Mar 172017

The Duchess went with one of her “go-to” designers for this evening’s reception, wearing a frock by Alexander McQueen.

©James Whatling

©James Whatling

The event was at the British Embassy in Paris, hosted by Ambassador Lord Llewellyn (seen below left) and Lady Llewellyn. 

©James Whatling

©James Whatling

The couple arriving at the party.

The event celebrates the official launch of a program called “Les Voisins,” translated loosely to ‘the neighbors.”

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Les Voisins celebrates British/French ties. Prince William spoke about the program during the reception. 

“And forgive me if I now continue in the language of Shakespeare, so as to reduce the risk of mangling the language of Molière. It is a pleasure for Catherine and me to be here this evening, in this beautiful, elegant, and global city.

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Before I came here, Her Majesty The Queen reminded me of how much she has enjoyed her many visits to France. It is a feeling that Catherine and I entirely share, and look forward to this and many more visits in the years to come.

Kate meeting guests at the party.

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

As mentioned above, Kate’s tea-length dress is by Alexander McQueen.

©James Whatling

©James Whatling

(That is Rebecca Deacon with her back to the camera, Kate’s personal secretary.)

©James Whatling

©James Whatling

The sleeveless dress was crafted from a textured material that looks like it *might* be lace, accented with either eyelash lace, or a basic fringed trim at the neckline, armholes, and hem.

©James Whatling/Splash News

©James Whatling/Splash News

It also had a deep vee neck; the Duchess accented her waistline with a belt.

©James Whatling

©James Whatling

The most dramatic part of the ensemble was the jewelry. Kate wore her Balenciaga faux pearl earrings, and she also had on something we rarely see, a cocktail ring. The earring shown on the far left is from Trooping the Colour, when we first saw the earrings. Kate Paris British Embassy Reception Black McQueen Balenciaga Pearl Earrings Possibly Cocktail Ring James What March 17 2017

The ring remains unidentified, as does the necklace. From Bethan Holt’s column for The Telegraph:

The Duchess’s pearl jewellery- a gobstopper ring, bauble necklace and Balenciaga earrings- was also a nod to classic Gallic style and added interest to an otherwise pared-back look- a key consideration when impact is required for those pictures which will be beamed around the world


©james Whatling/Splash

Both McQueen and Balenciaga make sense from a sartorial diplomacy standpoint: they are owned by French luxury conglomerate Kering. More from Ms. Holt’s Telegraph piece:

The look was dazzling in a manner which the Duchess rarely toys with, imbuing an air of  sophistication without being an obvious statement showstopper. The message behind the Duchess’s dress tonight? A respectfully diplomatic study in Parisian chic.

And from Edward Barsamian’s piece for Vogue:

For her grand Parisian debut this evening, the Duchess of Cambridge switched things up with a fashion-forward frock from Alexander McQueen.

Her latest look from the house was equal parts refined and directional, just the right fit for an evening at the British Embassy in Paris.

The Cartier watch Kate wore looked heavy when viewed with the ensemble as a whole; I presume she left it on because Cartier is a French brand.

The Duchess was in another pair of shoes by Gianvito Rossi, the label’s Suede d’Orsay Pump, also called the “54″ Mary Jane Pump. It features a narrow block heel that is 4″ in height, a pointed toe, and ankle strap.



It is available at Net-a-Porter in limited sizes ($795); at Spring in mixed sizes ($775); at Barneys ($775); and also at Lane Crawford (£530, about $655 at today’s exchange rates). Thank you to Emi for her speedy shoe ID. A quick aside for those interested in a repliKate: below we show the ASOS ‘Penalty’ style, $49.  Many thanks to Elizabeth on the WKW Facebook page for such a fab tip!



  74 Responses to “The Duchess Wears Alexander McQueen for Paris Embassy Reception”

  1. I like the dress but dislike ALL of the accessories. I LOVE the ambassador’s wife’s dress and would buy that in a heartbeat.

