October has proven to be the most interesting month on the blog thus far this year in many ways. With the exception of Princess Charlotte's joyous arrival in May of course, 2015 has largely been an incredibly quiet year owing to Kate's maternity leave and the absence of a royal tour. Over the past month, however, we've seen a flurry of engagements including a formal role in a state visit and a focus on mental health emerging, along with some of the most polarizing sartorial selections (and we're not just talking about THAT Erdem gown). As it all happened so quickly, it seems an appropriate time to look back before we welcome November...
It all kicked of on Saturday, the 10th when the Cambridges supported Mental Health Day at an event hosted by mental health charity Mind at London's Harrow College. The Palace were keen to stress the couple's commitment to raising awareness of young people's mental health organisations. Given William and Kate's number of engagements at present, I think it's key for them to lend their focus to specific areas ensuring momentum is built and charities benefit. Kate repeated her Tory Burch Pauline Dress for the event.
That evening, Kate sported her Reiss Delaney Jacket, Aquatalia Rhumba Boots and her new Kiki McDonough Lauren earrings for the Wales V Australia Rugby World Cup match. As an avid fan and Vice-Patron of Welsh Rugby Union, William will have no doubt been disappointed not to see his team make it through to the final.
The state banquet on the 20th was the night we had all been waiting for all year - Kate's first appearance at the white-tie dinner with the dress code calling for a tiara. We had such fun seeing readers choose their dream looks for Kate and on the night she certainly didn't disappoint. Wearing a sparkling red gown with cap sleeves and a full skirt by Jenny Packham, and the Queen Mother's Papyrus Tiara, Kate looked every inch the future queen as she took her place next to the president of China.
The Duchess' dazzling jewels comprised of the tiara and two beautiful bracelets loaned to Kate by Her Majesty. One in particular is without question a very special piece in particular. It was in fact a wedding gift from Prince Philip, made with diamonds from a tiara belonging to his mother. The other, a choker worn by Queen Mary c. 1920, and later converted to a bracelet worn by the late Queen Mother. The look was completed with a pair of diamond chandelier earrings HM has loaned Kate several times.
I loved researching, writing and hearing your comments on this event. It is one of the last great white-tie appearances where we see the royals decked out in their finery and we're guaranteed to see tiaras and historic jewels from the Royal Collection.
An excellent video from the evening was released and one lady in particular caught the eye of readers (at 06.40 in the video). A tall striking brunette in a Temperley London gown? No, not the Duchess but the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, formerly socialite and model Rose Hanbury who almost stole the show in the brand's Long Angeli Dress.
Rose, 31, and her husband David, 55, made headlines back in 2009 when she gave birth to twin boys and decided the heaviest son who would become the eighth marquess. David and Rose were guests at the royal wedding, and it was suggested by the media the couple's boys may grow up to be playmates of Prince George. Below, we see the couple's stately home Houghton Hall, which is part of a 4,500 acre estate neighbouring Sandringham.
Next morning, the Duchess debuted two new Italian designers for a creative industry event with President Xi and his wife Madame Peng. Kate's £3,495 Dolce & Gabbana Floral Lace Dress and Gianvito Rossi pumps received mixed reviews with many feeling the dress was better suited to an evening affair.
Paola correctly noted the flowers on the dress looked very much like peonyies - China's "Queen of Flowers", signifying richness, beauty and honour. I think this may very well have been a factor in Kate's choice. It's also important to remember we haven't seen William and Kate significantly involved in an event of this scale before and I expect the Duchess may have wanted to up her game, sartorially speaking.
The Earl and Countess of Strathearn enjoyed an 'away day' in Dundee, Scotland on the 23rd. The couple carried out five engagements during the course of the day under the umbrella of supporting mental health. They visited local organisations focused on the issue and did a little sightseeing on the RSS Discovery. Kate gave a nod to Scotland in a bespoke coat and kilt by Scottish designer Christopher Kane. I loved this look, and it very much merged the style of her pre-engagement days with her position as a member of the Royal family.
Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th were two packed days with four engagements taking place. First up, we saw the royal trio having a ball with the children from their patronages at a Charities Forum event at BAFTA. Kate chose a space print dress by Tabitha Webb. The real highlight of the engagement was seeing the royals interacting with the children and the delighted expressions on their faces.
It was another bespoke Jenny Packham gown for Kate's Date with 007 at the premiere of Spectre. The Duchess, accompanied by two princes walked the red carpet at the glamorous event. This gown proved to be a polarizing one indeed with a variety of opinions expressed. Looking over it again, there are still many elements I do like, including the back of the dress, the sweeping skirt, and the glittering belt - all striking aspects. I do feel, however, the fabric (or rather the amount of fabric) at the front swamps Kate and therefore effects the overall silhouette of the gown.
