Sep 122013

Kate chose a Jenny Packham gown for tonight’s inaugural Tusk Conservation Awards.

Splash News

Splash News

The glittering event took place at the Royal Society in London, CNN’s David Wilkinson shared this photo of guests arriving on the red carpet.

David Wilkinson, CNN (@DWilkinsonCNN)

David Wilkinson, CNN (@DWilkinsonCNN)

William has been Tusk’s Royal Patron since 2005, below he is seen with Prince Harry on a 2010 trip to visit Tusk projects in Botswana.

Tusk Trust

Tusk Trust

Prince William spoke about the couple’s night away from Prince George in his remarks at the podium:

“As you might have gathered, Catherine and I have recently become proud parents – of a baby who has a voice to match any lion’s roar.

“This is actually our first evening out without him, so please excuse us if you see us nervously casting cheeky glances at our mobile phones to check all is well back home.”

More on tonight’s Awards from The Telegraph:

The winners of the two awards – Lifetime Achievement Award and the Conservation Award, the latter for an “up-and-coming conservationist” – receive cash contributions to their projects of, respectively, £30,000 and £15,000, as well as the trophies presented by the Duke of Cambridge.

Investec Asset Management helped sponsor tonight’s awards, they shared a photo of Prince William presenting Clive Stockil the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in Zimbabwe, where Mr. Stockil has worked on conservation efforts for more than forty years.


Investec UK Twitter Feed

The Conservation Award went to Tom Lalampaa for his work with the Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya.

Tusk Awards

Tusk Awards

More about Mr. Lalampaa’s work from a Tusk news release:

…his outstanding work brokering peace through conservation amongst feuding tribal groups in northern Kenya. Lalampaa has been key to creating a conservation area of 3 million acres under the Northern Rangelands Trust, benefiting over 150,000 people. The NRT is recognized as the leading model for community conservation in Kenya.

Kate as she arrived at the event.

Doug Peters/PA Wire

Doug Peters/PA Wire

We had quite a time with Kate’s gown. Once we knew that it was by Jenny Packham the search began to see precisely which dress it was. Initially we thought it was this gown from 2011, but then decided that was not the case. Jenny Packham says this *is* the dress, please see update below.

Jenny Packham

Jenny Packham

Then we thought it was a No. 1 Jenny Packham for Debenhams dress. No. 1 is the designer’s diffusion line for the retailer, a collection we have written about previously. Here is a look at the front of the Debenhams frockand Kate’s dress.

Kate Tusk Awards Side by Side No 1 Jenny Packham Debenhams Sequin Dress Splash

Debenhams/Splash News

And the back.

Debenhams/Splash News

Debenhams/PA Wire

The No. 1 dress is described this way:

This gold designer maxi dress from No1 by Jenny Packham is embellished with sequins and beaded patterns at the front of the high waist.

The dress is polyester with a boat neckline and concealed zipper in the back. It originally retailed for £225 (about $350) and was then discounted by 20% USD.

However, there is an obvious distinction between the Debenhams embellishment and what was on Kate’s dress just below the bust. Kate’s more closely matches this ornament, seen on the 2011 gown.



At this point we don’t know precisely which dress Kate is wearing, or if she is wearing an entirely bespoke piece from the designer. I can’t imagine Kate (or a Palace seamstress) attaching the ornamentation from the older gown to a $350 dress, so we’ll have to wait for the definitive answer from Jenny Packham. As soon as we hear we will update.


Us Weekly has information about Kate’s dress in its story on Thursday’s event:

Although similar to an existing design, the Duchess’ dress was custom-made, and costs approximately $6,300 in U.S. currency.


From the Jenny Packham Facebook page:

London, England – The Duchess of Cambridge attended The Tusk Conservation Awards wearing a full length pale gold sequin evening gown with crystal motif.

Jenny Packham Facebook Page

Jenny Packham Facebook Page

Anna of My Small Obsessions posted a question on the page asking what specific style the dress is, here is the response:

This dress is not bespoke and was available to buy, however it sold out before The Duchess of Cambridge wore it last night.

