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What Will Kate Wear to the State Banquet: Jenny Packham

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Good morning! We continue our "What Will Kate Wear to the State Banquet" series by looking at the next possible candidate in the race to design the dress. Last time, we chatted about the lead candidate--the horse out ahead of the pack--and that is, of course, Alexander McQueen. Tonight, we turn to another worthy possibility:  the Queen of Kate's evening wear, Jenny Packham. (Kate wore this black Jenny P at a State Reception Down Under. It isn't floor length, and so is not included, but it is an evening event at which Kate went with JP.)

I know what you are thinking. Last time, we discovered that Kate has actually debuted more McQueen evening gowns than any other designer, but... I think that Packham retains the crown for Queen of the Night because she has designed for some really big events--more big evening events than McQueen. Perhaps more accurately, we could say that she has had a magic concoction of high-profile events and really head turning designs. Let's look over the dresses to get a sense of what his means.

On her very first public event as a royal, the very first, Kate and William were slated to attend the ARK Gala. That was a huge, historical, iconic moment. Kate wore this shimmering Packham gown that remains to this day, a favorite for many. 

It was almost a year later that she wore her second JP evening gown, but it was another stunner. In May 2012, she wore the teal Jenny P to the Our Greatest Team Rises gala, and it dazzled. I think this is my favorite evening gown. I am still head over heels with it, and it continues to wow me despite my familiarity with it. 

In 2013, Kate had another big event on her calendar. Her come-back after George's birth was the hotly anticipated Tusk Trust gala. This was the longest dry-patch we had experienced since (what will become) a life-time of being spoiled rotten commenced on the 29th of April in 2011. She turned to Jenny Packham again, debuting this super-sparkly column dress. Was I super-duper in love with the dress? I won't go that far, but (to use a colloquial turn of phrase at which my mother would purse her lips) Kate looked pretty smoking, so there was that.

It was just the next month that she debuted what turned out to be a very popular dress. On an evening out (in? The event was held in the KP State Apartments...) for 101 Women in Hedge Funds and Action Addiction, Kate debuted an ink-blue Jenny Packham. We loved it at the time, but fans were a little disappointed that we didn't get a better look at the stunner. The lighting wasn't ideal, and as is generally the case when Kate attends an evening of this sort, pictures were scarce. 

Little did we know, we had nothing to worry about.  Kate gave this dress the good ol' Royal-Repeat when she wore it in February of 2014 on her first public engagement of that year. It was a notable appearance because she paired it with the eye-watering Nizam of Hyderabad necklace on loan from the Queen. Kate almost never wears bling of this degree, and it was a bit of a random one-off. I have no idea what precipitated it, nor why she never went back, thankful for small blessings. It was fun and unexpected! 

It would have been within reason to think that was it for the ink-blue Jenny P. It was a beauty and it got its fair shake. Ha! Kate the Great never ceases to amaze. Who would have thought that on the final night of her hugely popular tour of NYC, at the glittering and imposing Metropolitan Museum of Art, that Kate would wear anything but a new, custom design? Not so. Kate pulled a three-peat. It couldn't have been more fabulous. With her hair swept up and with new, dazzling emeralds dripping from her ears, Kate was every inch the princess. It was almost as if the confidence of the recycle made her even more amazing. I think we were all wowed. Well done, Your Grace. 

This (St. Andrews 600th) was the last time we saw Kate in a Jenny Packham evening gown, but let us not forget that between the repeat and the three-peat, she wore one other Jenny Packham dress that was floor-length. That would be this, her most unusual gown. Many speculate, and I am of the same mind, that Kate had this dress made for her trip to Malta, which was regrettably canceled due to her HG with Charlotte. It certainly would have been perfect for a Mediterranean night!

So, to sum up. Yes, McQueen has the larger evening gown count if we are considering debuts only, Packham squeaks by McQueen in the count if we consider appearances only, and I would argue that Packham has beaten McQueen in the "quality" i.e. notoriety of the events. You will see photos of Kate waving on the steps of the Met in NYC, pregnant with her second child, far more than you will of Kate presenting a quick award for BBC. (No disrespect to that event.) You will see far more photos of Kate in that teal bridal gown than you will the hibiscus Belle dress--again, no disrespect to Malaysia. Although I am not suggesting Jenny will snag eh State Banquet, she still rules the night. 

