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Down Under Day 18: [Updated] Kate Wears Catherine Walker to Plant a Tree at the National Arboretum, Canberra/Parliament House/NPG

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

This is the last full day of the tour. William and Kate are due to begin their joinery home Friday on a 2pm flight, so this is the penultimate day. It is going to be a long, too. We have a 6pm (local) reception, so yeah, fuel up. I am drinking champagne. I suggest you find your beverage of choice--we are going to be here a while.  William and Kate arrived at the National Arboretum around 10:30am.  They were due to plant a tree, quelle surprise, and as Ms. Murphy of The Mirror pointed out good-humoredly, the tree was already essentially planted. Kate and William had but to toss a little more dirt in the hole. I say, thank goodness! No one likes a sweaty princess. 

Our own James Whatling of Splash (who I wish would, cough cough, upload his photos faster) shared this snap of the waiting spades, ready for the Duke and Duchess to toss some dirt around:

William and Kate arrived just a little past scheduled arrival, which is entirely prompt by royal standards, and much to everyone's interest, she was wearing a bright Catherine Walker. I think we are all thinking the same thing. If William thought THIS Erdem was bright...




Only heaven knows what the verdict on today is:



Thankfully, we all have better fashion credentials than His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge. We (the royal "we," bien sur, but I hope you join me) think it quite ravishing. We were just talking about necklines yesterday, so I note that Kate has had the below Catherine Walker altered to today's more demure crew neck, if I may call it that. The dress, the Evelyn, is described as:
The sharp and precisely cut shoulders of this grass green Venetian wool coatdress are softened by the sinuous neckline and full A line skirt with hand pick stitching.
Goodbye sinuous neckline...


[Update]  A very sharp-eyed FBTB reader has pointed out in the comments that Kate altered the dress to this bodice. So, it is a little 2+2 going on here. Kate does love the combos to create the ensemble with which she is comfortable.



Back to the order of the day. Kate and William signed a guest book:



Then planted a tree:







I love this photo. Kate is obviously charmed by these little ones, as is William. Just due to their gender differences, we don't get as many shots of William displaying his intent interest. I think this is very special in its sweet and unified message:





Let's talk about Catherine Walker, briefly. Shout out to my French friends, Catherine was born Catherine Marguerite Marie-Therese Baheux near Calais. Talk about old-school. Catherine Walker, as you no doubt are aware, was one of the late Princess of Wales' favorite labels. Catherine Walker is a name, pardon me for stating this boldly, because of Diana. Kate has never worn Catherine Walker--to my knowledge--outside of a tour. It is like she calls on her for added gravitas. She wore Catherine Walker twice in Canada. She chose CW's artsy grey sheath when planting a tree near another tree that Diana planted many years before. Significance? I think so:



And wore a classic red to bid farewell to Canada on her last day.



Catherine Walker created some of Diana's most iconic dresses, and some of my favorite. It is hard to choose the best Diana dress and were I pushed against a wall I would probably vote for the black Jacques Azagury, but this pearl Catherine Walker remains one of my absolute favorites. 


The blue dress Diana wore to Cannes that many felt was modeled after Grace Kelly's To Catch a Thief gown was also Catherine Walker:





And lastly, the scoop-neck blue frock Diana wore in later life, and pictured here with the designer herself:



I could go on and on. Catherine Walker was Kate's Issa, McQueen, or Jenny Packham. She dressed Diana on more occasions than can be counted, and most went down in fashion history. People shy away from Diana and any reference to her and Kate, but I don't think we should be afraid to confront certain connections. Kate is retreating to a label that was beloved of her late mother-in-law. That doesn't need to be creepy or weird, it just needs to be acknowledged. Who better to dress the future Queen of England than the label that so perfectly accoutered the Princess of Wales? Carole gave a nod to the iconic royal label when she wore Catherine Walker on the most important day of her daughter's life, the day she became a royal, and look how that turned out. Amaaazing:



Kate wore Catherine Walker on this tour, indeed who can forget it, when she touched down in Wellington...



