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Kate Pairs Priceless Diamond Necklace with Ink Blue Jenny P for the Portrait Gala at the NPG

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Like a rare champagne, Kate sure knows how to make herself exclusive. She has been quite the limited edition over the past few months, so this evening's event was hotly anticipated. Kate hasn't been seen officially since Christmas Day, and this is her first public engagement of the year 2014. The Portrait Gala at the NPG was billed as a "black-tie with a little sparkle" (see their sparkly stairs) so I was trying to go though my head the possibilities for what she might rewear. Since it was her first big event, I was hoping for a new number, but she recycled her ink blue Jenny Packham from the 100 Women in Hedge Funds event at KP last October. Time certainly has flown. I eliminated this dress from my list of possible rewears because I thought she had worn it too recently, but obviously the Duchess was of a different mind. Although I was hoping for a new piece, this was a dress I very much wanted to get a second crack at, so if she was going to rewear, this was the one to rewear. 

Sparkly stairs into the NPG for their Portrait Gala
Photo Twitter via @QueenVicMirror

When she wore this to the 100 Women in Hedge Funds the lighting conditions were not ideal and I didn't feel like we got to see the full beauty. Tonight certainly gave us a much better look and it is as gorgeous as I imagined. The better light revealed the multi-dimensions of the design so much better! Before, you could see that the skirt was prettier than the low light was able to show. Tonight, the first reports from the frontline said the dress she was wearing was green. With the flash bulbs, it does have almost a hint of deepest blue teal!

Kate Recycles Jenny P at Portrait Gala
Splashnews.com
Kate has always had a penchant for these gorgeous flowing evening gowns, and for good reason. She always ends up looking like a veritable goddess in them. The dress is heavily reminiscent of one of Kate's greats, the Olympic Our Greatest Team Rises dress, also a Packham creation. It is pretty clear why Kate keeps coming back, these two are entirely on the same style page. To my mind, this stunning dress remains one of my favorites from Kate of. all. time. Gorgeous! 

Kate at Our Greatest Team Rises Olympic Black-Tie Event
Splashnews.com
Proving that this isn't, however, just a style influenced by Jenny Packham, but genuinely a style we have seen Kate turn to many times, the flowing skirt also brings to mind the BAFTA McQueen. This dress with which real royalty stunned America's stars was a fantastic success.

William and Kate at the BAFTA gala in Los Angeles
splashnews.com
Or even further back, one of my all-time favorite Kate Middleton era dresses, the gun metal Issa. There are other examples, but I think the point stands, Kate loves these flowing fabrics.

Kate Middleton in Issa at her charity event for Starlight in September 2009
Alan Davidson
Given the addition of sparkly in the dress code, Kate had to add some bling to give this beautiful, but classically understated dress, a little pizzaz. The lucky accessory turned out to be the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace on loan from Her Majesty the Queen. The necklace was a wedding gift to the Queen, but interestingly, was a gift that she got to choose herself. The king of Hyderabad, which has since merged with India, (I had to Google that one) left instructions with Cartier to allow Princess Elizabeth to choose what she wanted from Cartier's collection, and she chose this necklace and a tiara she has since broken down for other pieces. Wonderful royal blog The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor as well as A Tiara a Day both have posts on the tiara with peripheral details about the necklace. I thought this necklace was perfect. The shape flatters Kate's bodice flawlessly and itself is quite arresting, but also beautiful. Necessary components of fine jewelry. Again, Kate has picked a piece with possible significance and import. The Queen wore this necklace often in the earlier days of her reign and for formal portraits as well. Kate is the future queen, and I don't think it is a stretch to say that like princesses of the past, she tells a story with her fashion pieces.

Family Jewels: Kate in the Queen's Nizam Hyderabad Necklace
Splashnews.com
As a patron, Kate has been a regular at the National Portrait Gallery, including in July of 2012 and when pregnant with George last year. Kate's visit in 2012 saw her debuting a priceless Cartier necklace of her own, the $80,000 stunner with rings many thought were reminiscent to the Olympic rings. You can't really see it in this picture, but it's a cool shot of the location...