Next up, we will discuss, ahem, third tier possibilities. I haven't gotten a chance to respond to the comments, and likely will not be able to given how much work I have on this end, but I have enjoyed so many of the comments on the possibilities, and agree with many solid points that have been made. We will sum up some of those in the final post of this series. 

What Will Kate Wear to the State Banquet: McQueen

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Just over the past weekend, we discovered that Kate will be attending the State Banquet this October, when the president of China visits Britain in October. We are still waiting to hear the exact date, but while we wait I think everyone's thoughts have turned to, what will Kate wear? That's a hard question to answer beyond the obvious: a floor length evening gown. It is fun, however, to speculate on who Kate will wear and with that in mind, I am undertaking a series of posts examining the labels that are the most likely contenders.

Glitz & Glamour: A State Banquet at Buckingham Palace

Let's start with the strongest possibility: Alexander McQueen (Sarah Burton). We think of Jenny Packham for evening wear, and although we will discuss Packham in the next post, Kate has actually worn more McQueen, if we count the dresses rather than the appearances. Let's review all six of the McQueen gowns in chronological order. I have linked each appearance to its corresponding ensemble page on my wardrobe website Kate's Clothes, and I have linked directly to the individual item, as well. You can follow either of the links for each ensemble to learn more about the event or about the dress. 

The first gown was, of course, the ball gown the brand new princess donned for her wedding reception. This dress often gets lost in the shuffle or overshadowed by the star of the show earlier in the day, but it was a separate piece all its own:

The pressure to look her very best was certainly high when Kate visited (arguably) the capital of glamour, Hollywood.  Tom Ford and a host of American designers had been named as possible options for Kate to choose for her appearance at the BAFTA "Brits to Watch" evening, but the Duchess flew the British flag in a simple, but gorgeous lilac evening gown from Alexander McQueen. I think we can safely say, she stunned the stars.

In December of 2011, she wore her third McQueen gown as she attended the Millies with William and Harry. The dress was a customized, black velvet which strongly echoed Princess Diana's similar gown early in her own royal life. Kate paired the gown with a sparkling necklace and matching bracelet from Mouawad:

In 2012, while touring South East Asia, Kate and William were the guests of honor at a State Banquet. Kate did not wear a tiara, but she did debut a bespoke gown from McQueen. This one was decorated in golden hibiscus flowers--the official flower of Malaysia. 

Leaving her sickbed briefly, Kate presented at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in the late fall of 2012. She once again wore McQueen, this time a floor length dress in deep, forest green with a slit up the front. Again, this dress gets a little lost in the shuffle, but had Kate been feeling better, she would have made a more thorough appearance and this would have had better exposure. 

The final McQueen evening gown that Kate has worn publicly was to the Diplomats' Reception at Buckingham Palace in 2013. (NB: this was not a State Banquet, as has been suggested in some comments.) We only caught a glimpse, but the dress featured lots of lace. This also happened to be the only time other than on her wedding day that Kate has worn a tiara. (Again, reflecting some comments from earlier posts, since the Diplomats' Reception was a different kind of event, we didn't get inside pictures. We will get pictures from the upcoming State Banquet.)

I think it is almost out of the question that Kate would recycle. Her first State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, and presumably in a tiara, seems to demand a brand new, and likely bespoke dress. McQueen would be a very good guess, but it would not be fair to say the only possibility. Join me next time as we look at other labels who have a chance at dressing Kate for the State Banquet!

P.S. the comment section has gotten a bit volatile. I will address this in a post later this week. For the moment, please abide (or continue to abide) by the comment guidelines. :) 

The Mystery of Missing Kate

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Good evening! Well, I had planned a different post for today, but the mystery of Kate missing the wedding has more or less eclipsed all else. I apologize for the confusion in the last post. A lot of weird details flew about and several of them surfaced after I had posted. Let's just pop through what we know at the moment, since I know there are a lot of different ideas running around. 

