We are back with a post primarily looking at Kate and William’s attendance at the State Dinner, while also sharing word of a few new engagements for the Duchess, as well as some fab savings opportunities for those in a position to shop or simply partake of some online grazing. (It never hurts to look!) We’ll walk through those new appointments first:
- NEW: Wednesday, October 21: Kate and William take part in a creative industries function at Lancaster House with China’s President Xi and Madame Peng.
- Monday: October 26: Kate, William and Harry attend a Charities Forum hosted by BAFTA and Aardman Animation. The trio will see a preview of Aardman’s newest episode in the Shaun the Sheep series, and also take part in a model-making workshop, presumably with claymation-type figures, that is what Aardman specializes in. (This is in addition to that evening’s premiere of the new James Bond film, SPECTRE.)
- Tuesday, October 27: Kate will meet children & mentors from Chance UK; the group works with children ages 5 – 11 who have behavioral challenges.
- Tuesday, October 27, : Kate attends the annual 100 Women in Hedge funds dinner at the V & A. The event is a benefit for one of Kate’s patronages, The Art Room.
Back to the State Dinner. It is in honor of China’s President Xi Jinping, taking place at Buckingham Palace next Tuesday, October 20. While the palace has not officially confirmed Kate and William’s attendance I believe they will be at the function, so in this post we’ll just “act as if” the Duke and Duchess are attending. Should I be wrong I shall flog myself mercilessly in this space and at other online venues frequented by WKW.
The dress code will be white-tie for the gentlemen (or dress military uniforms), and very formal gowns, gloves and tiaras (as appropriate) for women. We have only seen the Duchess wearing a tiara twice: at her wedding in 2011…
…and in December of 2013 on her way to the Queen’s annual diplomatic reception.
We will take a more in-depth look at what jewelry, including a tiara, we might see the Duchess wearing in a post we have planned for Thursday.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to attend an formal occasion of this kind at Buckingham Palace? We learn a little bit about preps for such an event from Rita Wilson, who attended the May 2011 state dinner for President and Michelle Obama with her husband, Tom Hanks. Ms. Wilson wrote a nifty piece for Harper’s Bazaar about the experience.
My excitement that my husband and I had been invited to join the leader of the free world and his wife at this historic event gave way to something else entirely when the very strict protocol for attire arrived (with only days to plan).
The palace dress requirements say that women’s gowns must be “structured.” Huh? The bodice must have some sort of foundation in it, and the skirt must be full. Belle in Beauty and the Beast immediately comes to mind. Women must wear closed-toed shoes — and get this: stockings! Sheer disbelief — I don’t even own a pair of sheer hose.
We encounter that thorny issue once again: Pantyhose. Nylons. Stockings. Tights. Whatever term one uses, they continue to be a challenge for many. Back to Ms. Wilson’s column.
Who is inspecting what’s on under all those layers anyway? I could just imagine being introduced to the queen: “Ms. Rita Wilson. Not wearing hose.”
But that’s not all that needs covering.
Then there are the gloves. If your gown is strapless, then over-the-elbow 12- to 18-button gloves are typical. If your gown has a sleeve, then a glove to the elbow is acceptable. (Ladies, do you know how hard it is to find white kid gloves anywhere in 2011?)
So what’s it like once you arrive at the big do?
After ascending a massive stairway, we are greeted by one of the queen’s ladies-in-waiting, who is wearing a tiara and directs us to cocktails in the spectacular gallery that hosted the recent reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.
The column was not just enjoyable, it was also educational. Click here to read it in its entirety.
Thursday we will also take a more in-depth look at designers Kate might have chosen to create her evening gown, should she have decided to wear something by a label with ties to China, as opposed to having something created by her core cadre of designers for formal attire: Jenny Packham, Alexander McQueen, and Temperley London. The Duchess has shown herself more-than-adept at ‘fashion diplomacy,’ as demonstrated by her sartorial selections on international tours. Today we mention just one designer who Kate would have considered: Huishan Zhang, in many ways an obvious choice. Mr. Zhang was born in Qingdao, China; he spent time in New Zealand and Paris before moving to London and attending the renowned Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design. Notables in the fashion world who went to CSM include the late Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton, Stella McCartney, Jenny Packham, Christopher Kane and Matthew Williamson.
One of Zhang’s competitive edges is that he never buys fabric, but creates it himself, and then it’s all designed and produced in his atelier in China: “I am always in between China and London.”
“Unfortunately, the phrase ‘Made in China’ has become synonymous with cheap, mass-produced tat,” he laments. “I am trying to change this and show that the country is a rich source of high quality raw materials, craftsmanship and artistic expression.”
“I mean, who does silk better than China?” he says while showing us the construction of a sublime silk dress: “I figure someone needs to tie China’s reputation to luxury again; may as well be me.”
Samantha Cameron, Dame Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley are among the well-known names who have worn Huishan Zhang.
Also today, quick word about a few Sales and Savings opportunities that may be of interest. The first involves a Kate favorite: there is actually a sizable amount of Goat available at The Outnet, the online outlet for luxury retailer Net-a-Porter. Below you see Kate wearing the brand’s ‘Scarlett’ wool crepe dress in the ‘Geranium’ color. To the immediate right of the photo, we show the Scarlett at the Outnet in blush, as well as black and also in red; both dresses are selling for $326.80, that’s 57% off the normal retail price.
Among other pieces at the Outnet: the Venus Corded Lace dress, a solid repliKate for the Alexander McQueen champagne lace frock Kate wore to the Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving in 2012, and again in 2014 at one of the Queen’s Garden Parties. The Venus was originally priced at $1210, it is now reduced by 60% to $484.
There are many more Goat styles available at the Outnet, our thanks to WKW friend Autumn Brewington for tipping us off to the news about Goat. (Check out the photo at the top of Autumn’s Twitter page here, she’s chatting with someone you might recognize.)
Also, Saks Fifth Avenue is doing their Friends and Family promotion, with 25% off a good selection of merchandise, and 20% off jewelry with promo code THANKYOU. The discount offer is not available in-store until the 15th; the event runs through the 18th. If you do stumble upon a treasure or two, be sure to use promo code FREESHIP; there’s no minimum purchase required.
It’s also Friends and Family time at Shopbop, this retailer is also offering 25% off oodles of merchandise.with promo code INTHEFAM25. Probably the most appealing bargain here is Kate’s LK Bennett Sledge: regularly $345, it is just 258.75 with the discount. There are other items of interest, like the short version of DVF’s Zarita dress, or some of the Temperley London pieces, it just depends on what might be on your shopping list. If you you do find something you just can’t live without you probably don’t want to dilly-dally; the offer ends at midnight on the 15th.
We’ll see you Thursday for our look at jewelry possibilities, as well as a few other designers that would fit a profile appropriate for possible Duchess gown designers.
- Watch the May 2011 toasts the Queen and President delivered in this C-SPAN video
- The Daily Mail’s story about the banquet is here
- CBS News has a slide show showing Michelle Obama’s ‘best evening styles’
- Click here for a NY Times slide show of ‘Michelle Obama’s State Dinner Fashion’
- Learn more about the Chance UK mentoring program here by visiting the organization’s website here, its Facebook page is here and Twitter feed is here