Apr 242013

Kate returned to a favorite designer this evening for a function at the National Portrait Gallery in London, opting for a dress by Emilia Wickstead.

WeirPhotos / Splash News

Weir Photos / Splash News

Tonight’s engagement was a reception celebrating the work done by The Art Room, an organization using art to help young people struggling with emotional and behavioral issues.  Below we see a collection of self-portraits created by Art Room students, their artwork was then turned into wall clocks.

The Art Room

The Art Room

There was a small group of students taking part in the evening’s event, Kate spent time chatting with them.  The charity is celebrating its 11th anniversary, tonight’s function served as the formal launch of the Art Room’s ‘Pledge for the Future’ fundraising drive.

When addressing those at the reception the Duchess shared her belief that art can be a positive change agent, more from the Mirror’s story:

“I am a firm believer in the power of art to make a difference and The Art Room is doing that on a daily basis.

“We all stand here tonight to celebrate this wonderful work.

“I hope that you will join me in congratulating The Art Room and their supporters on these extraordinary achievements.

“As patron of The Art Room, I feel immense pride to see the amazing work that they are doing but I also feel hugely excited to look to a future with more Art Rooms, where many more challenging and vulnerable children will be helped.”

Kate is Patron of both the Portrait Gallery and the Art Room, they are two of the first charities she chose to support.
The Duchess was in a bespoke (also referred to as custom made, one-off, made to order, etc.) dress by Ms. Wickstead.
Neil Warner / Splash News

Neil Warner / Splash News

The piece is crafted of a heavy, textured crepe material. It is sleeveless, with a round neckline in front that dips down for a squared, scooped back. Our thanks to People Magazine’s Simon Perry for sharing this photo of Kate at tonight’s reception.
Simon Perry, People Magazine

Simon Perry, People Magazine

Below we see how the blue reflects photographers’ flashes, this is as Kate is leaving after the reception.

Weir Photos /Splash News

Weir Photos /Splash News

The color was very, very pretty on her.

The garment combines many of the designer’s signature elements, like a fitted bodice and fuller skirt. Perhaps it is most similar to this piece from the spring/summer 2013 collection.
Emilia Wickstead

Emilia Wickstead

Remove the sleeves from the green dress and switch the fabric to a much stiffer, heavier material, and you start to have the sense of Kate’s dress. It has a similar bodice (although Kate’s waistline is higher), a center seam on the skirt like Kate’s, and the runway dress also has a deeply scooped back, not visible in the photo we are sharing. Ultimately it isn’t really relevant, those hoping to purchase a dress like Kate’s will need to speak with their seamstress or tailor, we won’t see be seeing an off-the-rack version of Kate’s dress for sale anytime soon.
People magazine has an online story with the following information:
Described as a pale blue silk blend, full skirted summer dress, the custom creation was based on a dress in the current spring/summer collection from the New Zealand-born and London-based designer.  “It was made specially for the duchess,” says a spokeswoman. “We’ve had a style in store that’s very, very similar. So it was very slightly bespoke for her.”
The original is named the CZ dress…. although now sold out, it originally sold for £990 (around $1,500), but the bespoke version costs an extra $300, so Kate would have spent around $1,800.
The spokeswoman meanwhile also tells PEOPLE that because of the so-called Kate Effect, the company says they have had a “few orders placed” for new bespoke versions since the charity event.
As mentioned, the Duchess is fond of this designer’s work. Below we see Kate wearing other pieces by Ms. Wickstead: from left to right, St. Patrick’s day 2012 (worn again in 2013), the pleated pink frock was worn twice last year (Sovereigns’ Luncheon and Palace Garden Party), the gold coatdress was worn for the Order of the Thistle in 2012.
Splash News

PA Wire/PA Wire/Splash News/Splash News

Our early look at the autumn/winter 2013 Emilia Wickstead collection may be viewed here.

When seeing Kate some of us were were immediately reminded of Jackie Kennedy wearing a similar dress during her goodwill tour of India in 1962.  Here she is shown with with the Maharani of Jaipur, Gayatri Devi, in a LIFE magazine photo.
LIFE Magazine

LIFE Magazine/Old Indian Photo

The two dresses are only slightly similar, the most striking elements linking the two are the color, and the fact they both feature sleeveless tops with fuller skirts.

Kate accessorized with her Rupert Sanderson ‘Malone’ pumps.

