” she says. “I needed stuff for balls and gala dinners and it was really hard to find without wearing kaftans – because it was a twin pregnancy, I was so large – so they were an absolute blessing.”
The range is already selling out, especially in Japan and Dubai where the Diana connection causes much excitement. In wools and cashmeres, the clothes are exquisite, Kate says, but she is pleased to report that there will be a more affordable cotton range in the same tartan launching soon, so more people “can have a piece of the magic”.
The pictures here feature images from Seraphine’s own shoot and also from the shoot with Martha Jean and Jude, then aged six months. “Martha loved it and Jude just cried all day,” says Kate, who also has six-year-old daughter, Nya, and works from home during part of the week to care for them.
“I’m still in the honeymoon phase of it all. I can’t actually believe I’ve got three kids now, it’s brilliant,” she says. “It’s really bloody hard and I think that’s a really important thing to say. I’ve always read these articles about these superwomen who talk about how you can have it all, and if you juggle and you’re organised … that’s just not happened for me.” The previous Sunday, she says, was spent on a sofa at the BBC commenting on the BHS crisis, “top half in a jacket, bottom half in my joggers with sick all down them – that’s life for me”.
The Diana Collection of babywear for 0-18 months is available at Seraphine at the Victoria Quarter in Leeds, and online on www.seraphine.com.
The shoot with Martha Jean and Jude was photographed by Bruce Fitzgerald. All body suits, socks and tights are Bates. Balloons from Cardelium bespoke balloons, Halifax.