  2. I’ll preface this by saying that I love Kate – I think she’s beautiful and classy and wonderful.

    That said, there are parts of this look that I really like … and parts that I don’t. For me, the most distracting is the ankle strap on her heels. Given the length of the dress (which is awkward), I would’ve opted for a pump; it draws the eye upward in one fluid stroke. The ankle strap feels like a hurdle – especially with the length of the dress. I get that it’s supposed to be midi-length, but because she’s so tall, it looks like it’s either too short or too long.

    I LOVE the material of the dress, though, and it fits her very well. Very chic for a reception in Paris.

  3. All I see when I look at this ensemble is: large pearl earrings, large pearl necklace, large pearl ring. I’m just not sure how anyone thought this would complement the outfit. (Same with the obviously Chanel belt and purse to go with the Chanel outfit the following day.) I will also go out on a limb that, based on the photos of the event, the bare arms seemed out of place somehow.

  4. Finally someone allows her to dress like an attractive woman. The house of McQueen to be precise.The more McQueen she wears the better.They also know what works in Paris.It’s a cute belt but the dress would look better without it. Also I think she should have left one or two jewelry pieces away: I’d say the watch and I possibly the gobstopper ring.

  5. The only piece I don’t like is the belt.

    I like the jewelry suite; she has so much hair that a larger earring is great. I also don’t mind the watch. As a person who can’t leave the house without a watch, I understand someone’s wanting to wear one. Could it be an “evening” watch? Sure, but there’s nothing wrong with this one. It’s a simple, gorgeous piece that I’d buy–when I win the lottery, of course.

  6. Do we know who made the unusual pearl necklace? I thought it was lovely, but haven’t been able to locate and reference to the designer.

  7. She looks great. The texture of the dress is a winner and the cut shows off her figure. The ankle strap shoes work with the tea length and the jewelry was a very cool, pleasant surprise.

  8. Too much going on at the top: i vote for ditching the pearl necklace, just way too much with the earrings and hair everywhere. Actually rather like the dress, looks more modern and a tad edgier for Madame.

  9. She looks fabulous in this dress; black is such a great color for her. Love the shoes. Needs to lose the watch. And the earrings and ring. Smaller earrings that aren’t as matchy, matchy would have been better. But overall, nice look.

  10. What a stunning ensemble! While I must admit that I’m not terribly fond of the jewellery she wore, I have fallen in love with this dress, the tea length, the fabric, all of it! The fabric doesn’t look like lace to me, it reminds me of Chanel tweed suits, which certainly fits the diplomatic purpose of the visit. Let the record show that I reiterate my unwavering admiration of Gianvito Rossi’s work and look forward to many more occurrences of it in the future.
    Now on to the accessories… I liked the earrings when she wore them at Trooping the Colour with that large saucer hat, but throwing the necklace and that enormous ring in the mix doesn’t do it for me. It feels like Kate and her team have been trying to put together a very French/Parisian wardrobe, big pearls are definitely not the way we go! I wish she would leave the watch at home for formal occasions, or if she absolutely must wear one, she could choose a dress watch, like the Queen does.
    People have commented that she seems overdressed for the occasion. I would agree, but we are getting to see this beautiful McQueen number, so I can’t decently complain about that!

    • I totally agree!

      And a big compliment for keeping us updated on Kate and her outfits in record time!

    • I agree about the tweed! That was my first thought. I think the fabric gives it a slightly more casual feel while still looking classy and chic.

  11. Love this dress, and the belt works perfectly to accentuate her elegant figure. I LOVE eyelash fringe, and will even forgive that this is another lace dress, though I really was hoping for black/black tweed with the eyelash fringe. This generation of royal ladies (see P Madelyn, CP Victoria, etc) are overly devoted to large sporty watches with everything. Lovely watches, but not working with evening wear. I know she doesn’t want to seem like she’s overspending on watches for herself. OR accessories, which I’m fine with because I like her recent shoes now that she’s branched out from nude pumps. I guess the watch is like the nude pumps- great, but honestly, not with every outfit.