Rupert Sanderson 'Malone'

Rupert Sanderson ‘Malone’

The ‘Malone’ Style is no longer available, the ‘Malory‘ is similar to the ‘Malone,’ although its toe is more pointed. Mr. Sanderson’s footwear is carried by Bloomingdale’s and Matches Fashion in the USA, as well as Selfridge’s and other department stores in the UK, he also has a wonderful handbag collection.

Kate also wore those still-unidentified drop earrings, her hair was curled and partially pulled back.

Splash News

Splash News

The color was beautiful on Kate, she looked simply radiant, happy and relaxed. In several photos the fit of the garment seemed off, with pulling under the arms, it is hard to know if it was just those photos or the dress itself. I imagine it is next to impossible to perfectly fit dresses at this stage of one’s pregnancy unless items are altered a day or two before they are to be worn.

We’ll see you Friday for the events at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, and the Making of Harry Potter attraction.


  56 Responses to “Kate is Radiant in Emilia Wickstead for The Art Room/National Portrait Gallery Reception (UPDATED)”

  1. One of my all time favorite looks for the Duchess and I just found (and purchased) a relatively good “copy Kate” of this dress:


    Definitely not a perfect replica but the texture and color of the fabric is similar. (The Limited has WONDERFUL clothes – extremely well made, very reasonably priced, fashionable, and classic. I have many clothes from here that are very “Kate” and it’s a great store for a classic professional wardrobe!)

    I know you’re always on the look out for “copy Kate’s” for your Pinterest page so I thought I’d pass this along!

  2. Now this is more like it. (:

  3. I think Kate looks beautiful in this colour. I think the earrings may be the diamond teardrops from Heavenly Necklaces where Kate has pearl and diamond earrings from aswell.

    • Hello, and thank you for sharing the information about Kate’s earrings. Unfortunately they are not by Heavenly Necklaces. Belinda (the founder) was asked when these first were seen, and they are not by/from her company. Thank you again! :)

  4. I saw this dress in French Connection yesterday – it is very similar in colour (light forever blue) and shape. http://www.frenchconnection.com/product/Woman+Collections+Dresses/71CZB/Feather+Ruth+Classic+Dress.htm

  5. I like the color, the style (she’s pregnant–it works!), her hair. But the dress quality itself looks like my first attempt making a dress in middle school. The fabric wrinkles and doesn’t allow for clean seaming. Whoever made it should hang his/her head.

    And I detest those suede shoes. If I recall, she’s worn them inappropriately several times. I never mind her wearing those nude pumps over and over again–at least they work for day and night.

  6. It’s perfection!!! She looks so perfect, I love the dress on her, the color, the cut, everything! He hair is lovely too.

  7. The comments on this blog are becoming so negative :( She’s beautiful and the cause she’s supporting is the focus.

    • I don’t agree that they’re negative. And if we didn’t like the Duchess, we wouldn’t be here, bothering to follow what she wears.

      However, this is a fashion blog, and the point of the comments section is for people to express opinions of her fashion. This happens to be a dress that many people feel didn’t work as well as it could have. That doesn’t mean we dislike the Duchess or the cause she is supporting.

    • Isn’t the blog called “What Kate Wore”? I thought the main focus of the blog was her fashion. People are always going to have varying opinions on that. It’s nothing to do with her personally or the causes she supports. Personally I enjoy reading the different takes on what Kate wears.

  8. The fabric looks like matelasse, which is very textured and quite heavy. The patterns in matelasse are achieved by a slight surface puckering, which provides visual texture. (Think seersucker, but in a floral or geometrical pattern, achieved by bonding the puckered silk to a heavier fabric to hold the pattern together). It’s a gorgeous fabric, but is does not drape at all, which is the problem here. I really don’t think this is crepe of any weight.

    • I agree that it appears to be matelasse instead of crepe, but I dont mind the stiffness, as a matter of fact, I think the stiffness of the material is what works to give it that retro 50′s-60′s look. I don’t like drapey fabrics in a dress after the baby bump gets larger, so I find this look to be elegant. The color is lovely and I think her hair and accessories are spot on.
      My only real quibble with this look is that our Duchess is wearing a bit too much blush, and the blush is a bit to pink—she should have used a bronzer or a bronze color blush to blend in better with her skin tones.
      As for the wrinkling that some pointed out, this is just one of those things that all us ladies have to deal with—getting wrinkled from sitting on your skirt in the car. There are some fabrics that are always going to wrinkle, and there is no treatment to prevent it. As these wrinkles don’t really ruin the hang or look of the dress, they don’t really bother me.

