Apr 102014

We are back with a brief update on what Kate wore to the State reception at Government House, a bespoke cocktail dress by Jenny Packham. The evening’s highlight was Kate and William’s unveiling of a new portrait of Her Majesty by New Zealand artist Nick Cuthell.

Photography by Woolf/Crown Copyright

Photography by Woolf/Crown Copyright

Those with a good eye for detail may have noticed the fern brooch HM is wearing in the portrait. It is the same pin worn by Kate atop her red Catherine Walker coat on Monday, loaned to the Duchess for this trip.  Again this evening Kate demonstrated her skill at sending messages of respect and sensitivity through what she wears, her dress had an intricately embroidered fern on the left shoulder.

Arthur Edwards/Splash News

Arthur Edwards/Splash News

Kate’s dress is knee-length, it has long sleeves and a modified bateau neckline, not to mention the exquisitely embroidered left shoulder. We hope to have larger pictures to share in another hour or two.

Prince William made a brief speech at the function, the The Mirror’s story has some of his remarks:

“Thank you also for hosting Catherine, George and me during our time in New Zealand. I hope that George doesn’t keep you up!

“He’s at his most vocal at 3am, as you may have noticed – I swear I heard him doing the haka this morning.

Robin Nunn/Nunn Syndication/Polaris

Robin Nunn/Nunn Syndication/Polaris

The Duchess wore her trusty Jimmy Choo Cosmic heels. The pumps are available at Jimmy Choo for $695, and at Net-a-Porter, also selling at $695.

Kate Jimmy Choo Cosmic Platform Pumps

UPDATED: Kate accessorized with her diamond bracelet, I don’t yet know what earrings she wore and the consensus is they are the matching pair to the bracelet.  Below we show them from previous events.

PA Wire

PA Wire


We have an update on the Tory Burch ‘Paulina’dress Kate wore for Tuesday’s Plunket New Zealand playdate.

Tory Burch Paulina Dress at Net-a-Porter

Tory Burch Paulina Dress at Net-a-Porter

It looks like the dress will be re-issued through Net-a-Porter UK, at least from the looks of things. The screen grab is from this morning, I will try to check later today to verify this is the case.




  • Late morning: William and Kate fly to Auckland
  • Visit the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) base in Whenuapai, informal meet and greet with base personnel and their families
  • 12:15pm / 8:15pm EDT / 5:15pm PDT:  Travel into the city centre, arriving at headquarters of Emirates Team New Zealand, participants (and winners) of many America’s Cup racing meets
    • 1-3pm / 11pm EDT / 8pm PDT: Kate & William are taken to two separate boats for some informal races (what may be referred to in the US as ‘sprints’) against each other (This is reminiscent of the couple competing against each other in a Dragon Boat race during 2011′s North American Tour.)
    • Return to shore
  • Go back into the Harbour aboard a Sealegs, an ingenious amphibious vehicle that was invented in New Zealand
  • Return to Air Force base, return to Wellington


  • the full version of William’s speech at the State reception is on YouTube here
  • NEWS has posted a video story about the State reception, you can see it here 
  • the Telegraph’s slide show of photos from Day 4 of the tour can be seen here
  • the Mirror‘s running blog coverage from Day 4 of the tour is here

  35 Responses to “Kate in Custom Jenny Packham for State Reception”

  1. I agree that I think this dress should have had an updo, it would have shown off the fern design much more effectively. I don’t get the comments about the hemline though… longer hemlines don’t necessarily mean dowdy. I think it is a lovely throwback vintage style. It reminds me of the hemlines of the 1930s. It is very elegant and sophisticated. I would rather see Kate wearing hemlines like this then some of the ones that she’s worn in the past where they have been practically mid thigh. Much more appropriate. You don’t always have to show a ton of skin to look sexy and attractive.

  2. Dressed for success!

  3. It would have gone a long way if she had taken this opportunity to showcase NZ designers instead of sporting the NZ emblem on a non-NZ designed dress. I mean its nice and all but I’m sure showcasing NZ talent and design would have served as a huge boost, economically and in terms of exposure.

    • I agree with you completely, the fern embroidery was a bit much I think, especially so soon after wearing the brooch. A dress from a NZ designer would have been a much better choice for this event.
      I applaud her longer hemlines and shorter heels, she looks so much more professional, but she still has a tendency to wear costumes sometimes. The red coat with the box hat was very much like a costume too in my opinion.

    • Having purchased premium designers before (both of NZ–such as World and Karen walker– and internationally — dolce &gabbana, vivienne Westwood, Bally, Burberry, Issa, Chanel, roland mouret, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Diane Von furstenberg, etc), I have to say that I am not surprised that New Zealand designers have been excluded to date (aside from today’s Emilia wickstead dress). I hope nobody takes offense, but NZ creations do not seem to bear the same level of craftsmanship, compared to foreign premium designers, in their clothing. I’ve noticed this in the way items are sewn, the quality of the fabric, and lining. As a result of these issues, I stopped buying nz designers about three years ago. Perhaps this has improved more recently.