Kate borrowed another pair of stunning earrings for the premiere - £14,300 Robinson Pelham pagoda earrings set with blue topaz and diamonds. Carole Middleton wore the earrings to the royal wedding reception in 2011 and loaned them to Kate for the night.
Fashion aside, ladies, Kate met Bond. James Bond.
It was Prince Harry who was shaken and stirred by 007 and asked him to sign his programme. There's a great video at ITN Source of their chat showing a very enthusiastic and excited Harry.
On Tuesday, Kate repeated an Orla Kiely dress for an engagement at Islington Town Hall where Kate learned more about Chance UK. The Palace said the engagement reflected "the Duchess of Cambridge's particular interest in early intervention programmes". Chance UK would seem an ideal future patronage choice for the Duchess, and in order to take their support of mental health and early intervention to the next step, taking on roles as patrons would be significantly beneficial to them.
The month's final appearance saw the Duchess attend the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Gala at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her Royal Highness stepped out of the vehicle and surprised us all in the floral print Erdem Alouette Tiered Floral Silk Gown inspired by 1960's Japanese graphics.
As I said in the post, I applaud Kate for taking risks with fashion. She's only 33 and has opted to play it relatively safely sartorially speaking over the past couple of years. We've all waited to see her experiment with her style and enjoy fashion, so it's splendid to see her doing that. Pulling off this dress is a major ask for anyone, and if someone with Kate's tall, slender frame cannot do it, then who can? If the dress had been streamlined it would have worked for me, but the voluminous tiered skirt didn't photograph particularly well in movement shots.
The Duchess was loaned another pair of the Queen Mother's earrings for the night: the Sapphire and Diamond Fringe earrings. Commentators have speculated Kate plans to model her royal career on the Queen Mother's hence her increasing access to her gems.
Vogue wrote a very interesting article on Kate's recent looks, titled Duchess of Cambridge's High Fashion Era:
'Slowly, carefully, cleverly, the Duchess's outfits have become increasingly sleek. She's shelved the sartorial literalism (although we secretly hoped against hope for an Ursula Andress-esque conch accessory at the Bond premiere) and the safe block colour combinations.
She's tidied up her hair, opting for more sophisticated layers and grown-up, pinned back styles. And she's upped her fashion game: in the last fortnight alone she's worn Dolce & Gabbana (a first), a backless Jenny Packham creation, a bespoke Christopher Kane coat and a splashy, statement print Erdem gown.'
Vogue credits this change to a better relationship with designers:
'That increased confidence is down to better relationships with designers, many of whom are better attuned to her classic, traditional taste, but it's also down to age. Now firmly in her thirties, and a mother-of-two, the Duchess knows how to minimise the risk of a tabloid frenzy - and how to carry off a £2,660 dress and thousands of pounds of diamonds without a media outcry. Touché.'
Does this recent change signal the end of Kate's high-street looks? I wouldn't think so, not at all. Perhaps though, we are beginning to see early glimpses of Kate opting for more high-end and bespoke looks as her role within the Royal family grows. We're slowly seeing Kate showcase more pieces of royal jewellery, too. Over the past month we've seen something akin to the schedule William and Kate will have as first-in-line to throne, which will involve state visits, two events in one day and more 'away days'.
It's been tremendous fun following it all with you and hearing your thoughts. There was a fantastic buzz on the blog and great debate. It would obviously be wonderful to see the Cambridges continuing with a busier schedule of engagements moving forward, while continuing to bear a spotlight on mental health and other causes close to their hearts.
We conclude this portion of the post with news, the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Gala raised over £550,000 for Kate's patronage The Art Room. I've followed the organisation over the past few years and it's run by an amazingly dedicated and hardworking team. This sum will make quite the difference to them and will help them to continue to provide services.
We also have word of an upcoming appearance for the Duke and Duchess. On Saturday, 7 November, the couple will join other members of the Royal family including the Queen and Prince Philip, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Duke of Kent for the Festival of Remembrance at Royal Albert Hall. It is the first time the Cambridges have attended the event and they will more than likely be there because Charles and Camilla will be on tour in Australia and New Zealand.
|The Royal British Legion|
The event, hosted by the Royal British Legion, takes place at 7 pm. Highlights of the festival are special guest artists, military bands and a drumhead service. Below, we see Her Majesty arriving for last year's performance.
You can view last year's event in full on YouTube.
The following day, Remembrance Sunday, will see Kate on the balcony at Whitehall for the morning's ceremonies. More from Richard Palmer:
|Richard Palmer Twitter Feed|
All that remains is to wish you all a great weekend...
..and a very Happy Halloween :)