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The Duchess Wears Eponine London to Mark Hold Still Book Launch

The Duchess of Cambridge debuted a new coat today as she marked the official publication of Hold Still: A Portrait Of Our Nation in 2020

The Hold Still project was spearheaded by the Duchess in tandem with the National Portrait Gallery.  It was a year ago today that the Duchess launched the endeavor with an interview on ITV’s This Morning show, asking people to submit photos showing life in lockdown.

Below, the 186-page hardcover book, which features 100 photo portraits selected from thousands submitted in May and June of last year.

You may recall that the Duchess wrote the book’s introduction. Kate started the day by placing a copy of the book on the grounds of Kensington Palace as part of a partnership with The Book Fairies.  

The book after the Duchess placed it in Kensington Gardens.

More from People’s story

Ahead of her morning visits, Kate shared footage from her outing in support of The Book Fairies — a U.K.-based organization with the purpose of sharing books, leaving them in places for people worldwide to discover — in conjunction with the release of her bookThe royal took part in hiding 150 copies of Hold Still in secret locations around the U.K., according to the release.

A Tweet from the Book Fairies shows one copy amidst a lovely group of flowers. 

A closer look at one of the books via this Tweet from Alice Borsatti.

And the letter inside each of the hidden copies. 

Copies were placed throughout the UK.  In Edinburgh, Scotland, these St. Mary’s Primary School students shared their find with deputy head Fiona Mcdonnell.

Nina Robinson, who has a photo included in the book, placed a Book Fairies copy near Crystal Palace Park just south of London. 

Victoria Ward reports in her Telegraph story, “The aim of the treasure hunt was to take the 100 portraits featured in the book “back to the community” by allowing the wider public to learn about the project and the powerful individual stories behind each image.” Below, two more locations.

You can see many more hidden copies and stories of how/why they were hidden on social media using the hashtag #HSBookFairies.

Now to the Duchess’s engagements today. Her first was at the Royal London Hospital, where she heard how art is commissioned by the hospital’s award-winning arts and health service, Vital Arts

She was shown some of the art displayed in the hospital’s wards, waiting rooms, and corridors.

She also heard more about how the National Portrait Gallery collaborates with the hospital to bring workshops to young patients and their families. Here you see her with Director of Vital Arts for Barts Health NHS Trust, Catsou Roberts (C), and Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Nicholas Cullinan (R).

One of the pieces the Duchess viewed was the framed portrait of Melanie, March 2020 by Johannah Churchill, which is on the cover of the Hold Still book.

The Duchess takes a closer look.

Kensington Palace reports the photo will “hang in the hospital’s main corridor as a reminder of the phenomenal efforts of NHS staff throughout the pandemic. Further portraits will be given to locations around the UK for public display over the coming months.” 

At the hospital, the Duchess spoke with staff to learn how everyone is coping with the impact of the pandemic. A quick video via Emily Nash of Hello.

In January, the hospital was caring for double the COVID patients treated during the first wave. The Duchess also shared photos taken by staff documenting the pandemic.

The Duchess then visited the National Portrait Gallery. 

She has been the gallery’s royal patron since 2012. Today she visited the gallery’s archive. 

In these images, you see her with curator Magda Keaney.  The photo being viewed below is of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised millions for the NHS (National Health Service) Charities; it is one of the one-hundred Hold Still images. 

Kensington Palace reports in a news release, “The gallery is home to the largest collection of portraits in the world, including over 250,000 photographs which span from the 1840s through to the present day.”  Another view, this one via The Daily Mail’s Rebecca English

She also met with Hold Still entrants Lotti Sofia, Niaz Maleknia, and Claudia Burton, whose photographs feature in the book. 

The Duchess listens as Naz Maleknia (C) and Claudia Burton (R), tell her more about the stories behind their photographs and their love of photography.

Now for our look at what Kate wore for the day’s activities.

She was in a new (to us) coat by Eponine London, a London-based boutique brand she has worn previously.  The piece is from the 2018 A/W line and called the Wool Crepe Coat with Mandarin Collar. 

The vibrant coat features a front closure with self-covered buttons, buttons at the sleeve, scoop pockets at the hip, back waist belt, and the Mandarin collar.  Thank you to Laura for her identification of the coat.

