Hello, and welcome to another florally-themed retrospective on Kate’s clothing. Today, we’re looking at how that motif has been incorporated into the Duchess’s more formal appearances. It turns out there are so many engagements falling under this umbrella that I had to break them into little sub-groups to try and make the overall collection easier to look at and digest.
We begin with a group of lace gowns. From left to right, the ‘Amoret’ by Temperley London, worn to several different events; the ‘Zarita’ by Diane Von Furstenberg as initially worn for the November 2014 Royal Variety Performance; a green lace Temperley seen at the 2017 National Portrait Gallery gala; a black lace look by Alexander McQueen chosen for the 2019 Royal Variety Performance.
Let’s look at the Amoret, worn on three different occasions. It was first seen at the War Horse film premiere in January of 2012; it was worn again ten months later at a Saint Andrews University fundraiser; the third appearance was in December 2013 at an event at the Natural History Museum.
As mentioned, we first saw the Zarita at the 2014 Royal Variety Performance (below right); the Duchess brought it back for a November 2017 Freud Centre gala (below left); it looked like she wore it a few weeks later to the party celebrating the Queen and Prince Philip’s 70th wedding anniversary. (There are no photos showing the dress at this event.)
A better view of the lace used for each dress.
Next, two gowns by Alexander McQueen. On the left, a gold and ivory gown seen most recently at this year’s BAFTA Awards in February, and as it was originally worn to a 2012 Malaysia state dinner. On the right side, a floral-themed gown Kate wore for a 2019 Natural History Museum function, and the dress at the 2017 BAFTA Awards.
The ivory and gold dress was embellished with hundreds of hibiscus flowers, Malaysia’s official flower; the black gown featured white and violet flowers atop green stems.
You may remember the great debate about the black floral McQueen dress after the engagement at the Natural History Museum. Was it a new dress? A piece that was reworked? There is more detail in the post, but here is what I wrote: “…my best guess: the Duchess had the bodice reworked to add the sleeves but kept the same skirt or the majority of it.”
Kate has worn enough full-length Erdem designs to rate a separate category. From left to right: at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show Kate wore the Erdem ‘Sheba’ dress; at a 2018 black-tie dinner in Sweden, she was in a version of the ‘Stephanie’ gown; and on the right, the ‘Alouette’ splashed with flowers and a tiered skirt was worn to the 100 Women in Hedge Funds dinner in October 2015.
A better view of the flowers used in the three dresses.
Our next group of dresses features pieces worn during the 2016 India/Bhutan tour. From left to right, the Beulah London ‘Juliet’ splashed with poppies and worn to a Bhutan reception, a country whose national flower is the Himalayan poppy; in the center, the Tory Burch Floral Mesh Gown Kate wore for another reception in Bhutan; on the right, an Anna Sui dress worn for the couple’s arrival at Kaziranga National Park.
Below, a closer look at the material used in each dress.
Next, a trio of gowns by Jenny Packham. On the left, the design worn to the 2017 Royal Variety Performance; the soft blue gown chosen for the black-tie dinner in Paris; on the right, the vibrant blue style worn for a gala dinner in Mumbai.
The vibrant blue design was worn again this March for a Place2Be Reception at Buckingham Palace.
I almost missed a couple of these styles when going through photos because the flowers didn’t jump out visually. But if there was any doubt regarding the floral element, here are fabric closeups.
That wraps up our survey of formal looks featuring a floral motif. We still have to cover all of the day dresses the Duchess has sported over the years. Trust me when I say there are a lot!
In case you missed it, our premiere piece in the floral series covered day dresses with the theme woven into the fabric, as opposed to being printed on the material.
Our Fashion Flashback is from just one year ago when Kate took part in photography workshops with young people from Action for Children, one of her patronages.
It dovetailed nicely with news the Duchess was named as Patron of the Royal Photographic Society.
Kate’s dress was by Ridley London.
It is the Virginia Midi Dress in a Liberty London silk chiffon print. The design featured a v-neck, flutter sleeves, a fitted bodice with an A-line skirt with a flounced hem.
Kate kept her accessories simple, wearing her Castañer ‘Carina’ espadrilles. The style is back in stock on the Net-a-Porter US site ($190) and also on the UK site (£120).