  4. Following up on Michael’s comments, wouldn’t it have been wonderful for Prince William to wear a gray suit. It would have coordinated so nicely with Kate’s dress. Prince Charles dresses so nicely, in muted tones. Prince William would also look good in other colors besides navy, which looks a bit harsh on him sometimes. Love the Duchess dress tonight.

  5. Hello,

    For those out there who are interested in getting a look a like black dress, similar to the one Kate wore to the evening reception, Ann Taylor is selling a dress in blue and in black at only $59 (down from $109) It is on their website, http://www.anntaylor.com and it is described, as Crepe 3/4 Sleeve Flare Dress. Good Luck :)

  6. The Duchess looks smart – I wouldn’t call this one of my best evening dresses but it will stand the test of time and so far all the clothes she’s chosen look elegant and classy. Kate could wear this dress well into her 40-50s and knowing how careful the Middletons and some of the royals are, there is a lot of thought going into her selection of clothes now. Having said that, she always looks cheerful and smiles easily – this demeanour will carry her in good stead through the years.

  7. Thank you, thank you for all the great posts and pictures! It’s hard to get work done with the Royal Tour going on, what a treat. Have to say Kate is on top of her game this tour. She appears to be back to her old self. The hair, skin and make up look fabulous!! Love the wardrobe as well. It’s taking a little bit for me to accept the longer hemlines because she has a such a great figure but she pulls them off well. I’d love to see her in some pencil skirt suits similiar to the navy blue suit she wore prior to the wedding. She looks so classy in those but overall she looks wonderful as well as William and Prince George. Can’t wait for more!

  8. Love the dress but if the hem was a bit higher, it would have looked amazing. I disagree with an up do though. She has such beautiful hair.

  9. I am not sure if this has been addressed before, but I thought Royal women were not supposed to wear black, unless at funerals. I remember when Diana did at an event with Princess Grace and everyone made a big deal about it being a faux-paus. Is this now acceptable for them? I’m just curious….

    • Hi Lynn, that’s a great question. To the best of my knowledge there wasn’t ever a rigid, formal sort of edict, it was one of those things that just wasn’t done. Over the years many senior royals have articulated personal philosophies related to wardrobe color; HM is said to wear bright colors because she believes people wouldn’t recognize her if she didn’t. From a practical standpoint it makes sense as well, she is so small it helps people spot her in a crowd. And I believe there have been other royals who spoke of reasons to wear brighter tones – wanting to be bright and cheery rather than depressing or dour. This is particularly relevant because so many of their engagements are with people/institutions where it is inherently difficult to be upbeat, hospitals and other charities treating fatal illnesses. Back to Diana’s black gown by the Emmanuels, there was a related issue: how low-cut it was, at a time when Diana was a little heavier than people might remember her.
      However, there are many readers with far better backgrounds in fashion history and theory than I, hopefully they will chime in and correct me if I am wrong, or add their own insight. :)

      • I think she is wearing black as a nod to New Zealand with the silver fern. Kiwi women wear a heck of a lot of black and it is pretty much our national colour. Nice to see her trying to show some relevance to NZ but what would be great is if she wore NZ designers. Other than the queens brooche she has failed in this so far. Such a shame. Especially as she has been in Wellington during fashion week, I just wish her stylist had done some more research.

      • There’s no edict about royal women wearing black. The fuss about Diana was that a) she was considerd very young to be wearing a black evening gown (still a teenager) and B) the dress was low cut. Until then, she had dressed very Sloane Ranger and ingenue. I think royals generally stay away from black except on somber occasions, for what Susan said: they stand out better in colors. But one of my favorite Kate looks is her black velvet evening gown.

  10. Kate looks beautiful. Her dress is gorgeous, but I would have preferred it if the hem had been at the bottom of the kneecap.

  11. This dress and the fern detail is beautiful, but I do wonder: when she has the fern brooch available, why not use that?

    Seems a shame not to let those diamonds sparkle, especially when the Queen hardly ever lends the fern brooch out.

    • I wonder if they thought it best to let the Queen be the only one “wearing” the brooch at this event?

      • Could very well be the truth! But what a wonderful statement it would have been if Kate had worn it at the unveiling.

        Present Queen, future Queen (consort).

    • I think it would have looked silly for Kate to unveil the portrait of the Queen, who is wearing the fern brooch while she herself is wearing it. Having that fern detail on the dress sleeve is far more appropriate, in my opinion.