  12. Overall, I liked this very much. The necklace, in particular, and the belt are a bit distracting, however: late afternoon/early evening event + sleeveless black dress in substantial, boucle-like texture + leather belt + costume pearl jewelry + suede, closed-toe pumps = okay in my book. :-)

    Most importantly, the Duchess is “wearing” this look well, as opposed it wearing her…the very essence of true style. She looks STUNNING, at ease, comfortable in her own skin and absolutely beautiful.

  13. Absolutely lovely. Classy and sexy. Fantastic!

  14. I love this dress and unusual fabric for the style which lifts it away from being just another black dress. Very well accessorised too. I think the belt works and I love the style and heel of Kate’s shoes. Brilliant choice of jewellery too. I think pearls are a nod to Diana but done in Kate’s own way. The necklace is a great statement against her dress and both are strong enough to complement each other.
    I like Kate wearing a watch – I am a watch person- and my only change would be a smaller dress watch. I’m sure William could treat her to a new one!

    I would like to comment that in my opinion, Kate looks best when she sticks with trusted designers and brands. It tends to go wrong when she picks a new make. (Obviously with exceptions). it’s easier to experiment with makes and designers who know your style.

    For this look, Top marks from me!

  15. Its great to see Kate not covered up, for once. But like many others, I have lots of styling issues. The jewellery is all wrong – too much of it especially when it is so clunky. I would have ditched the necklace and ring. Kept a big pair of earrings (not necessarily these) and added at least one bracelet or even a pair of cuffs. I think it was smart to add a belt, but not sure if the bow on this one is supposed to be crooked? Love the shoes, but ankle straps do not work with a tea length dress. When so little of the leg is showing, to cut the line of it with a black strap makes the ankle look fat. Ankle straps work when the curve of the calf is showing. Like the dress though.

  16. I’m in the minority on this one but the look is a miss IMO. The matching large-sized jewelry suite, for what appears to be costume jewelry, is reminiscent of the 1980s. All the pieces are beautiful but, as Coco would say, look in the mirror and remove one accessory. Here, I’d say the ring. The exaggerated pearl ring competes with the engagement ring. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of mixing diamonds, colored stones, and pearls in one look.. except a tiara, where perhaps we could all agree an exception could be made ;)

    • I agree with katie. The necklace,earrings,coctailring,engagementring and watch are too much,certainly in the combinaton with the belt. I would ditch the watch,coctailring and earrings. Love the combination of the lenght of the dress with the shoes.

  17. I feel like I’m the only one who just HATED this outfit – it looks like she is trying WAY too hard to stick everything “Parisian” into one outfit. The black boucle immediately made me think of Chanel, but I knew it couldn’t be a Chanel dress because it just doesn’t look chic enough. The heavy fabric just doesn’t look right on a sleeveless dress, and the cut of the dress does nothing for her figure. The shoes would have been flattering if the dress had been a bit shorter, but it is just the wrong length and the ankle strap gets lost in the dress hem. Plus the jewelry was just absolutely too much – the necklace and earrings perhaps, but not the ring and the watch. I also would be surprised to see this dress again – it doesn’t seem to be Kate’s style, but rather something that was designed to be Parisian, and it comes off as though she is wearing a costume. The Jenny Packam, on the other hand, was AMAZING!

  18. Great job Susan! Super fast as well!
    Thanks for the dedication!

  19. LOVED the dress, the length was perfect. the belt was such a chic detail. Beautiful.

  20. I watched the video before I checked out the pics and my eye immediately went to William and his unbuttoned jacket. Then in the evening video it was even more noticeable with his evening wear. Seems odd. He’s not usually one to miss a detail like that is he? Or maybe I’ve just never noticed before.

    Kate was stunning in all 3 outfits of the day. I loved the unexpectedness of the pearl jewelry. The watch isn’t a deal breaker for me, but agree it could have been left behind.

