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The Duchess Surprises in Vintage Oscar de la Renta at Dublin Reception

I’m delighted to be able to start a post with the words “the Duchess wore vintage this evening.” 

Duchess Kate Middleton vintage purple oscar de la Renta Ireland

The occasion was a reception at Ireland’s Museum of Literature in Dublin.

Only opened last summer, the museum is housed in a historic house on the south side of St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. 

The museum is a partnership between University College Dublin and the National Library of Ireland. Below, the Duke and Duchess are shown a first edition copy of James Joyce’s “Ulysses”.  Kate William Museum Literature Vintage Oscar Dress

A closer look. 

More from The Daily Mail

Colette O’Flaherty, keeper of special collections at the National Library of Ireland, said: ‘It’s the very first edition of the print run, we call it Copy No.1 of the first edition.

‘It’s wonderful, it’s a great treasure in our collection and absolutely invaluable.’

Joyce studied European Languages at the site of the museum, which is owned by University College Dublin and used to be the college campus, from 1899 to 1902.

A peek inside the cover via Simon Carswell of the Irish Times shows the book was autographed by the author in February 1922.

Tonight’s reception was hosted by Irish Tánaiste Simon Coveney. The Tánaiste is the deputy head of the government in Ireland, holder of the second-most senior position. Mr. Coveney is also Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, with responsibility for Brexit.  He is seen in the center below; second from left is his wife, Ruth.

There were about 100 people in attendance at the function.

The Daily Mail reports “The Duke and Duchess went on to meet groups of guests each representing different themes; peace and reconciliation, culture and youth and civil society. Attendees included a poet, dancer, writer, film and theatre producer and a representative from the Irish Refugee Council.”

Below, a photo shared by Hello’s Emily Nash.

Simon Carswell of the Irish Times tweeted a video. 

 Another view.

Prince William delivered remarks.

More from Simon Carswell’s Irish Times story

In a thinly veiled reference to the UK’s departure from the EU, the 37-year-old prince said that “as we look ahead to some changes in our relationship, we must never forget how far we have come together in recent decades in transforming the relationships across our two islands”.

Prince William said “growing up” he remembered “seeing the Troubles that took place, which affected so many people across the UK and Ireland”.

This was why one of the “truly profound moments” for him and his wife on their visit was their attendance at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square in Dublin, the memorial which honours those who fought against British rule.

“As we stood on the cliffs at Howth and looked across the Irish Sea, a mere 50 miles for the British coastline, it was easy to see why so many people find the lure of this beautiful country so difficult to resist,” he said.

Kensington Palace tweeted video of the speech. 

 The Duke concluded with a toast “to the President of Ireland and to the people of this wonderful country in thanks for the warmth of your welcome on what I hope will be the first of many visits for us.”

The Tánaiste also addressed the guests, speaking before Prince William. More from’s coverage:

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney described the three-day royal trip as “an important visit” and said he was hopeful for the future of the Ireland-UK relationship.

“We have of course welcomed members of the British royal family to Ireland before, including Prince William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, in 2011, a visit which represented a watershed moment for the Ireland-UK relationship.” Mr Coveney said.

Dr. Sandra Collins, director of the National Library of Ireland, shared photos from tonight’s function on Twitter. 

More from The Daily Mail

The Duchess laughed as Mr Coveney revealed his children had written letters to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, inviting them to come to Ireland when they are older and telling them they will always be welcome.

‘I hope they will crack a smile as I can assure you they do not comply with the protocols of the customary way to write to the Royal Family,’ he said.

Another view of the Duke and Duchess. Kate Middleton vintage Oscar de la Renta Polka Dot dress Ireland

Now for our look at what Kate wore to this evening’s reception.

She was in a vintage dress by Oscar de la Renta.  The classic design is crafted of hot pink polka dot fabric that is textured; it has a crinkly look. The dress features a ruffled (aka ‘pie crust’ collar) collar and jabot trimmed in black velvet, double-banded cuffs also trimmed in black velvet and a black velvet belt.

The garment hits just-below-the-knee and also has gathers at the shoulder and waist. There is no way of knowing where the Duchess acquired the piece, be it from a relative, a personal shopper or stylist, or a retailer specializing in vintage luxury designs. If it is the latter, one London possibility is always William Vintage, purveyor of vintage one-of-a-kind designs to notable names like Amal Clooney, Victoria Beckham, and Rihanna. Kate’s sister-in-law, the Duchess of Sussex, has also worn pieces sourced by the boutique.  For many, the look was reminiscent of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was fond of pie-crust collars and polka dots.   

