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It’s Self-Portrait and Chanel for National Portrait Gallery Reopening

It’s Self-Portrait and Chanel for National Portrait Gallery Reopening

The Princess of Wales chose a Self-Portrait design for today’s engagement at the National Portrait Gallery. Below, the Princess is welcomed by Sir Ken Olisa, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London.

In this photo, you also see Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, the Gallery’s Director.

A quick video as the Princess arrived. 

The Princess was there to celebrate the Gallery’s reopening on Thursday following an enormous refurbishment project.

Many will recall the Princess is the Gallery’s royal patron, a role she took on in 2012.

Here you see her with artist Tracey Emin (l) and Jamie Fobert, the project architect (c).

Ms. Emin was commissioned to create artwork for the Gallery’s new doors. The doors now have 45 carved brass panels created to represent ‘every woman, throughout time.”

A closer look at two of the panels. 

More on the renovations from this Telegraph article by India McTaggart.

After being closed for three years, the gallery will reopen to the public this Thursday with around 20 per cent more space for its collection of nationally significant portraiture, which includes subjects ranging from Winston Churchill to William Shakespeare.

The refurbishment programme also means a comprehensive redisplay of its collection in redone galleries, including more than 50 new acquisitions, and the restoration of the Grade I-listed building.

The Princess is seen in front of “Portrait of Mai (Omai),” by Joshua Reynolds.

Simon Perry notes in his People story that the artwork “is widely regarded as the finest portrait produced by one of Britain’s greatest-ever artists, according to a release from Kate’s office. It was jointly acquired by the Gallery and Getty earlier this year following a historic fundraising campaign.”

The Mail’s Rebecca English shared several videos on social media. 

Below, the Princess and Mr. Cullinan are seen in front of a portrait of Queen Victoria by Sir George Hayter.

The Princess viewed the Yevonde: Life and Colour exhibit. 

A Kensington Palace new release points out the Princess learned about “….the life and career of Yevonde, the pioneering London photographer who spearheaded the use of colour photography in the 1930s.” The NPG acquired the photographer’s 60-year archive in 2021.

The Gallery’s site reports the photographer said, “If we are going to have colour photographs, for heaven’s sake let’s have a riot of colour, none of your wishy-washy hand-tinted effects” when speaking to the Royal Photographic Society in 1932.

The exhibition is supported by the Chanel Culture Fund as part of the Gallery’s Reframing Narratives: Women in Portraiture. The Reframing Narratives initiative is “a three-year project, which aims to enhance the representation of women in the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection and highlight the often-overlooked stories of individual women who have shaped British history and culture.”

The Princess also met Sir Paul McCartney and his wife, Nancy Shevell. 

The Daily Mail has more on their conversation. 

Sir Paul, in his customary suit and trainers, greeted the princess with a handshake and introduced Kate to his wife, Nancy.

‘Hello, nice to meet you too,’ the princess said. McCartney told her that the NPG staff ‘had been amazing here, really they’ve been great’.

‘It’s amazing how long the planning is, how many conversations happen pre everything,’ Kate replied. ‘That’s true,’ the star said.

Explaining more about his exhibition, McCartney said it focused on a very specific period, 1963 to 1964. ‘When you weren’t even born’, he said, smiling, to the royal.

Another view of the trio. 

We return to Rebecca English’s Daily Mail piece

Kate was keen to ask McCartney how he was able to choose ‘what pieces you wanted in there’.

The singer said he had the help of the gallery’s curator and his own archivist. ‘But were there pieces that were very important to you personally?,’ she asked.

‘For me the pictures of John and George particularly, just because they are not here,’ he replied.

The encounter, in the unprepossessing surroundings of the gallery’s gift shop, was a last minute addition to the princess’s schedule given that McCartney – whose exhibition is entitled Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64 Eyes of the Storm’ – was in town.

A graphic featuring the upcoming exhibit.

The Princess took part in a hands-on workshop for children.

More from the Tatler piece

Her Royal Highness heard about the Gallery’s new children’s programme, before joining nursery children taking part in a multi-sensory workshop focused on the world of Beatrix  Potter. Set to launch in September, the new programme, designed for children under-5, ‘has been developed in partnership with the London Borough of Westminster family hubs and local state nurseries’, and will ‘welcome families from the local community to the Gallery and encourage creative learning, play and exploration.’ 

 Kensington Palace posted a brief preview of the newly renovated museum. 

Now for our look at what Kate wore to the National Portrait Gallery today. 

She wore Self-Portrait’s Metallic Bouclé and Chiffon Midi Dress ($655),with thanks to UFO No More for the ID.

The design features a tailored bouclé upper portion with a pleated skirt, both made of polyester. The jacket has a cinched waist and belt, shoulder pads, contrasting crystal-embellished trim at the neckline, center front, and cuffs. The pleated chiffon skirt has a floaty, soft feel. I don’t know if the domed decorative buttons are functional or not. I would have thought not because of their depth, but the My Theresa (sold out) product listing says, “Closure: buttoned front, zipper, hook fastening,” 

A closer look at details, including one of the decorative buttons, pocket trim, and belt. NOTE: Thank you to Sharon for pointing out the Princess is not wearing the belt that comes with the dress; hers is bouclé, like the upper portion of the dress.

