SHE MAY BE the darling of the British tabloids, but on the other side of the Atlantic, Kate Middleton, otherwise known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is seen as rather average – at least as a clothes-horse. “If you take Kate out of the Royal Family, put her on a street in New York, you wouldn’t look at her twice,” says Gregg Andrews, fashion director at the US retailer Nordstrom. “She’s not setting trends, she’s following trends. She’s a beautiful woman, but she blends into a crowd.” Other members of the American fashion pack agree. Anne Slowey of Elle magazine said people were bound to be obsessed with Kate’s clothes whatever she wore. But, “is she a style icon, the likes of a Kate Moss? Absolutely not.” Ken Downing, fashion director of high-end department store Neiman Marcus, said, “Is she iconic at the moment? Time will tell.” Their comments seem to fly in the face of speculation that New York Fashion Week would see Manhattan infected by Kate-mania. “We are in a Kate moment,” Ed Burstell, managing director of the London store Liberty’s told the New York Times last week. “Everyone wants to look like her, to act like her, to be her.” For some, 29-year-old Kate’s elegant but (relatively) affordable outfits are commendable. Lindsay Mannering on The Stir praised her for bringing into fashion “a new kind of Tory approach to looking good. We’ve learned from her it’s all about how you carry yourself and less about trendy fads.” The last word on the duchess’s style, however, goes to the queen of such matters. “There’s nothing trashy or vulgar about her,” Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue told the New York Times. “She dresses her age and never looks out of place.” Ironically, it is exactly these qualities which stop Kate from being anything more than simply stylish. As such, observed Wintour, “She is no Daphne Guinness”.