      • Agree with you about the retro-look of the fabric. In fact it made me think of a very strange old fabric indeed — otherwise known as, er, Crimplene. There were ladies who quite fell for it back in the ’50s (so I was told, I wasn’t around then, honest, well, only a little bit…)

  9. I’m really trying to like this dress but I just can’t seem to get myself around the odd shape. I like the color but not on her, she looks much better in rich jewel tones.

  10. Kate is gaining confidence ; within few days she has quite change (in my opinion).
    She truly glows ! Maybe she knows she is expecting a baby boy (her wish, I reckon) ?
    The dress is simple in its shape but very elegant.

  11. Perfect. Just perfect.

  12. The fit of this dress is sloppy and the material is too stiff. I just don’t like this dress at all. True maternity wear is shaped and designed differently from the ground up. This dress looks like it’s being forced to be a maternity dress. I feel like she’s missing an opportunity to show some love for designers whose bread and butter is designing maternity wear and could make her look stunning.

  13. I dont think dress looks very well constructed. There’s puckering and billowing all over the place, and the stiffness of the fabric does not suit the a-line skirt shape – the green Emily wickstead dress seems to drape much more easily. Also why are the gathers on the bodice of the dress? considering its the skirt part that has to accommodate the baby bump, you’d think it would make sense to have the architectural events of the dress there… Not good!

  14. I’m afraid I agree with the rest of the posters: fabulous color, problematic design. I would have preferred to see her in something softer, drapier, with a slimmer skirt. It’s certainly possible to create a slim, draped design that isn’t form-fitting and also accommodates a baby bump.

    The stiff fabric with the A-line skirt just doesn’t work for me, and overall, the dress looks badly-sewn. I thought instantly of that yellow coatdress that so many of us disliked, partly because most of us agreed that it looked badly sewn and fitted. Wickstead has created knockout beautiful clothes for her regular lines. It’s a mystery to me why she can’t produce equally well-designed and made bespoke pieces.

    That acid-green Wickstead dress is an example of the designs I admire. I simply don’t think the Duchess’s blue dress really compares with it. A little tweaking, and the acid-green dress could make a good maternity dress, with an elegant slender skirt that would be much more flattering than the blue design.

    I have to add that the hairstyle doesn’t excite me either. That very long, half-up, half-down style is looking very schoolgirlish to me, especially with all the intricate curls. I really wish she’d take a few inches off her hair.

  15. The color is gorgeous, and I like the texture of the fabric. Her hair and makeup are beautiful. I love how the color brings out her eyes.
    But the seams of this dress are problematic, especially they line down the front. I understand the gathering at the empire waist probably gives the Duchess more space- (to breathe, move, baby growth, etc) but it isn’t the most flattering. I like the silhouette of the dress, but I wish the dress were a lighter fabric, or maybe a several layers of a flowing chiffon or an overlay.

  16. I’m from Canada and have been a follower of your blog for MANY MANY years. I am a huge fan of her classic feminine look. The colour of dress is magnificent, her hair is gorgeous, her make-up fits so well… but the cut and design of the dress… look cheap to be really honest. I’m sorry, Kate. I usually really love your look but not this one.

  17. I love her hair and the color is gorgeous on her. The fabric is all wrong. Having been through 4 pregnancies myself, I learned the hard way that stiff fabrics really aren’t your friend when your shape is changing on a daily basis. Empire waist lines were my absolute favorite, but softer fabrics mean that you won’t end up looking like the liberty bell as the fabric will drape instead of making you look even bigger.

    Question for those who know: If a piece is “bespoke”, does the designer “design” it, or does the client? If the client really is the designer, why does the designers’ name go on the final product?

    • A bespoke piece is going to be designed by the designer and client working together. The client might have some idea of what she wants, the designer will come up with some ideas of her own while trying to address the client’s wishes. Or the client will say that she needs a dress for a certain occasion but not have any ideas, and the designer will make suggestions. Over the course of fittings, the client may express her desire for this or that change, the designer may rethink something.

      In other words, it’s a team project, but ultimately the design is produced by the designer and staff in his or her atelier, just with input from the client.

      We’ve also seen the Duchess wear some pieces that were modified from a designer’s original design for a collection. Those, too, can be called “bespoke”.

      • Given that designer and client are indeed supposed to be working together, the odd misfits that have happened when Kate goes bespoke have led me to speculate as to whether she spends enough time at fittings.

        I sometimes wonder if her focus is not so much on clothes as on other things she finds more interesting, like the subject of the speech she gave on this occasion.

  18. Only Kate could do elegant and pregnant so well at one and the same time. I think it’s a fabulous dress, the cut of neckline and shoulders is superb and I love the neckline at the back – so unusual to have a box shape here instead of another generous curve. I also love the gentle pastel colour on her, it enhances the pregnancy bloom no end.