Beneath the coat, we had a partial look at a skirt the Duchess was wearing. It looks like a past-season piece from Zara, the Pleated Skirt with Belt ($89.90, out of stock).

The pleated a-line midi skirt is made of a poly/viscose/elastane blend, with a hidden zipper side closure, and it came with a self-belt.  Many thanks to Michael for a Facebook message suggesting this is the piece the Duchess was wearing. UPDATE: As Katerina points out in a comment, the hem depth is different on the Duchess’s skirt from the Zara skirt. I attributed this to Kate having had it hemmed after purchasing the skirt, but it is also possible it is not the Zara skirt.  

Kate carried a new bag, the Nano Montreal ($395) in ‘smooth toffee leather’ by Demellier London.

The bag measures roughly 7″ x 4.5″ x 3.5″ and has an adjustable, removable strap so it may be carried by the handle or worn as a cross-body style.  Demellier notes its suppliers are “certified by the European Leather Working Group, guaranteeing the highest standards of sustainability and sourcing.”   The company continues its permanent charity initiative A Bag, A Life, “funding lifesaving vaccines and medical treatments aimed to save the life of a child in need, in collaboration with international charity SOS Children’s Villages and local vaccine providers.” Many thanks to Lauren for her speedy ID of the bag

Kate brought back a pair of pumps by Ralph Lauren, the retailer’s Celia style ($742), first noted in September 2020.  The Celia is a classic point-toe pump in calfskin with a 4.1″ heel.

She also wore her ‘Empress’ earrings by Mappin and Webb. 

The Hold Still book is available through the National Portrait Gallery and also at Amazon UKThe Rumble reports the book “has become an instant bestseller less than 24 hours after its release. The stunning book stormed to the top of the Amazon bestseller list in numerous categories, including Cultural studies, Photography Collections & Exhibitions, Portraits in Art, Architecture & Photography, and the overall Best Seller list.”

Net proceeds from the book’s sale will be equally split to support the work of the National Portrait Gallery and Mind, a mental health charity. 


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Monday 17th of May 2021

Beautiful Beautiful Beautiful!!!! That's how I feel about that Glorious coat the Duchess is wearing, and the Glorious color of the coat - so VIVID!!!! It's Just Thrilling to see and I hope she wears it again and again. I also love a neutral like beige paired with such a bold red. That hot, orange-red looks so great with (what, to me) is usually a dull color: beige. However, with fiery red, beige becomes an exciting counterpoint that doesn't compete but actually holds its own. Gorgeous heels, skirt and purse, too. Great outfit, Kate!!!

Debra bishop

Friday 14th of May 2021

I’ve started following Catherine cuz no Meghan (sob) and am very happy to see Catherine is definitely upped her game. This outfit is lovely, the red with camel accessories & top and it’s less “fit & flare” a look I just can’t like. 4 stars


Thursday 13th of May 2021

I just wish the Duchess would not wear such ridiculously high heels. They are not good for the feet. I am not suggesting sneakers or flats but not so high heels.


Wednesday 12th of May 2021

I almost always love what Kate wears (truly...99% of the time) but this one is a huge miss for me. I do like the collar and upper section of the coat along with the belt detail on the reverse, but I dislike the shortened sleeves and the way the buttons don't seem to keep the coat properly closed when she is standing. The shorter sleeves also look odd with the extreme length of the coat. It gives the illusion that the measurements were not correct or this was bought off the rack without trying on. This particular color of red generally incites anger, excitement and fire so I'm thinking it's not the best choice. Kate seems to look better in reds that have a blue undertone instead of a yellow one. The skirt is also not to my taste. Every time I see Kate in a pleated skirt it looks old, out of fashion or as if a little girl should be wearing it. The fabric looks like a low cost, satin nighty. I also think the brown purse and shoes are better suited to fall and not spring. The Mappin and Webb earrings are always lovely but gold would be a better choice for this coat and skirt ensemble. Not a fan of this overall look at all.


Tuesday 11th of May 2021

The cover portrait of "Hold Still," Melanie, March 2020, reminds me of an "old master" portrait due to the position of the subject. And of course that comparison is made more interesting by the contrast between the exhausted nurse (I think she is s a nurse?) and the often elegant subjects in the old master portraits.

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