Duchess of Cambridge at the NPG in 2012
Splashnews.com

Pregnant with George, Kate promotes the Art Room at the NPG in 2013
Splashnews.com
Kate was exquisite this evening. This was a dress that deserved a recycle and my gosh did it shine. The black velvet around her waist matched perfectly with the black pumps peeking out from under the dress, the juxtaposition of the dress's subdued elegance with the lavish sparkle of the diamond necklace, it was all perfect. The one reservation I have this evening is the hair. Neither her recent straight style, nor her world famous waves, these curls look just a tad home-cooked and a little too beach-girl for for the evening. I would have preferred an elegant updo as we saw at the Olympic event to give her ensemble the perfect, polished finish. But, if there is one thing we know about Kate, she is a woman who dances to the beat of her own drum, so she will wear her hair long when she wants to wear her hair long. Her make-up was lovely, she looked rested and perfectly tanned from her recent holiday in Mustique, and it was so fun to get back into this swing of things this year with a floor length evening gown. This was a very strong start to her series of engagements. Can't wait to see her again on Valentine's Day!! 

36 comments:

  1. I agree, Jane. I loved the dress and beautiful necklace but was very underwhelmed by the hair. It simply seemed to hang too close to her face and looked way too beachy-undone-wavy-frizzy. Very out of line with the elegance of the gown and the diamonds. Would have loved a chic chignon.

    -Britt

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    1. Yes, I wish she had gone with an updo. :( Fingers crossed for the next formal event. This dress was stunning, though! Glad you liked it, too.

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  2. Hi Jane, thanks for the great post!! So exciting to finally see Kate out and about. I thought she looked lovely tonight, the dress was sublime and the necklace, WOW!!!, even her eye makeup looked great! I agree with you that this look would have benefited had her hair been swept up into a lovely updo. Maybe she was a little overwhelmed wearing this gorgeous necklace and used her hair as sort of a security blanket? Either way I thought she looked wonderful!

    The only comment I would make is that I would love to see her quit holding her hands together in front of her. It seems to be a new thing as the other pictures you posted her arms are by her side. To me it makes her appear unsure of herself, maybe a little insecure. Which wouldn't we all be in this circumstance? I was really impressed with her poise after the wedding, she seemed so confident and I would love to see her projecting that poise and confidence once again.

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    1. Yes, Lauri! I agree. The hands were bothering me, too. My initial thought was she should keep a clutch again if she can't relax her arms, but even better would be to work on breaking the habit. It does make her look far too timid.

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  3. She looks great! Did anyone else notice an extra band on her ring finger? There is one picture where she is talking to someone and it appears there is some extra sparkle there. Any thoughts?

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    1. I noticed it too, but after looking at other pictures, it seems to just be a shadow or maybe caused by all the flashbulbs. I was hoping she might wear the new ring she wore the last time she wore this dress. Maybe next time!

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    2. Aaah, I also saw that and thought it looked thicker like she had stacked another ring. I can't find a definitive picture, but I tend to agree with Lauri that it is probably the shadows and lighting. It would be a strange place to add a ring, in my mind... But, I certainly could be wrong. I will have to poke around at other pictures.

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    3. I amend my earlier statement. She is absolutely wearing a new ring. I am 99% sure there is a diamond band in front of her engagement ring.

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  4. She has the "holding hands in front" stance alot, i find it annoying. Think she she take an acting lesson to see what to do with so many people watching

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    1. Yes, just recently she seems to have ditched the clutch and grasped her fingers which does come off as a little unnatural and so a little awkward. It makes me feel like she feels uncomfortable. I imagine someone will get her to right that sooner or later.

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  5. She needs a new stylist for her hair. Love everything else.

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  6. Love the dress & jewelry, but she needs a new stylist for her hair. I believe she uses her hair as a security blanket.

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    1. I think there could be an element of truth there, but I also think it is the styling giving a greater impression of reticence than is actually the case. Recently, it seems like she hides behind her hair more than before, but I think that is the looser and less structured style. She used to get a more structured blowout that sculpted her hair off her face. I definitely think she should go back to that. More confident looking.

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  7. I thought the same thing regarding her ring finger. At first I thought she did not have on her engagement ring but then saw another photo and there it was. Maybe it was a ring William gave her. But I do have to say she looked just so stunning tonight. The only thing missing was William by her side. But this was her thing. So maybe William was on daddy duty.