  21. Oh my GOSH, finally, a look that is not buttoned up and matronly! I have been begging for this for ages. People always respond to my arguments about how she has to look proper but this look establishes that she can look age-appropriate but still appropriate for the occasion. The boucle fabric is an interesting twist with this dress as well. I also actually quite like the pearl necklace but I still abhor those Dynasty-looking earrings. I would have actually foregone earrings completely with this look (or done silver studs) and ditched the watch because, as Tim Gunn says, that’s a lot of look with all those accessories. But in general, I am THRILLED to see her wear something chic and not mumsy.

    • So true about the watch. Why on earth she wears that to these official functions baffles me. If any watch should be worn, she should take a lesson from the Queen and wear a small diamond encrusted watch. Not a casual (albeit expensive) watch as this one.

  22. Lovely outfit, another black lace/lace effect but very different from the others (and she needs a lot of LBD’s for the future especially now that they will be moving back to London & presumably appearing more at the Palace). I like the fluffiness/fringing & it is short enough to not look TOO overdressed. I like the belt too & seems part of it, her body would look too long otherwise despite the high heels. I really wouldn’t have paired block heels with a delicate lacy fabric though & definitely not that chunky watch, French brand or not – and I would have lost that gobstopper of a ring (I am not being vulgar, it is a British child’s sweetie). I’ve just watched the video & the skirt moves beautifully despite it seeming to be figure-hugging at the top.

  23. She looks amazing. I love the dress, definitely the shoes, and the unusual necklace and matching jewelry. I think this mabe pearl set is perfect for this – not as stuffy as usual pearls and the asymmetric necklace is edgy as is the fabric of the dress and the fringe. A home run!

  24. I believe this fabric is actually a boucle. It is a very lovely looks for the Duchess.

  25. I love the shoes and dress, but hated the jewelry. Also, I feel that the Duchess looked a tad over dressed for the reception, especially compared to the ambassador’s wife and all of the other women in the pictures. Might just be my view at the moment…what time was the reception?

    • This is throwing me off as well. For a 3 or 4 pm reception this seems a bit out of place? But maybe the reception was at 5 or 6? But then what time was the dinner?

  26. The dress is fantastic! I hope we can get more detailed info on the fabric. YES to the fabulous neckline and lack of sleeves . . . both welcome departures from the Duchess’ usual choices.

    The shoes are gorgeous, love, love, love them!

    That jewelry would not have been my choice, but it looked great. I agree with another commenter below, I think that in her hectic agenda today she just forgot to take off her watch.

    Can’t stop looking at that dress! Thumbs up for Kate!

  27. I’m so taken with the dress and shoes and Catherine’s hair that I never even looked at her watch!!

    Catherine looked fantastic in all 3 outfits today. Simply gorgeous!

  28. This is the shoe of the moment and you will see it at every price point. I spotted some in a Payless commercial this week. So, you needn’t spend much to get this Replikate.

  29. That is one big miss for me. She’s so close, with GREAT shoes (modern block heels, yay!) and a fine, lovely dress – but that is the epitome of over-accessorizing. Not only did she go for the oversized earrings, the oversized ring, AND the oversized and multi-tiered necklace but she then thought ‘hmmmm I’m missing something…’ and added a WATCH! My goodness!

    The jewelry already borders on costume/tacky, even though I’m sure it’s quite expensive. To put it all together and then throw in a watch is unthinkable to me. If she’d take off the watch and one other accessory I’d have it down as a win, but this looks like a little girl who went through her mother’s closet to me and the Duchess is not shining from behind all of those faux pearls and her timepiece.

  30. Love the dress and shoes, but what dreadful jewelry! It looks cheap due to its size and way too matchy-matchy as a set. Would have preferred diamonds or cultured pearls.

    • My mum always said to be careful about big pearls because the bigger they get, the faker they look. Mabe pearls especially can look cheap. Sadly, this necklace looks like it came from a department store.

