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It’s Orla Kiely in Snowy London for Portrait Gallery Exhibit

Kate chose a dress by Orla Kiely for her visit to the National Portrait Gallery this evening.

It was a cold, snowy, blustery night in London.

The Duchess elected to dash from the car to gallery sans a coat.

Kate with Gallery director Nicholas Cullinan.

Hannah Furness of The Telegraph posted a video of the Duchess as she arrived.

Kate was at the gallery for a preview of the Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography exhibit.

More from the Portrait Gallery:

This major exhibition is the first to examine the relationship between four ground-breaking Victorian artists: Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–79), Lewis Carroll (1832–98), Lady Clementina Hawarden (1822–65) and Oscar Rejlander (1813–75). Drawn from public and private collections internationally, the exhibition features some of the most breath-taking images in photographic history.

The Duchess has been the Gallery’s royal patron since 2012.

She was directly involved in the exhibit. It includes the Gallery’s first “Patron’s Trail,” featuring works Kate selected for the exhibit as well as personal captions she wrote that are displayed alongside some of the photographs.

From a Daily Telegraph story by Hannah Furness:

The show is a daring choice for the Duchess, based on the “radical attitudes” of the four artists and detailing how they “formed a bridge between the art of the past and the art of the future”.

Many of the photographs on display are rarely seen for conservation reasons, and others loaned from galleries around the world.

The wider exhibition, as chosen by NPG curators, will feature Carroll’s pictures of Alice Liddell, his muse for Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland photographed as both a child and an adult.

(The article was written before the exhibit, thus the future tense about photos that will be in the exhibit.) 

This Artnet story explains why Kate’s role in the exhibit is a good fit: “Her interest in 19th-century photography dates back to her time studying art history at the University of St. Andrews where she chose the topic as the subject of her undergraduate thesis.” 

The Duchess also wrote a foreword for the exhibition catalog. More from The Telegraph piece

Writing about her involvement, the Duchess, who according to her husband takes photographs of Prince George and Princess Charlotte every day, called herself an “enthusiastic amateur photographer”, disclosing she wrote her undergraduate thesis on 19th century images.

An article from Artlyst notes that in the catalog Kate “…explains that photographs of children, which feature predominantly within the exhibition, are of particular interest to her. The Duchess also points out that Queen Victoria and especially Prince Albert, became enthusiastic patrons of the new art form following its invention in 1839.”

Now our look at what Kate wore for tonight’s function, a dress from the L’Orla Resort 2018 capsule collection, done in tandem with stylist Leith Clark. More from the Women’s Wear Daily review

Orla Kiely referenced the feminist movements of the Sixties and Seventies for the capsule range L’Orla, which she designs with stylist Leith Clark.

Yoko Ono, Gloria Steinem, Marianne Faithfull and Frida Kahlo were among their muses, along with the marching protesters of the era. 

“We looked at women who led in terms of freedom but, also in music and art,” said Clark.

Marie Claire story has an interesting note about Orla Kiely considering comfort when designing, something I often think some designers overlook.

For the duo, who have known each other for nearly a decade with Clark styling all of Kiely’s mainline collections, there is a serious focus on creating flattering silhouettes. Kiely explains she really wants women to feel comfortable in her designs; ‘there is nothing worse than that feeling of constantly having to adjust what you’re wearing. I hate when you have to tug a top down or sleeves that keep riding up your arm.’

Kate’s dress is called the Margaret.

It is 100% viscose and features a slim fit, long sleeves, and a smocked front panel with ruffled border and velvet trim. The high neckline also has the velvet trim, as do the ruffled cuffs.

The dress as shown in the collection.

A view of some of the dress details, including those on the back of the garment, much like the front minus the smocking.

The dress is available at Very Exclusive (£490, about $675), and also on the Orla Kiely US site ($408).

Kate carried her Celeste clutch by Jimmy Choo that we first saw at the black-tie dinner in Oslo.

The suede bag is adorned with pavé rhinestones on the frame, measuring about 8″ x 4″. It has a snake-chain strap that allows you to carry it on the shoulder, or it can be carried as a clutch. It is available at Jimmy Choo, as well as at Nordstrom, and also at Saks.

We saw the return of the Gianvito Rossi Praline pumps ($675) in the Praline colorway.

Kate wore her bespoke Kiki McDonough pink tourmaline and green amethyst drops.

They are similar to the Special Edition pair you see in the picture below, but they are not identical.

The last time Kate wore the earrings? At the Portrait Gallery’s gala in March of last year.

Kate’s hair was down and loosely curled.

This is a side note that I shared on Twitter, a simple ‘thank you’ to all the photographers who stand out in the elements for hours to take the photographs that we license for the site. 

And another terrific collage created by Susan Courter of What Meghan Wore.

For anyone who may have missed the day’s earlier engagement, click here to read about Kate, William, Harry and Meghan Markle at the first annual Royal Foundation forum.


We leave you with a very quick note about a Sales & Savings opportunity.

For 15% off Kate’s faux fur cuffs and collar by TROY London use promo code WKWFAUXFUR at checkout.


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Monday 12th of March 2018

I'm late to the party & everything's been said - but I'll just say I'm on the 'love the dress dress side', apart from that mis-match of the flower at the Empire-line at the front, not present on either of the model's dresses, which are different from each other. The mis-match on the back (of the model's dress) makes it look cheap quality too. It's the style I love most, I love Victoriana styles & wish the 70s had carried on. I really liked the collage at the end of the article! I was trying to think what on earth the middle picture could be until my friend told me it was an open bag, lol, good idea :) Would like to see some more collages.

Elizabeth G.

Monday 5th of March 2018

I LOVE this look!! This whole outfit just looks amazing on the Duchess and it’s perfect for this event. I would not have thought to pair the shoes and clutch with this sress, but they work so well! I also love that we get a chance to learn about Catherine’s academic past and that she was able to put her particular knowledge to use to help with this exhibit! She’s so intelligent, beautiful, and talented, yet so unassuming. As always, thank you for the wonderful coverage!!


Saturday 3rd of March 2018

I like the dress, and am certainly inclined to be generous to her in consideration of her advancing middle.

What really tickles me is the pattern of the dress seems to complement the snowy day. I think the clutch is gorgeous, too.

sue d

Tuesday 6th of March 2018

I love the pattern of the dress! And she looks comfortable! Not sure when her last Royal Engagement is this month!


Friday 2nd of March 2018

This is not my favorite Orla Kiely dress. There have been several truly great Orla Kiely-Kate moments, in my opinion, including Kate at Paddington station to mark the Paddington movie. That pink/salmon dress with the black detailing at the waist was absolutely stunning. There have been others as well. That being said, I really appreciate the fact that Kate went for the peachy tones in her shoes and accessories here in order to complement the peachy details in the dress. She veered away from black shoes/accessories, and although I always like a classic black court shoe and clutch, it's nice to see her switch things up. She also looked happy and healthy. I can't wait to see the new little one at the end of April!


Friday 2nd of March 2018

Kate looked wonderful. While I would not wear this print I thought for this dress, Kate and the event it looked lovely. I also love the earrings with it and the blush shoes and clutch. The earrings are big and help pull out the colors of the dress and lighten everything up a bit around her face.

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