Thoughts on the dress from a British Vogue article

At first glance it looks like the Princess is wearing a tailored bouclé tweed jacket over a white chiffon pleated midi skirt, but her outfit is a dress, rather than separates. The jacket element has a slight peplum effect and a belted waist, which flows perfectly into the pleated midi skirt. The result is streamlined and polished.

The Princess of Wales frequently turns to the mid-range London-based brand, founded by the Malaysian designer Han Chong, for her public appearances. “I love dressing the royals,” Chong previously told Vogue. “It’s a positive thing that women now have more choices than just high street or designer. It’s a good message to young girls that princesses wear £300 dresses to big events. It makes me proud.”

She carried a new Chanel bag, the brand’s Classic Wallet on Chain ($3350). It is made of lambskin and has a detachable metal chain, measuring roughly 5″ x 7″ x 1.5″.

This makes sense when recognizing the Chanel Culture Fund’s exhibit sponsorship. 

We saw the return of the Aquazzura Bow Tie 105 heels. The point-toe style features side cutouts, a 4″ heel, and distinctive bows at the back.

The style is available in most sizes at 24S ($725); in limited sizes at Farfetch ($725); in a mix of sizes at My Theresa ($795); in larger sizes at Neiman Marcus ($850); in almost all sizes at Shopbop ($850) and at Aquazzura ($850), and in just two sizes at Harrods ($736).

The Princess brought back her Imitation Pearl and Diamond Earrings ($120) by Heavenly London in rhodium-plated sterling silver with reconstituted resin ‘pearls.’

I don’t know if/when the Princess will attend Royal Ascot, which runs the rest of the week. I’ll leave you with one more photo from today’s engagement.


ITN’s Royal Family Channel offers almost seven minute of coverage in this video. 

 This Times video runs about 1:30 in length. 


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Sunday 6th of August 2023

In general I've gotten bored of Self Portrait, but this dress has enough stylistic touches to make it interesting. I love the contrasting colours and the embellished buttons, and it's a look that's easy to accessorise with a simple black bag and pumps. I love that Kate went for a more whimsical shoe this time around and her hair looks incredible. I've missed those big curls!

The fact that she wore Self Portrait to the National Portrait Gallery is so relatable – I can just imagine suggesting such a simple silly association to my friends and everyone laughing about it. The fact that Kate went through with it makes it feel like she's just one of us!

Julie P.

Sunday 25th of June 2023

I honestly didn't think I'd be in the minority, but I absolutely loved this look.


Saturday 24th of June 2023

What else to wear to a portrait gallery than a self-portrait dress. The Princess does have a great sense of humour 😊


Thursday 22nd of June 2023

Knock-out look, some fabulous fashion this week, taking a few more edgy risks instead of super conservative.

The combined jacket and skirt is simply divine. Kate is tall and the effect is stylish whilst still maintaining a corporate look with jacket but fun element with floaty skirt.

The shoes are simply divine, the heel height, the bow adornment on the back with the side cut out.

The nitpickers are out which is sad. Let's celebrate the event, the position and the person.

Can't wait for Ascot, my bet a truly amazing Elie Saab in a soft green. Today's coverage was fabulous, Zara Tindall was stunning in a white lace Scanlon and Theodore, just another hint they love Australia and she is supporting our fashion industry. Earlier in the week a Leo Lin and now ST. Zara has worn lots of Zimmerman which is getting increased global attention. Sure some of Ascot outfits will be featured when they visit in January for Magic Millions.

Overall an absolutely catwalk of stunning fashion this week.


Saturday 24th of June 2023

@Molly, yes, that red looks so Gorgeous on the Princess! I am looking forward to commenting on her bold, beautiful Ascot ensemble!


Friday 23rd of June 2023

@Zell, I was wrong, a gorgeous red AM. I just assumed that Catherine would wear a muted tone as most other racegoers have.

In Australia we are 11 hours in front so always a lovely surprise when reading the news of the day first thing in morning. Our TV station has just done a glorious overview of all royal fashion at Ascot this week.


Friday 23rd of June 2023

@Molly, I've been enjoying the Ascot fashions of the Royals ladies too (and King Charles, who truly dresses beautifully and with a lot of flair and style), and all the while, I've been hoping to see Princess Catherine at Ascot. I'm several hours behind Britain so maybe it's already happened. Also, I just love all you wrote about the beautiful outfit of Princess Catherine.


Thursday 22nd of June 2023

Ugh just wear a Chanel dress to a Chanel - sponsored event. It's not that hard. I find it hard to believe that Kate doesn't have ANY Chanel in her closet that she can re-wear. Also, like everyone else said- the top half is too heavy and the bottom half is too floaty for it to look cohesive. And the earrings look cheap. A disappointing look.

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