When asked on the Facebook page if it was the dress shown below (and also above), Anna was told “yes,” it is this dress.  You can just see a hint of the nude fabric insert in the photo on the right.

The dress description included these details: “All-over sequin embellishment, bateau neckline, figure-hugging silhouette, floor length with a brooch-accented empire waist and back keyhole detail.”

Many noted the nude panel under Kate’s arms.

PA Wire

PA Wire

Fortunately WKW Facebook friends shared why the panels are there: as a way of minimizing or preventing the skin irritation that comes from being continually rubbed against the sequins. That is something I did not know. It is immensely sensible, although I can’t imagine the nude inserted fabric is meant to be this visible. UPDATE: Some comments note the fabric inserts on the side seams are meant to be this visible.

The Duchess accessorized with her Vamp sandals by Jimmy Choo.

Doug Peters/PA Wire

Doug Peters/PA Wire

They remain available at Jimmy Choo for $795. Kate also wore the diamond bracelet we have seen previously & the matching earrings, although it was difficult to see because of her hair.

Splash News

Splash News

She did not carry a handbag this evening.


Earlier in the day there was big news from the Palace, with an official statement that after 7-1/2 years of service, William has left the military.

He will continue to support the work of The Queen and the Royal Family through a programme of official engagements, both at home and overseas, with The Duchess of Cambridge.

The Duke will continue to work with his charities on issues relating to children and young people, veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces. The Duke is currently considering a number of options for public service, a further announcement on which will follow in due course.

This does not mean Kate and/or William are going to become full-time working royals, officials are referring to it as a “transitional year” for the Duke. It was a bit of a surprise as many thought William would be leaving his position in Anglesey with the RAF to take up another position in the military, a part-time position. The Palace also said the couple will be moving into their Kensington Palace apartment in the next few weeks.

There was another Palace announcement almost immediately, revealing that Prince William is now heading up a newly formed coalition of influential conservation organizations called United for Wildlife. Participating groups include the World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy.

United for Wildlife

United for Wildlife

This Sunday (the 15th) both CNN and ITV will air documentaries showcasing Prince William’s conservation concerns and work, as well as accomplishments of tonight’s Tusk Award nominees and winners. CNN’s Max Foster says the show will also look at William in his newest role, that of a father.



Prince William’s Passion: New Hope, New Father” airs on CNN this Sunday (the 15th) at 10pm EDT. More in a review from TV By The Numbers:

In the film, Prince William recalls how his love for Africa was born, remembering his late mother Princess Diana when she returned from her trips: “She would come back with all these stories and full of excitement and just passion for what she had been doing and I sort of used to sit there, quite a sort of surprised little boy at the time, taking it all in.”

CNN has released a portion of the program, click here to view the video. Below, one more photo of William and Kate, this is as they are leaving the function.

Splash News and Pictures

Splash News and Pictures


Also today, a taste of what we have been seeing at Fashion Week. New York’s week just wrapped up, London Fashion Week officially gets underway tomorrow. We’ll be sharing news and spring 2014 styles by Kate’s favorite designers, tonight we share styles from the Jenny Packham collection just shown in New York.  Jessica Vince of Grazia caught up with the designer in New York, asking about her reaction when learning Kate wore one of her designs when leaving the hospital with Prince George. More from her story:

‘I was in Japan on holiday at the time,’ Packham told us backstage at her show. ‘It was the middle of the night when I first saw pictures of her in the dress so I was frustrated not to there and be a part of it.’ But that doesn’t mean the Brit designer didn’t celebrate like the rest of us. ‘I was very excited and it was such a lovely moment to involved in. It was quite surreal, actually’. We can imagine!

James Whatling/Splash News

James Whatling/Splash News

Just before things got underway Grazia tweeted this picture of actress Christina Hendricks arriving for the runway show, she is best known for her role in Mad Men.

