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Down Under Day 18: Kate Surprises in Lela Rose at the Governor-General's Reception

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I wanted floorlength. If we are going to stay up so late, I thought, let it be for floorlength. It was not floorlength. I am not attempting to incite revolution here, but I will say that every tour has scored one long gown. The North American tour got the Greek goddess McQueen dress at the BAFTAs...



...and South East Asia got the Disney Princess gold McQueen.



I thought Australia would get a floorlength on the last night. As I say, don't crack out the torches and pitchforks, but put it on credit. Kate owes you Down Under. Thankfully, the couple have sworn up and down they will be back.




BUT, even if this was not to be, and honestly the stars were aligned against us from the start, I thought surely it would be an Aussie label. Surely. I don't think anyone, anywhere expected what we got. A brand new label from a designer born in...Texas, USA. Lela Rose has designed on several occasions for fellow Texans Barbara and Jenna Bush, including Jenna's wedding and the dresses for both girls at President Bush's 2001 inauguration.  If she wasn't going to wear a local label, I do admit I am a little bit excited she plunked for American. The Yanks rarely get the royal nod.




Nevertheless, this dress doesn't really move me. It's pretty. I like it. Kate looked lovely, as is not unusual. Putting her hair in an updo such as this is always a signal that the event is formal, and gives the entire ensemble a very polished finish.


The white is striking on her, while the lacey shoulders and peplum add surprise and interest.



Also at the high end of her formal-mode are the diamond bracelet and earrings gifted to her by Prince Charles as a wedding present, so it was special to see those make an appearance.




When she moves the clutch out of the way, we get a more complete sense of the dress, and my approval inches a little higher. She really went bold with her make-up as well: her eye-liner was particularly dark and smokey, eyebrows were strong, and she balanced with a soft almost mauve lip that matched her cheeks. She was lovely. The dress was confusing.




Maybe I am subconsciously making up arguments in favor, but it reminds me of a little of Lady Mary's wardrobe. Not one specific dress, but the costume designer over at Downton Abbey makes liberal use of sleeves that are diaphanous or are in some way stylistically removed from the rest of the piece, which is what I think is accomplished by these sleeves. For  brief moment you can almost see it as a halter-neck... 


Conclusion: It isn't a home run for me, but I also don't dislike it. I think it will be a dress that grows on me as time goes on. Kate definitely threw me for a loop

In other news, sometimes being a smarty pants catches up with you. In response to my flippant remark of yesterday that the pictures were not uploaded fast enough, James Whatling replied:


Check mate. Hard to argue with that... :) Details are such tiresome things. Armchair quarterbacking aside, the photographers are all doing a stellar job on this tour!

Lastly, Kate and William made a surprise appearance at the Dawn ANZAC service. Presumably, they are now back in bed for a few more hours before the mid-morning commemoration:



Later, gators...

26 comments:

  1. I love her watch but wish she didn't wear it with this dress to the evening's event. Takes away from the overall look for me. Other than that, I love everything about it!

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    1. I agree. I also thought the watch should have been left behind for this one.

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    2. A dressier, more delicate watch might've been okay, but that big one doesn't really go with a formal look. She looks lovely though, as always, even if I'm not crazy about the dress. I'm very fond of her in an updo! :)

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    3. She's only started wearing it since PG's birth, and it makes sense to me that she can glance at time, and think about what he is doing while she's busy.

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    4. I thought the same thing about the watch. And something else that I've wondered for a while, and I'd love your take Jane. Kate doesn't wear nail polish much (if ever). It's not just a 'too much trouble to keep up nails with a baby' thing because it was the same before George. Part of me loves it, because it seems like such a confident move. But it bothers me a bit, especially on more formal occasions like this. Bare nails combined with that casual watch, didn't fit the look tonight IMHO.

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    5. I thought the same thing about the watch. And something else that I've wondered for a while, and I'd love your take Jane. Kate doesn't wear nail polish much (if ever). It's not just a 'too much trouble to keep up nails with a baby' thing because it was the same before George. Part of me loves it, because it seems like such a confident move. But it bothers me a bit, especially on more formal occasions like this. Bare nails combined with that casual watch, didn't fit the look tonight IMHO.