  31. My first reaction was wow!! A really different look for Kate – sexy fitted black lace, shoes that are not pumps and an interesting and modern necklace. It’s edgy but still ladylike. My only quibbles relate to the belt – I hate them on evening wear – and that watch!! Her hair suited the outfit – glossy waves but not girly. The shoes are amazing and up to the minute. Kate hits a home run in Paris.

  32. At first glance I thought – “gorgeous and I love it!!” So it was a strong and positive first impression.

    Upon closer inspection though – I don’t like the earrings, I think she should have let the necklace and ring be the focal points jewelry wise. It all looks a little too matchy and detracts from the overall drama of the look.

    I also don’t like the belt. She has this gorgeous dress that fits her impeccably and she adds a belt. WHY KATE WHY.

    I don’t love the shoes but I always give her credit when she tries something new, shoe-wise, so I can’t hate on that ha.

    Overall I still think this is a GREAT look for her – she looks young but not childish, sexy but not over the top, princess like but not costume-y. McQueen looks the best on her IMO.

  33. Another stunning black dress for the Duchess to add to her wardrobe! I love the lines, the texture, the length.
    The shoes are perfect. The pearl necklace is very pretty, too.

    I don’t see the need for a watch at an event like this, especially a clunky watch. But overall this is a win.

  34. love the shoes and the necklace is interesting. not a fan of the earrings at all. i like the dress too, it is pretty! the texture is interesting.

  35. Could the pearl necklace be from the same set as her UFO pearl brooch from Trooping the Colors 2014?

  36. Wow, it’s just win-win-win today for the Duchess! Three fabulous outfits, she looks sensational.

  37. Love everything about this look, especially the ring and shoes!
    But mostly took a moment to comment to thank you for your work today. Three outfits/posts in one day makes for a lot of work for you. It’s appreciated!

  38. I’m the outlier here, but let me start with what I DID like – the shoes! The block heel was modern and a nice change from Kate’s usual stilettos. Thought they were sexy and modernized the dress.

    Don’t mind a longer dress, but I felt this one was several inches too long. Knee length with those shoes would have been knockout. And I would have liked Kate’s hair back to better reveal the pretty neckline.

    Hated the jewelry. Way too matchy and its boldness felt off to me with the delicate lace of the dress.

    And somebody needs to be gifted with an evening watch!

    That’s it for my complaints. ;)

  39. Generally a great look & a fantastic necklace. With shoes with an ankle strap I would have gone for a skirt length either slightly longer or shorter as that style can really cut you off. And yes I do realise the Duchess is elegant, tall & slim. I just didn’t think the skirt length was quite right as my eyes focused there first and as the ensemble is pretty stunning, you don’t want the eye drawn to small flaws.

  40. She looks stunning! This was a beautiful look for her.

  41. I love everything about this look. Thank god she isn’t wearing a shapeless frock again. This is fresh and chic, perfect for Paris. Drooling over the necklace and ankle-strap heels.

  42. I love the dress and the shoes are delightful with the ankle strap! Her hair looks wonderful too. My only quibbles are the watch (if she truly needed one, she needs to add a more delicate version to her watch wardrobe) and the size of the earrings–they seem a touch oversized to me, competing a bit with the fun necklace. But she looks poised and happy and if she’s miffed at William for his ski trip antics, she’s doing a great job concealing it!

    • Perhaps the Cartier is also a nod to her hosts? Or she just didn’t feel like changing it…I noticed it earlier today as well.

  43. Love the dress and her overall look. Do not like any of the pearl jewelry. If looks costume regardless of its value:).I also do not like what looks like matching pieces-ring, necklace, earrings, and these look very “matchy”. I am often not a fan of her belts but I find this one a wonderful addition, which makes me wonder if it part of the bespoke design and not a Kate add on.