And her Fern Hoop Earrings (£150/$188) by Catherine Zoraida.
On Tuesday, the Duke and Duchess had a call with members of staff from Surrey Memorial Hospital in British Columbia, Canada, so I am hoping we’ll see a new video in the next day or two. If it is released today (Thursday) I may just put it at the top of this post.
Monday 6th of July 2020
I adore the Beulah Poppy Print dress- so beautiful, flowy, simple and vibrant. I hope someday we get a re-wear.
My favorite lace gown (it is hard to choose!) is the green Temperley dress. All of the gowns are really beautiful, and suit Kate so well.
The Erdem- specifically the mustard yellow floral with the shiny fabric and flounces worn on the Scandinavian tour- the less said about that the better. I know some loved it- I found it dreadful, and honestly, I usually like some aspect of Kate's clothing, but this dress, for me, was irredeemable.
Wednesday 1st of July 2020
The vibrant blue Jenny Packham gown that Kate first wore in Mumbai is one of my favourites ever. The colour, the neckline and the beading are all absolutely beautiful. I was so pleased to see it again this year; it definitely deserved another outing. The sheer, beaded shawl worn with it in India for cultural reasons added a lovely element, working with the opaque bodice so well. The matching bag was another gorgeous touch. I think the Mumbai version should be an Iconic Look!
Monday 29th of June 2020
I liked all of the lace gowns, to varying degrees, with the Amoret being my favorite of the bunch. The hibiscus dress was nice and I thought the reworking of the floral McQueen definitley improved it. I hated all of the floral Erdem gowns with a passion. The blue Packham gowns are okay, with the dark blue one from Mumbai being my favorite.
Saturday 27th of June 2020
I’m delighted to see we can complete our floral retrospective with such a flourish. From the lace gowns I would pick the green Packham without hesitation, partly because it isn’t black, but also because I much prefer the effect of lace overlaid on person rather than a pale under-slip as that seems to photograph so poorly. I really like how the green lace has the low under-bodice to expose as much skin as is seemly for royalty.
Of the two McQueen gowns the hibiscus pattern was simply amazing, beautiful work, but the overall style is too costumey. I loved the dark floral, but the slender shoulder straps were awkward over Kate’s athletic shoulders and I can understand her alteration on the second outing though I prefer the original style.
Then at last we have three standout print florals of which my top favourite is, and ever will be, the divine Alouette with the genius, bold, subtly oriental design, so pitch-perfect for a trip to the textile-conscious V&A. The wonderful Erdem Sheba from Sweden is a much under-rated dress in my view and were we voting might get my pick out of sympathy to make up for those who overlook its highly original colouring and crafted styling. The blue Erdem simply comes into my own category of over-fussy and lacking in direction.
Another massive favourite of mine was the Tory Burch Floral Mesh, for which I impatiently wait for a repeat outing. Thank you so much for the close-up of the amazing work on it. The red floral Beulah was the best I’ve seen Kate wear from that label. My Packham preference is for the pale blue gown worn in Paris, I find that a delight of chic, proportion, and gentle embellishment, which embodies the best of Packham. The ink blue was lovely, but a shade too conventional, and the Royal Variety Performance mid-blue I continue to find confusing with the embellishment too pronounced and the whole lacking definition. Once again, thanks for close-ups of the fantastic work on all these beautiful gowns.
I’m indebted to you for the flashback as I have a cotton top in that lovely Liberty print which I am reminded would be great to wear for tomorrow’s dose of the sticky weather we are now having.
Saturday 27th of June 2020
Erdem Stephanie from Sweden, not Sheba. Sheba is the one I'm not so keen on from the Chelsea Flower Show :( My bad,
Saturday 27th of June 2020
Is the Erdem Sheba dress truly considered an evening gown? Or the Anna Sui? They look extremely out of place in this showcase... I’m not convinced that the events to which they were worn could be considered formal enough for evening gowns. Yes, they’re floral, but the similarity ends there to my mind.
Saturday 27th of June 2020
Oh, terrific point, Jeslyn, thank you! I meant to note that in the body of the post and completely forgot.