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    6. Hey Tina! If you see hq photos of Kate's nails close up they are always immaculately done. She has them carefully cared for and often polished. She just goes for either clear or sometimes the most delicate of pinks. Usually, though, she opts for natural. They aren't calling attention to themselves, but she gives careful attention to her nails. Perfectly buffed and all. I don't think she could wear much other than a gloss or something quite delicate.

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  2. I really didn't like the watch or the black accessories with this. I'm pretty tired of the same suede shoes in every color. I would have liked to see some really cute shoes and a pop of color that I think could have only accented the dress.

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  3. I couldn't quite understand the lace peplum--but Catherine looked beautiful---William didn't seem to be able to take his eyes off her.
    I also thought it was cream not white.and it has grown on me over the day.
    They turned up at the Dawn Service which was great.
    British Royals had reported the reception as "Black tie"---but there wasn't one in sight (not even the host) so a short dress was in order.
    It was not my favourite dress of the tour----there were so many lovely ones including yesterday's green. Don't think it matters who designs the clothes as long as they fit and that is difficult if the establishment is half a world away.

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  4. We were told from the very beginning - the planning stage even - that there were no formal dress events on this tour. So this was no surprise, and I can't understand people being disappointed.

    I'm still on the fence (painfully long time) on this dress. Might be here a tad longer. Just not sure.

    Overall look was elegant, dressy and she had made an effort to look different from the rest of the Auz tour in terms of makeup/hair etc. She looked lovely overall. William certainly thought so - quite a few pix where he just looked at her with a gleam in his eye.

    Great posts - thanks for all your thoughtful and thought provoking comments as well as the fashion updates.

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    1. Although we were told from the get-go it was unlikely, they did release the dress code not long before the event listing it as black-tie/cocktail. I was hoping for a surprise showing. :(
      I LOVED the pictures of William. Very cute.
      Thank you! So glad you read the blog.

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  5. I think she was in the black Temperly London coat she wore on last year's Remembrance Day.

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    1. For the ANZAC Dawn Service? Possibly! Hard to say at the moment, but it does have a high neck. :)

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  6. I agree with your comments about the dress. I have to say, I think her makeup is just gorgeous. So pretty. I love LOVE the smoky eyes on her.

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  7. Hi Jane I loved this on kate. I think she looks stunning in white and the details were beautiful. I also loved her up do. The watch needed to go though and maybe she needs new shoes? Not sure if black was appropriate. I get how you feel Jane because I have felt line that over the past three outfits she has worn but I'm finally happy about this one. What's going to happen after the tour? Anyone got any thoughts?
    I can't believe its almost over but it has been fun, fun fun checking in every day . Thank you for your hardware work Jane, really appreciate it:)

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  8. Hi Jane, I agree with you, while the dress and Kate are lovely they are just not what I was expecting. I was really hoping for a long gown and some great jewels, but this tour has been so unlike the other 2 in that respect. Like you I don't dislike the dress, just not thrilled about it and she should have left the watch behind. I did love seeing her hair up, she can really rock a chignon!

    My only big disappoint with the fashion on this tour was the lack of Australian or New Zealand designers, not even some jewelry by a local designer. Although the jewelry designers that Kate ordered a few pieces from were far from discreet so maybe that's why she didn't wear any of their pieces.

    Before the tour several blog sites were speculating on the Aussie/NZ designers Kate could choose from and there were a number that would have fit Kate great. This "snub" makes me feel a little bad for the host country designers, since designers that Kate wears receive a real boost to their lines. With these two countries seriously considering dropping the British monarch as their head of state, I feel that by not wearing any local designers Kate may have made a rare diplomatic fashion misstep.