Grazia Live

Grazia UK Twitter Feed

Jenny Packham posted a Facebook photo of the actress with TV presenter Louise Roe. Ms. Roe is said to be wearing a sugar pink tea length skirt from this fall’s collection, along with an embellished top from spring 2013. Ms, Hendricks is in a beaded cocktail in montera blue, on the right we show what looks like a full-length version of that frock currently shown at Stylebop.

Jenny Packham FB/Stylebop

Jenny Packham FB/Stylebop

Fashion and style blogger Sydne Summer posted several photos from the show on her Instagram feed, noting the number of chartreuse garments she has seen this week at a variety of shows.

Sydne Summer Instagram

Sydne Summer Instagram

She also shared this picture, noting “Definitely see Kate Middleton in this Jenny Packham fit-for-a-princess gown”.

Sydne Summer Instagram

Sydne Summer Instagram

The Fashion Adroit tweeted “With only one super chic muse, uhhh uhhh, princess in mind!!!” as the caption for these three styles.

Diana Pereira/The Fashion Adroit

Diana Pereira/The Fashion Adroit

The Grazia story reports that inspiration for the spring collection is a 1975 Australian film “Picnic at Hanging Rock.” Below, four styles as they came down the catwalk.

Jenny Packham Courtesy Photos via Grazia

Jenny Packham Courtesy Photos via Grazia

Signature touches were evident throughout the collection: floaty, light, almost weightless fabrics, intricate beading and lines designed to flatter.

Jenny Packham Courtesy Photos via Grazia

Jenny Packham Courtesy Photos via Grazia

The retro feel could be seen in the big bows and full skirts.

Jenny Packham Courtesy Photos via Grazia

Jenny Packham Courtesy Photos via Grazia

It definitely isn’t for everyone, but I am a fan of the Hollywood waistline seen on the trousers below, reminiscent of Katherine Hepburn’s understated elegance.

Courtesy Photos via Grazia

Courtesy Photos via Grazia

There are many more looks for next spring I think you will enjoy seeing, click here for the entire Grazia story.


  49 Responses to “Kate Shimmers in Jenny Packham at Tusk Awards, Palace Announcements on William’s Future (UPDATED)”

  1. You were referring to Prince George the second time, right?! :)

    “Prince William spoke about the couple’s night away from Prince William in his remarks at the podium”

  2. Love the dress.

  3. Hello! I may be a bit off-base here, it will be for the Royal Watchers to decide; but it occurred to me the nude lining of the back may have been added to the dress as a modesty-measure. Perhaps it may be considered too cheeky for the Mother of the Future Heir to the Throne to show her skin in such a way, particularly her back. We have become accustomed to “letting it all hang out”, but her position does call for a certain amount of discretion in her appearance and presentation. If any here turn back the history pages, Princess Diana did not show skin until the first time she appeared in public after her announced separation from Prince Charles.

    • Diana actually wore plenty of evening dresses that showed some skin well before the separation — off the shoulder dresses, one-shoulder dresses, low-back dresses. While a certain amount of decorum does need to be observed, an open-back evening dress wouldn’t violate it, and there’s no particular rule regarding the amount of skin the mother of the heir can show. (The Queen herself wore strapless dresses when she was young.) As I mentioned I have a dress that has exactly that same design on the back, and I’ve seen a number of other dresses that have it. It’s not a modesty measure, just an interesting design feature.

  4. Ok, I know I am a bit off topic, but Daily Mail is reporting that Cambridges are in Scotland, and a picture is to be taken with four generations of royals and three generations of heirs to the throne – apparently, last time it happened over a hundred years ago, when Queen Victoria was photographed with her son, grandson, and great-grandson. I am so curious what the protocol is – are they going to be dressed casually or formally? Will Kate have to wear a dress, or is she going to be in her jeans and tweed jacket??? I suspect the former!

