Jan 112013

We take a break from our year-end polls to update you with a few items about Kate. The National Portrait Gallery officially unveiled its first portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge today, William and Kate were given a preview before the painting went on public display.

John Stillwell/PA Wire

Above we see the couple chatting with Paul Elmsley, the artist. More on how he was chosen from the Palace news release:

The Duchess was involved in the selection process, from which artist Paul Emsley, the 2007 winner of the Gallery’s BP Portrait Award competition, was chosen by Director Sandy Nairne to paint her official portrait.

Mr. Elmsley was born in Glasgow, Scotland and raised in South Africa. The NPG site has background on the painting:

The Duchess explained that she would like to be portrayed naturally – her natural self – as opposed to her official self. She struck me as enormously open and generous and a very warm person. After initially feeling it was going to be an unsmiling portrait I think it was the right choice in the end to have her smiling – that is really who she is.


The portrait shows Kate against a dark background, a signature trait of the artist. For those curious about what Kate wore in the portrait here is more from the Daily Mail:

She is wearing a bottle-green pussy bow blouse and a pair of earrings that were a wedding gift.

You can see the sleeveless top a bit more in the video about the creation of the oil painting.

The Royal Channel on YouTube

The earrings appear to be the sapphire and diamond pair re-fashioned from a set belonging to Princess Diana. The Duchess did two sittings last May and June, the first was at Kensington Palace and the second at Mr. Elmsley’s studio. More from the Telegraph:

The painting was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and, following her suggestion, depicts her natural, not official, persona.

The Duchess told the artist: “It’s just amazing, I thought it was brilliant.”

Prince William also had high praise for the painting, saying: “It’s beautiful, it’s absolutely beautiful.”

The portrait is proving rather controversial, being described as “rotten” in the Daily Mail and Kate as having a “vampiric, malevolent glare” in The Guardian. But Canada’s National Post offers this:

In fairness to Emsley, some artists had praise for his work.

“I liked it, very much so,” said Richard Stone, who has frequently painted members of the royal family. “So often with official portraits they can be rather stiff and starchy, but this has a lovely informality about it, and a warmth to it.”

The Duchess appeared happy with the work, according to the Daily Mail:

She spent 10 minutes studying the portrait before gesturing with her hands, indicating that she was particularly pleased with the way he had captured her around her mouth and nose.

‘Thank you,’ added the polite royal, who met the 65-year-old artist with his wife Susanne and one of his daughters, Maria, in a separate room after viewing the portrait privately away from him.

‘I had such a fun day at the studio,’ she told Maria.

While The Telegraph called the work, “an aesthetic disaster” art Critic Mark Hudson also makes this point:

Yet Mr Elmsley has my sympathy. Whatever he produced would have been roundly trashed by a large section of opinion.

Kate was in her burgundy ‘Sofie Rae’ dress from Whistles. The frock is 100% silk, with a deep vee neckline and what some call a “granddad collar”. It is below-knee length with significant fabric gathering at the waist and shoulder.


We previously saw the dress when Kate and William traveled to Denmark in November, 2011 for UNICEF and when she visited Newcastle in October, shown below.

October 2012, Photos Courtesy of Alyssa Phillips

She accessorized with her Episode Angel shoes, although hers are suede.

Episode ‘Angel’

She was wearing the same earrings seen in the portrait as well as her Asprey Button Pendant.

PA Wire/Asprey

For those unable to see the portrait in person you can have your own “copy,” the Gallery is selling postcards featuring the painting.  A single postcard is £0.70 (for members the price is £0.63, roughly $1 at today’s exchange rate), a set of six will set you back £3.50 (about $5.65) with a members price of £3.15.

Kate’s family was also on hand for the private viewing, afterward all enjoyed a private breakfast. When leaving the Gallery it appeared Kate was carrying a little present, I wonder if she was given a set of the postcards…?


Kate celebrated her 31st birthday Wednesday night with a trip to Royal Albert Hall to see Cirque du Soleil’s KOOZA show.

Cirque du Soleil

Carole, Michael, Pippa and James Middleton also saw the show, more from People:

“With William, 30, beside her (wearing eyeglasses), she was spotted clapping and laughing at the show at the Royal Albert Hall, and an observer reports she was looking “happy and radiant.”

Photos from Wednesday night aren’t available at either service I use for pictures, but you may view a gallery of them at The Telegraph. Seeing Kate well enough to be at public functions and appearances is a sign she must be feeling better, that is very good news.


Also today, a quick glance at that British Vogue story about Kate.

British Vogue February 2013

More on the “Katepediadirectly from the magazine:

To celebrate the style evolution of a modern royal icon, this month Vogue, with writer Lisa Armstrong, set itself the task of analysing her every outfit, shoe and accessory to divine the vital statistics of Kate’s style.

