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The Duchess Debuts New Designer for Buckingham Palace Reception

The Duchess wore a dress by British label Needle and Thread for tonight’s reception at Buckingham Palace. The event capped off the UK-Africa Investment Summit held in London earlier today.

The Duke and Duchess hosted the reception on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen. If I’m not mistaken this is the first time the couple has hosted an event of this kind involving heads of state at the palace. Roya Nikkhah of The Times of London tweeted a video of the duo arriving.

The Investment Summit was put on by the UK Government. It brought together a broad mix of participants, from Heads of State and Government to representatives from African countries, key agencies, as well as African and UK businesses. Below, participants pose for a group photo. You can see UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson 5th from the right; 4th from the right, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi; I believe Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, is second from the right. 

Back to this evening’s function, below you see the Earl and Countess of Wessex, who also attended the Palace party.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex also attended the Palace party. Sophie is celebrating her birthday today.

The Daily Mail’s Rebecca English posted a video of the Earl and Countess greeting guests.


The Countess and the Duchess. 

The couples as they walk through the music room.

Princess Anne was at tonight’s reception as well. 

Another view. 

The Duke and Duchess welcoming a guest. 

And laughing with another. 

Richard Palmer of The Daily Express tweeted a video of Prince William speaking at tonight’s reception.


From William’s comments:

The African continent holds a very special place in my heart.

It is the place my father took my brother and me shortly after our mother died. And when deciding where best to propose to Catherine I could think of no more fitting place than Kenya to get down on one knee.

Throughout my life I have been lucky enough to spend time in many other parts of Africa. I’m also honoured to be the Patron of the Royal Africa Society.

As Catherine and I have said to several of you here tonight, we hope to have the chance to visit many more countries in the future and share our mutual love of your continent with our children.

A group photo. 

Now for our look at what Kate wore for tonight’s party, starting with her dress by British retailer Needle and Thread.

The upper layer of dress fabric is inspired by vintage lace and done in tulle embellished with sequins, some in a floral motif. (The tulle sits atop a solid layer.) The frock features lace frills at the collar and shoulders, sheer sleeves, a defined waist, and a back zipper. It is available as a mini-dress ($519) as well as a full-length gown.

Thoughts on the look from The Telegraph’s Tamara Abraham:

Though the fashion stakes were high (the Countess of Wessex was wearing Alaia) Kate made the challenge look easy, making her entrance alongside Prince William in a red evening dress that looked suitably celebratory, identifying her as co-host, but not so over-the-top that other guests looked underdressed – a tricky balance to strike.

Kate’s dress, a customised version of the £410 Aurora gown from the Cruise 2020 collection, was unquestionably dazzling. The tulle creation was inspired by the design of a vintage lace tablecloth and is decorated with tonal sequins and a frill detail at the arms and neck.

The deep red hue was spot on: bold, regal, elegant, and no accidental stroke of luck – the 38-year-old will have learnt from the Queen that it is important to wear an eye-catching colour for such engagements so that people who may have waited to catch a glimpse of you can identify you easily in a crowd or from a distance.

Another look at the Duchess this evening. 

A little more of The Telegraph’s fashion piece:

The look was completed by diamond and ruby earrings, a boxy clutch bag and a favourite pair of Gianvito Rossi heels that she also owns in black and beige. It’s a flawless ensemble, and the consistent strength of her styling is evidence that she is at a stage in her life and career where she knows what she needs to do, how to get it done, and the trusted advisors and stylists who can help her get there.

The short version of the dress is available in a mix of colors and prices on the UK site, with some versions £175 (about $225) and others £350 (roughly $455).

The long version also comes in a mix of colors. We show it on sale at Net-a-Porter in beige ($419) and also in blue ($360). 

Needle and Thread was founded in 2013 by Creative Director and CEO Hannah Coffin. More from a Draper’s profile:

From the moment Hannah Coffin received an old Singer sewing machine for Christmas at the age of 12, she knew she wanted to create her own brand. She spent her teenage years making clothing for herself and friends, frustrated by the lack of affordable fashion where they grew up in rural Gloucestershire.

Needle and Thread specialises in dresses and separates with intricate surface decoration at an accessible price point. Since launching exclusively with Asos in April 2013, it has attracted a string of stockists around the world, including Net-a-Porter, Harrods and Liberty in the UK, German etailer Zalando, US department store Nordstrom and Asian chain Lane Crawford.

Needle and Thread also offers a bridal collection

Kate repeated her ‘Casa’ clutch by Jenny Packham, in red pony hair with a sleek metal frame and elegant clasp.

The Duchess also brought back her Gianvito Rossi suede pumps ($695). A classic point-toe style, the suede heels are made in Italy and have a 4″ heel.

Kate wore a new pair of earrings (new to us) this evening.

It turns out they are by Soru, a brand she has worn before. They are somewhat similar to the pair seen above left, the Ruby Earrings in Gold ($186), minus the wide border of crystals. The design is a 2017 style handcrafted in “18kt yellow gold vermeil on sterling silver, with genuine semi-precious ruby gemstones, and multi-faceted crystals” per the Soru product description. Thanks to the ID whizzes at Kate’s Royal Closet for discovering the style! Without better photos of the earrings, it’s not possible to tell if there is a border, and if so, how wide it is or what kind of stones make up the border. Below, the Duchess and the Soru earrings worn for a 2016 Team GB reception at Buckingham Palace. 

NOTE: There have been comments about the dress code.  From the photos I have seen, many of the female guests were in full-length formal attire and the men in dinner jackets; there was a broad mix of apparel at the function.


The Royal Family Channel offers more than 3:30 of raw video from the event in this piece.

Here is 2-minutes+ about the summit itself in a video from the UK’s Department for International Development.


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Friday 3rd of April 2020

There is a new version of this dress available at the Needle and Thread Website. It's called "Aurora Ballerina Dress". I thinks it's the exact version of the dress Kate wore. The dress is fabolous by the way :D


Friday 3rd of April 2020

Thank you, Cosima! :)


Sunday 26th of January 2020

Duchess Kate looked lovely and William wore a dark red tie to match her outfit, how appropriate! This being a cocktail reception, Kate’s dress is perfect with a tea length, fabric and level of ornamentation so it would not be mistaken for a day dress but without a revealing neckline such as a formal evening gown. Her outfit does not make any of the guests feel over or under dress. Kate as hostess looked dazzling in this rich red color of this beautiful dress! ❤️


Thursday 23rd of January 2020

This whole look is just gorgeous on Kate. And, even though Sophie and Anne were less dressed up, there certainly is a range on what is "reception" attire. I love everything about this look! Perfection!

sue d

Saturday 25th of January 2020

I absolutely adore the red, red, red! The dress is shimmery and appropriate for the event. A fabulous reception attire look!


Wednesday 22nd of January 2020

Kate looks perfect! This color suits her, and the fit is just fantastic! Sophie's lovely too in the red Alaia. What a beautiful evening. :)


Tuesday 21st of January 2020

You've got this one, Kate! Beautful, happy, regal and elegant. Perhaps that is your message to us in your dress? You can get as dressed up as you like! You are the hostess, you are representing The Queen!!

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