We have it on very solid authority that Kate was supposed to be at the weekend wedding in Thurlestone. Sebastian Shakespeare is quite a good source when it comes to the celebrity social circuit. He claims that Kate was a no-show at the very last moment and that her name was still on the place-cards. 
The hosts appeared to have been informed so late that Kate’s name was still on the seating plan at the reception in a marquee overlooking the village green. ‘The names William and Catherine Wales were written on the plan, which appeared on an antique-looking mirror,’ a source claims. ‘They were due to sit at the top table. Kate had been expected to attend.'
As a side note, I am a little charmed to see that the Cambridges continue to go by "Wales." As you may recall, the story went that William introduced Kate to the guests at this wedding reception as "Mrs. Wales." Of course, we also have heard that Kate has used her current title as a surname as well, os I suspect their is an element of interchangeability and perhaps transition. In any event, a cute detail that I very much enjoyed. Back to the story.

So,  we have it on good authority that Kate had planned to be there. There were multiple reports that Kate was spotted with William on the train down to Devon (not Cornwall. ;)). Unfortunately, this is a little harder to verify, but ultimately, it might not be terribly important. 

William did show, but there are two different reports. One said he came alone, but the Sebastian report seems to suggest that Pippa, rather than just happening to be at the same wedding, actually filled in for Kate as Will's date. Does this mean she sat at the head table with him? I don't know. But the implication in the Daily mail articles is that she did. 

Again, this isn't super important to know, but it could tell us whether Kate had some warning that she wouldn't be able to attend. Did she have a day to ring up Pips and say, "Sis, I need you to pinch hit for me. William needs a buddy. Can you book it down to Devon?" Or, was it the morning of the big-do that Kate backed out,a nd did the hosts, not wanting to shuffle the seating, just moved the royal's sister-in-law to the head table? 

I do not find it strange that William and Pippa spent the weekend together. If William was without Kate, and Pippa was without any date, it makes sense they would stick together. They are, after all, family, and no one likes to float about alone at a wedding. 

I also do not find it odd that William stayed the entire weekend. Why should he rush home just because Kate was not there? He had two reasons for staying on: his own personal enjoyment, and consideration for his hosts. 

Let us assume that Kate was unable to make the event for some reason other than a deathly malady that would demand William's presence at her sickbed. Wouldn't she urge him to enjoy the weekend as planned? Wouldn't you urge a loved one to do the same? Isn't love actually willing the good of another? Selflessly? Wherever Kate was, I am sure she was comfortable and safe. Just because she could not make the weekend does not mean that she wouldn't urge William to proceed as planned. Plus, if Pippa was going solo, expecting to be kept company by her family, Kate would take Pippa's feelings and comfort into consideration, as well. I would urge my spouse to look out for my little sister, too. Some things don't change, no matter how "adult" you are.

The second consideration, is of course, that William and Kate were obviously going to be the celebrity guests. Every party has a few people on the list who are particularly fun or exciting. If those particular guests bail, it is a disappointment. So, losing Kate was bad enough. William probably felt a renewed need to stay to the bitter end of the festivities so as not to further dampen the fun and the festivities. Nothing odd here at all. He was gracious in attending the entire weekend as planned. 

So finally, the million dollar question. Where was Kate? To which I respond, I don't know---but, does it matter? The most obvious likelihood is that either she, or one of her children, was taken ill. It happens even to royals. Life has a weird way of springing those things at the most inopportune of times.

Nothing suggests there is trouble in paradise. Au contraire, I believe that if William and Kate were dealing with strain in their marriage, they would be at pains to project the opposite picture to the world, and so I think Kate would have been present and smiling. When you are truly on the rocks, you put on a good show. You paint a smile on your face, and you soldier through. There is absolutely nothing to suggest anything is amiss with the Waleses. 

This is a tempest in a teapot, a mountain made from a mole hill, whatever other charming sayings we have inherited from posterity. DOn't give it anymore mind. It happens, it was too bad, and I am sure that Kate was as disappointed as anyway, except maybe the bride. Kate owes her dinner at KP. 

Let's reconvene on Friday, all y'all. 