  12. I wish she wore her hair up for this state banquet but the dress and longer hemline is classy. She looks great.

  13. Absolutely beautiful! I love Jenny Packham and the Duchess wears her designs so well. That silver embroidery is just the right touch to take a little black cocktail dress up a notch. I do have a question though, I’ve really taken notice of Kate’s eyes on this trip. Do you have any idea what brands/colors she uses for her makeup?

  14. It’s about time for Kate to wear something just made for her….This speaks perfection to me…:) Love~

  15. Like the dress very much, and it fits Kate perfectly. I’ve been trying to see if the fern embroidery is applied or an appliqué. If it’s the latter, it could be removed so Kate could wear the dress plain. If it’s the former (which I think it is), then this will just become the Kiwi Cocktail Dress. It’s a tasteful and glamorous tribute to NZ.

    I’ve seen a few Web comments that the dress is too long. I have a black cocktail dress along these lines and it is meant to be below the knee, because of the lean line. It works perfectly for me. Kate is obviously figuring out longer hemlines, which work and which don’t for her.

    Last thought: not my favorite portrait of HM. She looks rather grim, and she has such a nice light when she smiles. But the brooch was such a nice gesture.

  16. I was thrilled when I saw the first pictures of this event. The gorgeously beaded silver fern on black – beautiful! Then I saw the hemline, and what a disappointment. There is no need for a 32-year old woman to wear a cocktail dress with a below-the-knee hemline. Dowdy! And again with the platform shoes. Let them go, Kate.

  17. A follow up. They are quite visible on Popsugar when Kate is next to the portrait. They are the from the set. I need a father-in-law with such fabulous taste.

  18. DM has a lovely close up of Catherine’s face and her earrings are just visible beneath a lock of hair. To me they appear to be the earrings that match the bracelet she was wearing (and my favourites!).

  19. I like it I just wish she had maybe worn her hair half-up. Not only for the slight formality of the occasion, but most importantly, to really show off the detailing of the shoulder embroidery.

  20. That is beautiful detailing and the dress fits her so nicely. I’m wondering, though, if anyone has any theories as to why she doesn’t wear her hair up more often. She looks so lovely when she does (I’m thinking of the purple Issa dress she wore on the Canada tour) and several times recently, such as this dress or with the Zara necklace I’ve thought her hair (though obviously very pretty) distracted from the overall look. I even would have loved to have seen it half back just to accentuate the beautiful fern embroidery and to keep her from having to constantly adjust her hair or hold her head a certain way.

    • Sarah I have hair that is a similar color to Kate’s, and I also have gray hair that requires frequent touch-ups! I have seen with my own hair that if I try putting it up, some grays that I didn’t even realize existed are much more visible. We know that Kate colors her hair as well, but the fact that she had it in a ponytail this morning refutes my theory : ). I thought maybe she didn’t wear it up as much for the same reason that I don’t, but that clearly wasn’t the case since she wore that perfect ponytail. I also wish she would wear it at least half-up more often because I think it looks so pretty on her and it also shows off her jewelry! :)

  21. She looks very elegant tho an inch or so shorter would be even better. On a side note, I wish William would dress for evening and not continue his daytime look. He almost always wears a navy suit – can’t wrong there – but pairs it with a red tie. A navy or silver or gray tie would be much more appropriate for evening. Even better, a more contemporary cut of suit would look great on his perfect frame.
    Nonetheless, they both look very great. The blue coat earlier today was a knockout (tho again a shade too long).

  22. This gown is so classic, and the simple design and subdued color allows the embroidery to really stand out. I wonder that she didn’t wear her hair up again; she probably had to be vigilant that her hair stayed pulled over to one shoulder so that it didn’t cover up the embroidered fern. Ruining the effect of the gown isn’t something I would have wanted to risk, so I would have opted for a French twist or a similar style, though perhaps Catherine was missing the feel of her hair down after the earlier ponytail.

    I also appreciate the way the her bracelet complements the embroidery: all those sparkles!

    I am surprised that we haven’t seen the Duchess wearing any New Zealand or Australian designers yet. I suppose we will soon.

  23. I suppose this must be a tricky dress to photograph as there’s more to it on close inspection than I first thought, with some tailoring detail in an inset waistband. It seems a little sombre since this was no longer a memorial-themed event as far as I can make out, but the work on the fern symbol is fantastic and looks very well on Kate in the close-ups.

    I don’t know why there is so much comment to the effect that Kate has suddenly discovered referencing local culture in her outfits, she’s been pretty much on the ball with all that from the start.

    It’s a beautifully cut garment and though it seems on the long side it also seems appropriate for a relatively formal evening. It’s also the length of the original design, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Kate hasn’t entirely given up on hemlines that are just above or mid-way on the knee as they suit her well and are still appropriate for her public role.

    Her hair is looking fabulous again, and all the better for having had a pre-tour trim. The bracelet looks sensational.

    Thanks for another speedy post — and hope you catch enough sleep before the next is due!

 Leave a Reply



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>