UPDATE SEPT 18 2020: Here is a look at the dress as offered in another color on Vestiaire Collective, a fashion resale site. 

The listing doesn’t offer a lot of new information; the seller believes the material is silk.  You do get a better look at the fabric texture in the photos and some of the details like the collar and pleating. Many thanks to Mackie for her comment on this post telling us about the listing!  

The Duchess accessorized with her black velvet ‘Celeste’ clutch by Jimmy Choo.

She also brought back her Romy 100 Black Velvet Pumps ($895), also by Jimmy Choo and a made-to-order style. (I don’t have any good images of the shoes, so I am showing the style as worn to last November’s Festival of Remembrance.)

Kate’s hair was worn partially up.

Her earrings very much look like the Twisted Circle Drop Earrings (£5) by UK retailer and royal favorite Accessorize. The style is 100% brass and measures about 3/4″ long.

Thank you to Replicate Royals for their earring ID!

Thoughts on tonight’s look from The Telegraph’s Tamara Abraham

The magenta and black design ticked several key trend boxes: polka-dots (which are set to stick around for another season), ruffles, and the fact that the dress is not current season, because vintage fashion has never been cooler or more relevant.

That’s because there are multiple benefits to shopping second-hand. For a start, Kate can be assured that her look is original – with vintage fashion (usually defined as a garment that is more than 20 years old), there are rarely multiples of a particular design in circulation, especially when it comes to high-end pieces, so it’s unlikely that anyone else will have the same dress.

Below, the Duke and Duchess as they were leaving tonight’s event. 

And from Vanity Fair’s column

At the BAFTAs last month, Kate repeated a white and gold Alexander McQueen gown from 2012, but for 2020 the event asked all of the people who walked the carpet to lessen their environmental impact by wearing a previously-owned garment. Though climate change isn’t her signature issue, she has supported various initiatives, and the couple made it the main focus of their Pakistan tour last fall. She has spoken and written about how much she cares about the future of the U.K.’s children, and supporting efforts to reduce fashion waste fits in with that message as well.

In case you missed the day’s earlier posts, click here for our coverage on the return of Kate’s ‘Olivia’ coat by Reiss and click here for our look at Kate’s ensemble for an afternoon farm visit and cliff walk.  


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Friday 24th of April 2020

I am at a loss for words - and am doing my best to be tactful here. But this dress is truly awful. It might have been fashionable back then and might even be on trend now, but let’s appreciate how wonderfully Kate works with trends whilst staying true to herself - and this isn’t an example of it. Other than the collar frill (which was, is and will always be ugly), there is too much happening here. Hot pink, plus polka dots, plus the frill - one of her most egregious misses!!! NOTE: admin edit


Monday 13th of April 2020

I've been humming and hawing throughout the length of this post about whether or not I like this dress. In the end, I think I like the dress – but something about the entirety of the look keeps me from loving it. I think it's the fringe: it looks dated which is not good when you are already wearing something that is vintage. The shape of the earrings is awkward and not a good complement to the collar, and while I know Kate really can elevate high street clothes and accessories to make them look almost like designer pieces, these earrings do not fall into that category.

I would be up for seeing this dress again, but preferably when Kate's fringe has grown out.


Monday 9th of March 2020

Love this, this look just reminds me so strongly of Princess Diana. I love that Kate makes the style completely her own though and it suits her through and through. Beautiful.


Sunday 8th of March 2020

In 2020 pretty much only Kate could pull off a look like this and completely OWN IT. I would never have known this is vintage because it fits her current style so well. We all know she loves a ruffled collar. The hot pink is very on trend and a colour she looks great in. I love how she made the dress look so current with those black shoes and other accessories. Someone above mentioned William Vintage; is it confirmed or speculated that’s where Kate got the piece from? If so, I wonder if Meghan turned her on to vintage since we saw her wear pieces from WV first? I hope we see more vintage looks from Kate. It’s a great way for her to channel her unique style and give us some eye candy.


Saturday 7th of March 2020

This was a beautiful dress. She should wear vintage more often.

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