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    1. She definitely appears more confident if he is with her. We will have to wait and see it we see that ring again

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    2. I am super interested to get another photo that better shows her hand. it seems like a lot of people think it was another ring and not just a shadow. Maybe the push present we were wondering if she received?
      I think she portably is more comfortable with William there, but that seems kind of natural. I am usually more relaxed with a date than going solo...

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    3. Pauline, I agree, there is another ring there. My money is on push-present from William.

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  8. Kate is beautiful and looks great in anything she wears, but she is not really trying to look glamorous. It seems as if she gets dressed, tosses her hair a bit and runs out the door to her "job". Even the jewels don't give off the wow-factor one would expect. She could have worn her Zara necklace and it would have been all the same. Perhaps spending time with George and William is her real joy in life, and good for her.

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    1. Well, I think she is trying to look beautiful and I think there is a sense that she should (and therefore I know is) trying to look appropriately regal for these formal occasions. Kate is going to ease into the intense royal jewels slowly, that is clear, nevertheless, I don't think that this necklace lacked wow factor. Those aren't fakes and THAT is a bit of a wow in itself. Plus, they are historical and there is meaning to that. I think the necklace was par for the course from Kate. Not blindingly loud, but a slow transition toward more bling. We all like down to earth and chill just fine, but we also want royals to be royals. This was a good night for that.

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  9. Hi Jane ,

    Can u tell me something as a woman..? Why does our Kate not tie her hair up especially on formal occasions. She is wearing such a beautiful necklace too. I don't understand.??

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    1. Um, well, every woman is different. Kate clearly loves her hair down. She has worn it down, as you know, for formal and informal occasions almost all her life. I actually think that it is change that makes us feel more glamorous or sexy. I myself usually wear my hair up, so it's very special and fun for me to go with long curls or a blowout. I think that is also why we get excited when Kate wears her hair up, but of course she truly looks lovely when she does. She has a great face and beautiful bone structure. I guess the answer to your question is, I am not sure. My guess would be that Kate feels most comfortable with her hair down. Actually, it may also have to do with William. We know he likes her hair long and that is one of the reasons she made sure part of it was down at the wedding. Not that Kate caters to his every whim, but obviously she has always felt most beautiful with her hair down and he likes it, too. I like it, I just think variety is the spice of life and some of the dresses need an updo more than others. Not the best answer, but the best I can do for you at the moment. :)

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    2. Actually I was suprised that she recycled this dress so soon but I love it anyway. Only thing I do not get is her hair, I think if you go to a formal occassion you do not wear a beachy style. It is a safe blanket for her I guess. A.

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  10. Hi Jane,

    Thanx for the reply,

    The thing is though Kate is always playing with her hair, moving it off out of her face or slightly flicking the fringe back with a shake of the head. If you notice models are trained to keep their head still and look ahead, as if balancing a imaginary book on their head. She is obviously taught etiquette I've noticed because when she sit's down, she elegantly and puts the right heel behind the left heel.. but why doesn't it extend to the upper body, the whole package including her hair. I've notice too she shakes hands, while with the other she holds her back her hair..

    I've watched Cp Mary of Denmark, who although isn't from a royal background, puts in a tremendous amount of effort into her appearance and demeanour at formal events.. Princess Madeline of Sweden has it naturally also, effortless grace and so composed. Our kate has beauty, she has the height, beautiful hair, yet she get's it wrong on these occasions time and again. Such a beautiful necklace, and ear peices lent by the Queen herself, and yet it can't be seen , because her long tussled fly-away hair is covering them.

    I was so happy to see her again, I really love her, I want to see wonderment, splendour, glaymoorrrr, take my breath away elegance and royal class. My mum, and my nieces was so disappointed, about not having her upstyled on this particular occasion. They follow her religiously, buy all the magazines, always discuss her fashions, watch all her videos etc, yet today they seemed perplexed.

    We in Britain discuss the royal family like their members of our family. We argue, we scold, we praise them, everything any family does. They're part of us, we grow up with them, we're protective of them. Kate has to put in more effort or it will set a template, and she will make it harder for herself. I know it ain't easy and she comes from humble beginings, but she can't not try, or critical press will follow her, more than praise her. (Daily Fail) i'm guessing.