Wedding in Thurlestone, Tiara Appearance Planned, & November Get-Away?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Good morning all! [Update: Rebecca English has confirmed that Kate was not present at this wedding. This explains why there were no pictures. :( I have left the original text, but now that this update negates...almost everything. :)  Apparently, the Duchess was with William on the trip down, so it is a bit of a mystery. She may not have wanted to attend the wedding, but perhaps they still spent the weekend as a little get-away? Walking the area and sightseeing? ] Apparently,  William and Kate snuck away to Cornwall this weekend for the wedding of Bear Maclaine and Daisy Dickson in the seaside of village of Thurleston in Devon. To my frank disappointment, no pictures have emerged, but perhaps that is for the best on this one occasion since this weekend has been so highly charged with discussion of paparazzi photographs, etc. I suspect Wills and Kate made a mini break of it, since Devon (and Cornwall more broadly) is such a beautiful part of England. I assume the wedding took place at All Saints in Thurlestone, but that is pure speculation:

All Saints, Thurlestone

When the two attended a wedding in Suffolk on the weekend of their first wedding anniversary,  they stayed with other guests at the country inn that had been rented for the wedding and enjoyed breakfast with other guests the morning after the wedding.

Hopefully, this weekend, they enjoyed the sweeping seascapes and light hiking areas of the region before returning to Norfolk. Kate's sister Pippa was also at the wedding, in addition to a number of the royal couple's social circle, so it would have been a very festive environment. 

It is very likely that Kate recycled an ensemble as she often does when attending a wedding. I think part of the reasoning on this is usually that Kate does not want to upstage the bride, but more and more I also think it is simple practicality. She has so, so many beautiful pieces in her wardrobe and she can only wear them a few times in public, if that. Sometimes for a wedding she adds a new element to a recycled ensemble, as she did for Zara's wedding:

She might mix and match two pieces she has worn before, but not together, as she did to this family wedding:

Certainly, she might wear something new (publicly unseen, at least), as well, as she did when she chose this Beulah London dress:

In short, I have no idea what she wore, but I bet it was lovely. If pictures emerge, I will certainly inform you. Hopefully, the Cmabridges had a lovely time! This young woman shared a post on Instagram detailing her own get-away in Thurlestone, and the area looks idyllic:

A photo posted by Megan Evans (@meggles_london) on

Yesterday, we had some more very happy news: relief is on the way. We will be seeing TRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge out together in October (if we do not see them sooner). When William visited China earlier this year, he personally invited President Xi Jinping to visit the United Kingdon, and his invitation was accepted. The Palace announced:
The President of The People’s Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping, accompanied by Madame Peng Liyuan, has accepted an invitation from Her Majesty The Queen to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom during October 2015. The President and Madame Peng will stay at Buckingham Palace.
This didn't really catch the particular interest of Royal Watchers until lovely Twitter friend CepeSmith spotted an announcement in the London Times stating that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the State Banquet when the Chinese president visits. This news is made even more exciting because as a white tie event, Kate will be in a floor-length dress and wearing a tiara.  We have only seen Kate wear a tiara twice, and only once when fully visible, so I think the anticipation for this event will be quite high:

There is obviously a correlation between William's visit to China and the Cambridges planned appearance at the State Banquet. Just as when the President of Singapore and his wife made their visit, the Cambridges--who had visited Singapore as part of the Diamond Jubilee Tour--welcomed them at their hotel. At that time, some had held out hope the two would also attend the State Banquet, but those hopes were doomed to be disappointed. This October, we should finally get our tiara appearance!

In the vacuum department: the word on the street is that Kate and William will be taking a family vacation to Mustique in November. I know there is some confusion as to whether this will supplant the Middleton family holiday that takes places annually in late January/early February. There is nothing to suggest this is the case. I would also add that all details about this planned holiday are tentative at best. We have no absolute confirmation, the Cambridges may not be planning this vacation at all, or may be planning it for a different locale. I think they are probably planning a get-away, but I am surprised that they would choose Mustique unless they already know they will not be able to make the Middleton gathering over the winter.

If they are planning on Mustique, I think it is likely because of the strict privacy laws on the island and of course, their own familiarity with the hideaway, which will make it easier for them to juggle with two young children. The story from Katie Nicholl also says that the Cambridges will bring Carole to keep an eye on George and Charlotte... I hope it is true, and I suspect sometime this fall a vacation will take place, but I think this story needs to develop a little more before we can more certainly guess the here, when, and who. 

Ok, all y'all. That's it from Jane for the moment. It has been a busy weekend here on the blog! I will be back this week, though, so we won't have the same long dearth of posts that we did these past two weeks. Again, my apologies on that one!  Happy Sunday!