    I really like the texture of the fabric to give a hint of interest, and I’m fascinated how the heaviness of the crepe still manages to hang so naturally.

    I think Kate’s own tumbling locks are a perfect accessory, along with those gorgeous earrings. The whole hairdo is fabulous! I think the outfit needed those lovely grey shoes to set it off a little, though she does seem to have some difficulty knowing what to do with her hands minus a clutch.

    Simply fabulous also to have a proper grown-up maternity frock at last – leaves me wondering yet again if she doesn’t try to do too much on her own without staff to do the legwork.

  19. Okay, I hate to be negative about Kate because I typically enjoy so much about her style. But, I feel like this particualr dress does nothing for her posture. Kate’s shoulders looked rolled forward. And if you look at the other pictures of her in dresses from this designer, Kate certainly has lovely posture.

  20. She looks beautiful and elegant. Perhaps a scarf, pin, or necklace to further attract attention to her lovely, healthy and happy face would have added interest. I am so happy to see a pregnant woman who is not showing me every detail of her growing belly. Somethings are not meant to be shared with the world.

  21. I love her hair and outfit and her glowing baby bump! The dress colour is perfection

  22. Catherine looked absolutely radiant!! This is definitely one of my favorite colors on her. I also really liked the gray/blue smoky eye make-up. I don’t think it was too matchy-matchy with the dress. The color and “sheen” of the fabric are just so elegant in my opinion. I can see what others are talking about in regards to the seams and shape looking a bit odd at times, but I’m thinking since this is a bespoke piece it was made ahead of time. I think if that is the case, it had to be made with a certain “guess” as to how her body would be at this time and perhaps it was assumed she would be “bigger” at this point? I can’t imagine this was a dress put together a few days before so that’s the only thing I can think of. I personally am a big fan of Emilia Wickstead and have loved when Catherine wears her clothes. Her hair looked wonderful tonight as well and I can’t wait for the next few appearances. Good for the Duchess making all these appearances before their baby is due. Hopefully this will satisfy the public in regards to her work ethic :)

  23. The dress is a beautiful color, but I am not a fan of the heavy crepe material. In general Emilia Wickstead pieces seem very dowdy and uninspired. And the blue eyeshadow and blue pumps may be a bit of overkill. I think her trademark nude pumps would have worked better.

  24. The cut, fabric and style are really neat! It’s a maternity dress, and it looks really funky and flattering without trying to hide her shape – that’s hard to pull off! The only thing I would change would be to top-stitch the seams. The bulky fabric could use a bit of taming. But that’s all. Cool dress.

  25. I wish she were a bit more of a magpie. A diamond broach would have been just the thing.

  26. Absolutely love her hair, it made her speech fantastic :-D

  27. I have enjoyed watching Kate adapt her style as the weeks of her pregnancy progress. She has chosen some different pieces, but she has looked fabulous in all of them… until this occasion! Her face and hair were both beautiful, but who told her that the dress was a good idea? I love the color, something that we all know is not new to Kate, but the cut and style is SO sad. I know pregnancy changes things, but there are too many options out there; there has got to be something better than this!

  28. I absolutely loved this look. The color was lovely and I really like all the accessories. I think the tightness in the bust is just due to her growing bust, can’t be helped. I also enjoyed her facial expressions in the photos, she seemed really excited to be there. Do we think the earrings are a pregnancy gift from William or parents?

  29. The color is beautiful on Kate as we all know from times she has worn similar light blue garments. However the wrinkling of the backside of the skirt of the dress while riding to the event in the car left her wrinkled for the entire reception – this is an inexcusable execution of fabrication/handling of fabric used in this dress. All expensive dresses undergo the ‘wrinkle test’ and if need be, lining can be used, sizing on the fabric or other fabric treatment. To send her out for an event all wrinkled for the evening is a huge foe-paw by the designer Wickstead that just should never happen coming out of a design house of that caliber.

    • Beautiful dress and lovely fit. However, I could not agree more in terms of the wrinkling! That was the one thing I first noticed! Totally unexcusable!

    • beachgal – I completely agree with you! The tailoring and fabric should be impeccable. I am not a fan of Ms. Wickstead. I love seeing the duchess in McQueen.

  30. Gorgeous dress. The style flatters her and the color is divine!

  31. The dress was done in a nice color. It looks very nice with her dark hair, and it’s great to see her in this unexpected version of blue. But I agree with other comments that the seams and hems seem really poorly done. I also agree that the fit of the bodice is not what you’d expect in a custom piece.