  5. Coming in a bit late – I loved the dress, and the pairing with the Jimmy Choo shoes…what dazzled most was her smile :)

  6. I LOVE this dress – it’s gorgeous! It’s a different look altogether – She looks mature, sophisticated and appropriate …and as many have said: Radiant! William also looks so happy and very dapper in his new suit. Beautiful couple.

  7. I am in the minority here, but this whole ensemble earned 5 gold stars in my book. I love the dress, particularly because it is such a departure from dresses the Duchess has worn in the past. I believe this dress represents the Duchess trying something new and taking a fashion risk, one that paid off, at least in my opinion. I’ll admit that I’m surprised I find the dress so alluring, as I’ve never been a fan of sequins; however, occasionally a garment just works and you fall in love despite how much it differs from your usual tastes. I’m also quite partial to the nude paneling. The nude panels, especially the back, give the dress a fashion-forward feel and prevent it from traipsing into costume territory. I am really pleased with the Duchess’s hair, particularly the way it is styled straighter with the curls more towards the bottom than throughout the entire length. I was not keen on her bangs originally, but I think they look lovely grown out in this way. Also, has she had her hair colored? It looks more vibrant than it did during the last outing. I also think her makeup is a success, though I wish she would branch out and try different lip colors. I would have chosen a pink with a teensy bit more pizazz.

    • AshleyOlivia, I agree with you completely!!! I couldn’t have articulated my thoughts better! And yes, I do think she had it colored shortly before the event, her ombre color was getting a bit brassy. Love the return to chocolate brown!

    • Thanks for putting it so well AshleyOlivia! I liked the outfit too. I’ve seen others comment that they don’t rate all-over sequins, and I see their point, but this is such a classy take on that style that it becomes another feature of the ordinary-turned-classy alongside the likes of exposed panels. I think some of the minor distortions I thought I saw in the bodice were not only due to it being adapted to Kate’s present figure, but also some of the angles of the photographs, taken in small spaces. In many pictures everything looks fine!

  8. I really love Jenny Packham’s clothes. They are very pretty and most body types can wear most of them. I also think Kate looks lovely in that sparkly dress and I can’t understand people who say it’s looks “ill fitting.” It’s looks to me to fit quite well and it doesn’t make Kate look larger, as someone said, Kate IS larger. She has not gotten back to her pre-baby weight yet but she does look radiant, healthy and very happy. It was good to see her again.

  9. Her gown is gorgeous!

  10. Many of you have said it already, but I’ll add a voice to the ‘meh’ crowd. While it’s a beautiful dress (especially the photograph of just the dress!) it really didn’t fit her body well. The shape was not flattering at all. After seeing pictures of how great she looks post-baby, this gown seems to make her look more out of shape. I think the way the top hangs really didn’t do her thin figure any justice. A shame really.

    That being said, I agree with others that she looks radiant!

  11. I think she looked lovely, however, I think that the nude panels are smart…when she is back to her normal figure, the sides of the dress can be nipped in, and therefore show less of the inserts.

    Just a thought.

  12. Just wanted to point out that David’s Bridal carries a bracelet that looks a lot like the one the Duchess wears:

  13. Hmm. I’m not a fan of the all-sequin look in evening dress — it’s always a bit too much for my tastes. Moreover, I decided when the Duchess wore that silver satin one-shouldered dress some time ago that silver was not her color. (This dress looks silver to me, whereas the diffusion line version looks pale gold.) Somehow, the dress isn’t making quite the splash for me as it is for others, and I do think the color is one of the reasons. It just doesn’t flatter her.

    I do like the lines of the dress — very sleek and sophisticated, so that they help offset the glitz. The side panels don’t bother me at all, and I like the design of the back. In fact, a I own a Reiss dress that has a virtually identical back. People often comment on how interesting it looks.

    But despite all the sparkle, she looks a bit “blah”. Her make-up is very subdued, and I think she could have ramped it up a bit, worn slightly more vibrant shades I also think that a dress with these lines may have called for an interesting updo — a sleek chignon, instead of the more casual look of the long hair. Finally, she needed to carry a bag. Her empty hands look awkward.

    Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a bad look at all, just “off” in various ways.

    Packham does lovely evening looks (not exactly my style but pretty), but I’m not excited by her day wear. And though I like the Hollywood trousers — I’ve always appreciated that style — the long shirtdress design for evening is NOT attractive, nor is the tie-neck blouse tucked into a long skirt. Unfortunate.

    • you are right Lili she needed her hair up would be far more elegant and a clutch

    • I agree Lil. Undoubtedly, Catherine is a beautiful woman. But for a formal event — especially one recorded in a documentary — I think her look could be better styled. Her free flowing hair, casual make-up, and dress fit fail to capitalize on her assets or speak to the importance of this occasion. At best, I think it’s a C+.

      Also, I don’t accept the explanation for the nude inserted fabric. I wear sequined gowns, and have never experience any friction or skin irritation. Dressed in a form fitted gown, one’s arm movements are not strenuous or athletic. I’d avoid sequins for horseback riding, running a marathon or caring for a baby Prince.

      - K

  14. The Duchess has really come back to us in sparkling style – this is a sensational outfit. I have to admit I’m relieved as I’d wondered if the arrival of HRH Baby George might take her mind off matters sartorial, but this one’s as sharp as you like.

    It’s a clever choice of dress style for post-pregnancy — clinching in at midriff and allowing extra for chest and tummy, and the multi-coloured sequins are fabulous. I really like the openings that show the undergarment as I think they rescue the dress from being too much Hollywood starlet and add a welcome touch of street cred.

    My one quibble would be that there seems to be a little too much fullness where the bodice is gathered into the midriff which, with the added weight of all those sequins, is a little too matronly. But overall I’d say this look is a winner – perfect hair, make-up and accessories – distinctive, classic and memorable, just as Kate does best.

  15. She is lovely as always, but this dress was not her best look. It looked like it had been altered to accomodate her current size. Someone should have steered her in a different direction tonight. That said, she looks beautiful and happy.

    • Agreed. Kate looked beautiful, but the dress did not. I thought it didn’t flatter her figure at all, and the nude inserts looked odd.

  16. After I had my baby, my hair was never the same. Maybe she’s having the same issue??? The dress, although beautiful, was a bit much for my liking. It seems like the cut/fit isn’t quite as flattering.

  17. Any idea on her manicure or pedicure? There isn’t much color on either nails but I wonder if they are completely bare, a nude/pink color, or a French manicure.

  18. My Royals & Hollywood Fashion has a shot of her earrings :)

  19. I absolutely LOVED this dress! I have not been this blown away since the teal Jenny Packham gown. I love a little(a lot) sparkle. She looked stunning and I don’t think we have ever seen her in anything this flashy. Now that Will is going to be doing more royal work, maybe that means more gowns :D

  20. Fantastic post – as usual! Even though I’ve been on fb for a lot of the day, I hadn’t read yet about “United for Wildlife” so I learned something new in addition to thorough coverage of Kate’s gown :)

  21. She looked stunning – however, her hair has been giving me the sads ever since she hooked up with Amanda Cook-Tucker. Where oh where are Richard Pryce and/or James Ward when you need them? Ever since last year’s tour – which was all Cook-Tucker’s work – you can really see the difference in volume, curls, and shine. Her blowouts are just sub-par.

    • I agree 100%. They did such a better job with her hair even when it was left down for a formal occasion (the Ark gala comes to mind since her hair was left down but looked sensational).

  22. I’m going to guess that it was the older, more expensive gown. Close-ups of the Debenhams version show that it has far fewer sequins, consistent with its cheaper fabrication.

  23. I love the dress from the front and the back, however I think the nude panels are a little distracting and unseemly. However overall it was a good look for her and since the sequence are so distracting and it makes it hard to get a clean line in a photo it was a great dress to hide a post baby recovering body in!

    I love Jenny Packham’s shows, but I am not a fan of the chartreuse color. Probably because it looks so horrific on me personally. I do love the greys, pinks and ice blues though!