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  9. I'm disappointed at the criticism of Catherine's fashion choice here. I think she looks lovely, very elegant and totally appropriate. This was a cocktail party, not a gala dinner. It would have been inappropriate to wear anything more formal. This was respectful, elegant and stunning on her. As for not wearing Australian designers, I read that she received several garments from Australian designers and returned them. Not everything looks fabulous on everyone. Better to wear something that makes you feel wonderful than to wear something just for the sake of wearing it. I think she's done a marvelous job of choosing pieces that respect the economic realities of those she meets and choosing pieces that are new and that she feels comfortable in. In either case, I think she looks wonderful. As for re-wearing shoes and jewelry, etc., my goodness, how many pairs of shoes is a woman supposed to take when travelling? Three weeks is a long time to be changing into different shoes every day! The Canada tour was 7 days and 3 in LA. The Asia tour was 10 days! This was twice as long as those!!! They must both be exhausted.

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  10. This was a cocktail party, not a gala dinner. This dress was completely appropriate and she looked lovely in it. Elegant, sophisticated, and beautiful. I know most people are simply stating their opinions, but I wonder how anyone could think that any woman could bring enough pairs of shoes, jewelry and so on for a three week tour abroad. The Canadian tour was 7 days and 2 in LA. The Asia tour was 10 days I think. This tour is twice that! I think she's done a marvelous job of choosing outfits perfect for every occasion without rubbing it in by wearing brand new all the time. My respect for her has increased dramatically this tour. As for wearing Australian designers, I read that she asked for several designs to be sent to her and returned them. Not everything looks great on everybody. Far better to wear something that makes you feel wonderful than to wear something just for the sake of wearing it.

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  11. This dress was a "miss" for me. I think the sleeves and peplum look a bit like doily material tacked on as an afterthought. I imagine it worked better in person as many things do. Her hair and makeup are gorgeous as usual. Her hair has certainly been restored to its former glory after a bit of a lull after giving birth!

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  12. I did not like this dress. It is much too old and mature looking for the Duchess, I loved her hair, it looked more groomed and elegant, but her makeup was too heavy and too dark, very hard looking and aging, she does not need all the heaviness around her eyes.

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  13. I really like Kate in white but this dress did nothing for me. I absolutely loved her hair though and her make up looked great. Does she still do her own makeup? I hope she does. William looks very handsome in blue :)

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  14. First of all I would like to thank you the enormous amount of work you did every day I know you love blogging as you have already told us but still. You were a wonderful guide during this whole trip. Personally I am exhausted even by just watching them, it is good we have a little break from them.

    The Duchess looked pretty tonight but not my fave look to be honest. She had a magnificient updo, at last nice jewellery although a brooch could do her right as well as in other occasions. But that ship is gone.

    I would like but I cant go past her soooooo heavy make up. It is suffocating even to look at her. She is so natural why putting on a whole eye liner? A couple of days ago I saw a video with Diana she used so much make up for her eyes but I thought maybe that time it was fashionable ( I was 17 back then only starting out and experiencing with make up). Looking back however I find it too much, and the duchess does the same:-(
    I know she adores her mother-in-law but I wish she could go back to her style afor I mean not just the eyeliner I know it runs in the Middleton family but the constant reminiscence of her by wearing the same colour or material or style.
    Instead of this maybe it would have been nice to see NZ and an Australian designer but not all hope lost maybe tomorrow.

    I know you will write a nice post on the summary of this tour but I can say now that my fave is still the 1st Canadian one. Thank you for reading! A.

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    1. Dear A.,

      I agree with on the use of eyeliner by the Middleton women. I've seen pictures of Kate and Pippa, back when K & W were dating, and they used a lot less eye makeup and I thought they were simply beautiful. IMO the black eyeliner look is so harsh and hard looking, especially on the bottom lid it's just too much.

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  15. Like you said, this dress isn't a big hit but I didn't hate it either. It has quite the 60s throwback feel to it. A little shorter and with Go-Go boots and this could be for the Mod crowd on Carnaby Street. I think the black accessories made the dress have an evening feel and so thought they were appropriate; as was the beautiful jewelry from Prince Charles. I think we all agree that the watch would have been better left behind on this one. What it's really time for, though, is for William to wear something other than a blue suit.

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  16. I think she looks so old compared to her face in the Malaysian gold & white gown. Pity she didn't see fit to wear something gorgeous and long !

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  17. Interested CanadianApril 25, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    This dress was a winner for me; the entire look from top to toe was a fit. Simply gorgeous. Well done Kate.

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