    The dress is fine, the shoes fantastic, just got it wrong about the hair.( Arghh so fustrating) Ps someone mentioned they would like to see her in a elegant long black dress sometimes. I could be wrong, but protocol doesn't allow them to wear black. I know Diana broke that rule on a few occasions, but I'm sure I read it somewhere about it..

    Thanks Jane. for the blog, I want her to be perfect., I'll give her all the time she needs.

    Sam


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    1. Hi Sam Why do people always have to compare Kate with other royal women. They are completely different women. As a woman I do not like to be compare to someone else. And I bet Kate does not either.

      These women are all beautiful and do great things for their countries but let's not compare Kate with these toher women.

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  11. I'm feeling mixed emotions here. I'm excited to see kate after so long and that dress is beautiful, however I was Hoping she would wear something new and also the hair?
    Kate has beautiful hair but I do wish she would wear it up at these events, a dress with that neckline and that unique jewelry calls for an elegant up do to show them off.

    That being said she did look beautiful as she always does, but I totally agree with Diana M that kate uses her hair as a security blanket if it's up she can't play with it the way she normally does when she doesn't know what to do with her hands.

    So excited for her engagement on the 14th I really hope she will be wearing a new outfit.

    Great post jane excited to be checking in regularly again!

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  12. I'm un-decided about this look. For me, that necklace doesn't sit right with the neckline of the dress and hair down combination. I love the skirt of the dress, but the shoulders don't work - I don't think Kate suits off the shoulder so well as she suits some of the other styles. For that necklace to have worked better, I think an up do, and plainer earrings and a plainer neckline would have worked better. Great post as ever though, Jane x

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  13. Hi Jane! Great post as always! I agree with everything that you wrote!. I don't like the hair neither and I think that it hides the magnificient necklace!
    Can't wait to see her later on Friday!
    Martina, Italy

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  14. She looks beautiful, although I would have loved to see her hair half up for this event. That way the focus would have lain more on her face and necklace, plus you would still see her gorgeous hair in all its glory.

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  15. There is an extra band on top of her engagement ring

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/live-kate-middleton-national-portrait-3134906

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  16. She looks much better in this dress tonight except the hair and I am not so sure about the necklace. Last time she wore it she had far far far too much blush on so props to the make up this time round!

    Her hair causes a lot of problems, if its indy she should wear it down she is constantly fiddling with it. Its really bad especially during her 3 line speeches. One of the rules for public speeching is that you are not allowed to fiddle and move around too much. Its far too destracting for the audience.

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  17. Random side note The British Royal family can sometimes be so boring. Kate did a public address sometime last year and it was the most dreary thing I´ve ever watcheed. They´re young and they aim to draw people´s attention to the various causes especially young people. I dont know how they plan on acheiving that with an address which sounded like a eulogy. They really need to work on these things. William and Harry´s public addressess are far too serious and dreary. The do talk about serious topics but they need to make it more suitable for the youth.

    I still really like Kate though!

    N

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  18. I love the necklace - this is a BIG moment for Kate, HM doesn't lend out the big jewels to just anyone, they are earned. I love the bottom of this dress but agree the shoulders don't seem right, not with those sleeves. Go sleeveless or make them lace caps! Also, I had that same exact hair for prom, sadly... beautiful when it was done but then falling flat and 'beachy' by the time we arrived - whoever has been styling her hair for engagements for the past several months is just horrible, there's no excuse for her to be using someone so inept at making her beautiful hair look good, it looks like an amateur using sub-par tools. However, THE NECKLACE, the diamonds - I really can't see anything else in these pictures. :)

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  19. LOVE Kate's hair DOWN!!! She has such Glorious hair and how boring to ALWAYS be politically correct. Just because it is the norm to have hair up in a gown (except for Angelina Jolie) does not mean it is wrong. She has the rest of her life to wear her hair in what is considered PROPER!! I am sure she gets so much flack from showing off her crowning glory in the way she likes and the way I like that every time I see her hair down I have to CHEER!!! I am sure the pressure is mounting and soon enough we will never be able to see her lovely locks except when she is doing mundane chores.

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  20. I love that dress. Stunning!

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  21. I love the dress, even If I wish we can enjoy a new dress.. I adore her hair, but this time they are not in line with the elegance of the outfit..

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