    I have been waiting and waiting for Kate to get back on track with her style choices. From just after her engagement to just after her wedding was such a glorious time for her, sartorially. She consistently looked great in her well-tailored pieces with perfect-length hemlines, and she changed up her hair styles often enough.

    All down hill from there, in my opinion. Now, there usually seems to be something that is “off” and sours her overall look. What was she doing before that she has stopped doing now? Is it she who has bad taste, or is she taking suggestions from someone who shouldn’t be doling out fashion advice? Geez.

    And, I’m sorry, blue eyeshadow with her blue dress today? Am I seeing things?

    • I agree with you. There is always something just missing from Kate’s satorial choices that keep them in my opinion from being home runs. I am just not liking the length of the outfits she has recently worn – too short and the tailoring hasn’t been there. This dress was the perfect length. I would like to see her get some new shoes, use more accessories and try some different styles (even sleek pony tails and buns) with her beautiful hair.

    • I couldn’t agree more. What has happened to her style recently?

      • She’s pregnant. That’s what happened to her style recently.

        I do wish she had worn a chiffon gown, it’s way more accommodating for her baby bump. She is glowing!

        • You ladies read my mind!!

          CJ: I would *love* to see her in a pony tail, just as when she wore the McQueen sailor-inspired dress on her Canada tour (think that was it). It looked chic, neat, and beautiful, all while preventing her from touching her hair all the time as she usually does.

          Lauren: I agree with you, as well. Chiffon would have been so lovely, especially in the color she wore here. The dress could have been amazing if done in a different fabric.

          • JL – I was thinking about the green Mulberry dress many people disliked. I think it would have looked better with the sleek ponytail, unbuttoned several notches, pointy toe shoes and some gold bangles. I realize she’s pregnant but most of the time I feel that she is just one step away from greatness even before the baby.

          • I love the color! Reminds me a little of the dove grey or lavender Roksanda Ilincic dress.

            The cut and the fabric weren’t terrible. The dress was too plain but that could be fixed with a brooch or pearl necklace with matching earrings. Jackie O. is essentially in the same thing yet her necklace and gloves take a boring sheath dress from ‘blah to tah-dah!’ ;)

            Would have worn different shoes (Light grey dress, dark grey shoes? Uh, no.) and a high pony-tail to show off the back of the dress.

  32. I really like her makeup–especially the eyeshadow!

  33. She really looks radiant here! I’m in love with the color, the empire waist gathering and the back. I am decidedly NOT in love with the seaming down the front of the skirt. It causes a weird, lampshade like shape from certain angles. Aside from the green coat that I adore, something about the tailoring of Emilia wickstead’s pieces had felt off to me every time (worst on the primrose coatdress, one of my all time least favorite duchess looks!). Regardless, though, the color and texture on the fabric look wonderful on her, and she’s styled beautifully. I know some will quibble with suede shoes in spring, but I think it’s a nice anchor for the look. The earrings are wonderful, too. And the hair and makeup are just perfection.

  34. I really want to love this dress, but I just don’t. I thought I did at first. The color is beautiful, and her make-up and hair look really pretty. The earrings compliment the dress perfectly. The neckline is so simple, though, I think a necklace (like in the picture of Jackie Kennedy) would have been I nice addition. I was also bothered by all the pleating/gathering around the waist. It looks like a too-big shirt has been tucked into a skirt. Finally I did not think the shade of the shoes did much for the dress, though I appreciate the attempt at something different. Kate looked really lovely and healthy and that is nice to see. Thanks so much for your work here. It’s always a treat to read your descriptions.

  35. Color is GORGEOUS and looked amazing on Kate. The dress needed a little something else though… like a ribbon belt around the waist or something to break up the pattern.

  36. This could be a lovely dress if it wasn’t made by Ms. Wickstead. Just like the other dresses worn by Kate this one has sloppy tailoring with seams and hemlines all over the place. Such a shame. Kate looks great as always, although I would rather see some more pronounced accessories with this style of dress and shoes or just a contrasting color like navy blue.

    • I agree! The tailoring here is terrible, with that seem in the front. And tha fabric seems too stiff for this kind of dress. The color looks pretty on her tough.

    • My guess is this is constructed to fit at full pregnancy and has been taken in which is why the fit looks a little off, paticularly the rear hem.

  37. She looks lovely in this shade of blue and I love her hair tonight! I’m not a big fan of the gathering at the empire waist, though. But overall a great look!

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