British Vogue February 2013

“We pored over thousands of pictures, and probed her favourite designers to find her favourite neckline, sleeve length and silhouette, the secret of that dazzling smile, the hidden value of her “down-to-earth” glamour – and just how she might adapt her McQueen as maternity wear.”

British Vogue February 2013

The story is in the February issue of British Vogue, available at some bookstores and newsstands in the US.

British Vogue February 2013

The magazine is also available on the iPad.


We’ll be back tomorrow with our next polls.

Feb 082012

Tonight Kate made what many are calling her first solo performance at an official public engagement, she attended a private viewing of the National Portrait Gallery’s Lucian Freud exhibit. The evening last October when she stepped in on behalf of Prince Charles for a charity dinner is apparently not considered a public engagement. (More on that evening here.)

The Duchess’s attire this evening definitely stymied Kate fashion followers.

Via Majesty Magazine Twitter

The Palace revealed it was made by now-defunct fashion brand Jesiré, a bit of a surprise for many Kate fashion aficianados. The double breasted coat dress had an exaggerated shawl collar, three-quarter sleeves and the full skirt style Kate is known to favor, she also wore an ornate belt.  Many of us have looked high and low, we’ve yet to locate any photos of this exact piece.

Here we see Kate speaking with Sarah Howgate, curator of the exhibit, and Sandy Nairne, he is the National Portrait Gallery Director.

Picture by Jorge Herrera © Jorge Herrera 2012 via National Portrait Gallery Facebook Page

Here is a better look at the back of the garment.

Frances Vale, Sky News Twitter

Kate accessorized with the glittering diamond bracelet and earrings we first saw in Canada, described only as being “a gift”.  She also wore the Asprey Button Pendant again, white pavé diamonds surrounding a central amethyst, all set in 18ct white gold.


We also saw the reappearance of Kate’s sky high black suede heels (previously discussed in this post), originally identified by WKW FB friend Ashley and others.  This evening we were able to look at an outstanding closeup of the shoe’s sole, the general consensus is now that these are the Jimmy Choo Cosmic.

Via Net-a-Porter

The heel really is high, 5″, but there is also a 1″ platform, making it less of a nightmare to walk in. More on the style from Net-a-Porter.

These shoes are part of the Jimmy Choo 24:7 capsule collection of best-sellers and classic styles that every woman should own. Jimmy Choo’s black suede pumps provide a chic foundation to any outfit. Wear them to punctuate a draped dress for a polished evening look.

The style can be found in many other shops, just not the black suede version. Kate also carried her black suede clutch with the tiny bow.

Many will remember that Kate’s degree from St. Andrews is in art history, the show is something very much up her alley. Also on hand for the event, Sir Paul McCartney’s daughter Mary, who is a photographer and a Museum Trustee. Other notables at the function included Lucian Freud’s daughter, Bella.

Reaction to Kate’s first big solo appearance from London media was interesting:

The Daily Mail:

The Duchess of Cambridge looked buoyed and confident as she embarked on her first solo engagement since joining the royal family.

Kate may have slipped on a belted Jesire coat dress (aka a Cress – consider it a formal Jacardigan) for the Lucian Freud Portraits exhibition but the subdued colour and black accessories are light (slash bright) years away from her favoured green and/or red frocks of late.

The Express:

THE Duchess of Cambridge looked every inch the confident royal tonight as stepped out for her first solo public engagement.

Below we see Kate leaving the Gallery.

Peter Hunt, BBC Twitter Feed

For those interested in learning more about the exhibit, tickets, etc., click here. The Gallery has a wonderful selection of items in its gift shop related to the Lucian Freud Portraits show.

National Portrait Gallery Shop

As far as upcoming engagements, not including the Liverpool appointments on the 14th, here is a snippet of the Telegraph’s story:

A spokesman for the Duchess said: “It’s an honour for the Duchess to be patron of such a distinguished body and having spent the last few months preparing for the role she has been looking forward very much to this.

“It marks the start of a six to eight-week period in which the Duchess will visit all of the charities of which she is Patron.”

The Daily Mail has a brief video of Kate’s arrival, it gives you an idea of the blinding flashbulbs she faces on occasions like tonight’s.

The Daily Mail

As far as Kate’s portrait being done, the London Evening Standard has more:

Kate, who broke with protocol when she refused to pose for a formal painting as a new royal bride, has begun talks to sit for her first official portrait.

Gallery director Sandy Nairne said: “It’s very early days, but we’ve started a discussion. It will be at least the summer before there’s anything concrete and we can start to look for an artist.”

The paper also has solid background on Kate’s initial meetings with the Gallery about being a patron.

Mr Nairne said: “It’s very exciting. She came to see us last September when she was deciding which organisations to support. She was fizzing with intelligent questions.”

This was a stellar appearance by Kate, the piece was tasteful, she accessorized elegantly and looked very nice.  It had to be somewhat daunting for the Duchess, making her first (or second, depending on your perspective) solo appearance, from all accounts she handled it with aplomb and looked lovely while doing so.