    • I just realized I spelled sequins wrong in my comment. Gah!

    • Amy, I feel exactly the same way. I agree with katefanatic that the panels are designed to show, but I still think they are distracting and cheapen the look of the dress. I don’t like the panel showing in the back either, although from the front the gown looks gorgeous and the cut is just what Kate needs at the moment.

      I also agree with Melissa that it must be the older, more expensive version.

      And thanks to Susan for another outstanding post and analysis and a very relevant fashion week update. I live in New York, but sadly, have no way to actually get in.

      • I think that if the liner had not been so sheer it would not have looked so, well, cheap. A thicker lining would have looked more like an intentional part of the dress. You could see her bra strap through the back piece, and that’s just not right.

  24. Was anyone else suprised she didn’t one of her signature clutches tonight? I am so used to them when she goes out, it is always a surprise not to see one

  25. Not a fan of the visible nude panels. The top of the gown also seems a bit ill-fitting; I understand it’s supposed to billow out but I think it could have been taken it a bit more. She wisely kept the jewelry simple. This is a step down from the lovely Packham gowns she’s worn previously, but she looks beautiful as always.

  26. I respectfully disagree about the lining—I believe that the dress was designed for the lining to show. If you look at the pictures of the gown on the store’s website, it does show. Also, the holes for her arms are slashed to her waist–without the lining, her breasts would be quite visible, given how loose the neckline/bodice is cut.
    I like the gown, but feel that an updo would have looked so much better on the Duchess. Overall, she is stunning and I am sure it is hard to look this great with a 6 week old child at home.

    • I agree that the slip lining is supposed to show. Sequined fabric is incredibly heavy, and has to be lined to support the weight of the garment. The waistline would sag and there wouldn’t be the blouson effect if it were not lined. The draped and gathered panels front and back are pretty and are certainly the designer’s intended look.

    • I agree, it’s designed so the lining panels would show. I think the problem lies in the material or color they used for lining material. In pictures at least, it looks like slip material that shouldn’t show, so it gives it a cheap feel. If they’d used a different fabric, or a slightly different color, it might look more “purposeful,” like a beautiful part of the dress that you want to see. Perhaps if we saw it in real life, the material would look different, like silk or something nice.

      That said, it’s nice that is does have that. I’m always a little horrified when I see some red carpet looks that are slip up and down to there. One little sneeze or a bit of a breeze, and they could get a citation. Seriously, unless the show is actually in a country where nudity is appropriate, cover your business! Sorry, little rant there.

    • I agree that the side and back panels are all meant to show — part of a general trend about for everything from frayed edge hems, reversed out zips &c. I like the panels myself, but I suspect the side ones were a tad wider on this outing to accommodate a temporarily fuller figure, and possibly causing some small distortion to the bodice overall.

  27. I have read a few different articles that say the dress was not entirely bespoke. Jenny Packham took an existing dress and then tailored it for Kate. Im not sure how acurate that is, but that is what other sites keep reporting. Also stating that it was around 3000 pounds.

    Kate looked happy tonight and Im glad she is back out and about. Though I am not a big fan of sequin dresses. I don’t think they look that good on any woman. They just do not give enough shape and form. I like the back of her dress better than the front. I just wish she would wear her hair up more-it would have looked nice for tonight since the back was so pretty and appropriate for the event. I like her hair down, it is just a nice change when she wears it up.

  28. maybe it’s time to own some Jenny Packham’s stock…LOL The Duchess looks gorgeous~

  29. Thank you so much for this wonderful post, Susan! So many of us were so excited to see what Kate would wear tonight.

    Just a note–I, too, was wondering what about Kate’s earrings (Annoushka pearls?! Diamonds matching the bracelet?). The Daily Mail has great photos from inside the gala, and she is wearing the matching diamond cluster drop earrings:

  30. Kate looks lovely with her stunning figure and pretty glowing face. It is not my fave dress though due to the top and I wish she would have worn her hair up in a more elegant updo.

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