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If the Shoe Fits: Kate Middleton Judges Shoe Design Contest

Modern day princess, Kate Middleton, is undoubtedly fashionable, but one fashion student is about to get a Cinderella moment of her own.

Six British fashion students from the footwear design program at De Montfort University in Leicester, England, were selected out of a pool of over 100 applicants to submit their sketches to Kate Middleton in a custom design contest. Whichever pair of shoes she liked the best when she visited the university  would be custom made for the Duchess of Cambridge’s personal wardrobe. The visit kicked off a tour around the U.K. by Kate’s grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, to mark her 60 years on the throne.

Ranging from plaid booties to English rose-adorned peep-toes, the design competition was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the students. Among the lucky designers – Sam Sawkill, 27; Summer Spencer, 23; Kay Yeng Cheng, 22; Tabitha Duffield, Becka Hunt, 20; and Mei Chun Lai, 21 – aesthetics were important.

Summer Spencer was inspired by Kate and husband William’s coat of arms, with its tartan reflecting the couple’s time in college in Scotland, while Tabitha Duffield used daisies and pink leather in her design.

“I wanted something feminine and elegant to reflect her personality,” Duffield said to The Daily Mail. “It’s so exciting, everyone loves Kate, especially after the royal wedding and that dress. She’s in touch with high street fashion as well, which is appealing to a lot of people.”

“We were thrilled when the Palace asked for six designs for the Duchess to choose from,” said Kevin Guildford, who heads the university’s footwear design program. “It’s the most fabulous opportunity for the students who couldn’t hope for a bigger fashion icon to endorse their designs.”

And the winner? Admittedy, the Duchess is not known for her adventurous shoe style (she’s rarely seen out of those black suede heels in the winter and nude heels in the summer), but she’ll be making room in her shoe collection for her a new pair by Becka Hunt.

Competition winner Becka said having her personal design –a pair of royal blue suede stiletto heels adorned with white lace applique on the side– chosen was “incredible.” When it came to designing the shoes, she said she was inspired by 19th-century fashions, “I went for 19th century, romantic chic and took inspiration from her engagement ring for the navy blue velvet of the shoe.”

“I’m kind of in shock still – it’s just amazing,” Hunt said, who admitted to being nervous about meeting the royal. “She’s become already the biggest fashion icon you ever see.”

Alexandra is a graduate from the University of New Hampshire and the current Assistant Digital Editor at Martha Stewart Living. As a journalism student, she worked as the Director of UNH’s Student Press Organization (SPO) and on staff for four student publications on her campus. In the summer of 2010, she studied abroad at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, in England, where she drank afternoon tea and rode the Tube (but sadly no, she did not meet Prince Harry). Since beginning her career, her written work has appeared in USA Today College, Huffington Post, Northshore, and MarthaStewart.com, among others. When not in the office, she can be found perusing travel magazines to plan her next trip, walking her two dogs (both named Rocky), or practicing ballet. Chat with her on Twitter @allie_churchill.
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