  44. She looks lovely! I even feel the ankle strap on her shoes seems a bit French in style. One of her best looks in a longer length dress. Her hair looks gorgeous.
    Her jewelry is interesting and stunning- I think she should not have worn a watch- but perhaps it’s a comfort to know the time. She looks awesome!!

  45. I think the material of the dress is bouclé. Could be a nod to Chanel?

  46. Love the shoes. Do not like the belt or watch with this dress. The dress is very nice and the neckline flattering. The wide straps aren’t super attractive, however. I do love the new pearls. Very nice to see her wear a cocktail ring.

  47. Bravo Duchess!! A truly sophisticated and polished cocktail outfit. The fabric is fascinating – a sparkle boucle? – which adds edge to a classic sheath. I love that Kate has managed to go sleeveless for a change, in her early days she had a habit of always adding sleeves to these styles.

    The deep v-neck, tea-length dress is elegance personified, a sleek line neatly offset by the fabric texture. A neat belt is perfection with an assymetric bow and contrast leather finish. I love the modern jewellery, an astute match if it’s not an actual set with the earrings and cocktail ring. I love that you unearthed the French business links – this is what makes WKW the class site for Kate fashion!

    Loose hair is exactly right here– especially in such gleaming condition, and the shoes are to die for. I’m totally smitten – ankle straps, pointed toes AND on-trend block heels – Kate has shown Paris just how chic is done.

  48. Gorgeous! I love the jewelry. A fresh, unusual choice for her.

    And she even matched the hallway floor! :)

  49. I cannot understand why Kate almost always were a belt of some kind on every outfit. She has a lovely narrow waist and surely the designers can emphasize that with how they cut the seams and it would be quite attractive without the need for a belt? Princess Diana did that quite often with great success.

    I don’t like the clunky watch with the black lacy dress. Why would she wear a watch at all with that outfit?

    On her next outfit, (not yet shown on this post) the silver full length hand beaded Jenny Packman (I think?) it was a gorgeous dress but once again why the waist detailing that cuts her in half? And the oft-worn earrings just didn’t go with the dress.

    I wouldn’t want everyone critiquing my choices, and don’t envy her with all eyes on her. I just get disappointed when she could have hit a home run but missed the mark with something being a little off.

    • Given the speed of costume changes Kate was making I’m not one bit surprised Kate kept a watch on — and one with a big enough dial to see easily!! :-D

    • I think she probably wants to feel that snugness around her waist? Some people seem to have that one accessory they stick with. For her it appears to be belts.

      • What a sophisticated, chic and elegant look. I like everything about the dress, to include the length. The shoes are a very nice change from the usual court shoes. The jewellery is unique and something different from what Kate usually wears.

        Chanel was famous for saying, “Before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and then remove one accessory.” In this case I would have removed three items, the ring, the belt and the watch.

  50. I wonder if the large 5-pearl brooch worn to the Trooping of the Colour in 2014 is part of this set?

    • You and Anna of My Small Obsessions are on the same page, she wondered the same thing. When I get a minute I will add photos from 2014. Thank you for the suggestion! :)

  51. I like the shoes! I really want to like the dress, but it’s awkward. Maybe too long or should have had a jacket? It seems to cling in a strange way. I like the fabric but it might’ve worked better as a suit vs a cocktail dress. Her hair is lovely.

    • That’s it! I couldn’t figure out what was bothering me. Yes, a jacket would’ve been so much better.

  52. This is easily my favorite Kate’s look ever. I don’t remember the last time I liked her outfit this much. The dress is gorgeous. The length is right, the neckline is flattering… I like accessories too and shoes. She looks fantastic.

    • I agree — I think this is a sensational and most sophisticated ensemble!

    • I agree…this is a knock out dress. Another dress that is simple, classic and just utterly gorgeous! I love the jewelry and I was very surprised to see her wearing a ring. I want her shoes!

      • That shoe style was also shown on here a couple of posts ago from LKB – the Helena Suede Sandal. A snip at a mere $380!! #howtheotherhalflive

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