...and now today. You will notice very similar construction between the Canada red, the Wellington red, and today's green coat. I am loving it. Kate is an a-line girl and this suits her so, so well. I am not in love with the belt, though. There is a general rule about most dresses you buy that come with belts: throw the belt away and substitute a more expensive belt. While I doubt any element of this dress was cheap, the belt looks cheap...even if it isn't. I wish she had added something else with contrast. That would have made it perfect. It is stunning, still. The thickness of the belt is fabulous, and although I do like a plunge, even the tight neck has a very chic element.



The royal couple then visited Pod Playground. Again, Kate is entirely in her element with these children. She is so good with them, because it is obvious that she really cares. She truly loves children. 



Yes, it is Mr. Security. You can rest easy, because he is on the job. I am not mocking him. This guy is real pro:

Megan Doherty Twitter Feed

The couple are due at Parliament House for a reception with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Stay tuned!!!

William and Kate arrived at Parliament House and were ushered in with the blare of trumpets. I am not joking, it was like a preview of my Royal Wedding party next week. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a strong monarchist, was there to greet the two and after they all settled onto the stage and the National Anthem had played, he kicked off the remarks.



I have included his full speech, because I thought it both humorous and interesting as he discussed past members of the Royal Family who have been to Australia. The continuity of the British Monarchy is a very special and powerful thing:




After Prime Minister Abbott, the leader of the opposition Bill Shorten also made brief remarks of welcome. Again, I was very impressed by his gracious comments, although he is a man of known republican sympathies. Finally, William took the podium and made his reply in which he thanked Australia for the warm welcome and mentioned that George was loving his cuddly wombat as he chewed on it. That wombat is massive. George is a large baby, I bet he doesn't often encounter such an impressive stuffed animal, which could explain why he tossed that poor Bilby aside. He was thinking of his giant wombat at home...






The Duke and Duchess stayed on for a reception with 600 others at Parliament House. Kate told someone she was sweltering in that coat. I could have told her that, but you have to suffer for beauty. This dress is getting the strongest negative reaction in the comments of any dress this tour. I really believe that a contrasting belt would have transformed it. The chances we will get a recycle are fairly high, so Kate has a chance to redeem it, perhaps? Perhaps not... You all seem pretty adamant. 

Ready for this? Weird comment of the night award easily goes to William for this little gem:


Check the punch at that reception...it must have been spiked...

The two were then off to the National Portrait Gallery. This was undoubtedly a highlight for Kate, who very actively supports the National Portrait Gallery in London. This darling little 3-year old was waiting for Kate to present her with some posies.










The day is not over. William and Kate have returned to Government House, probably to pack and rest up for tomorrow's travels, before they attend a reception this evening hosted by the Governor-General. I am really crossing my fingers for floor length. The dress code is blacktie/cocktail. It is their last night! Hoping to be dazzled...





41 comments:

  1. Hi Jane! So sorry but I have to disagree with you about today's dress/coat, this is by far my least favorite tour outfit, followed closely by the other green coat. My biggest complaint is the neckline, it looks too tight and binding. I feel like I'm choking just seeing Kate wearing it. Also the bit of bunching at the neck just bothers me, again it seems too tight. After yesterday's gorgeous McQueen this outfit is a letdown, sorry. All this being said, her interaction with the children is adorable and really that's what it's all about.

    But, on the plus side Mr. Security is looking particularly intense today! If he doesn't watch out his face will freeze like that. lol

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    1. Don't feel bad. I also felt stifled by the neckline, but I thought she pulled it off. You are allowed to think otherwise. It isn't my favorite, and I personally would not opt for this neckline. Yesterday was certainly superior.
      Mr. Security was all smiles at the rugby game. I imagine he is quite a softy in private. :)

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  2. I do not like this dress. Just somehow does not look right. I think sometimes when they alter them too much they remove the essence of the design and this is one of them. Big no and ewwww from me.

    Very sad day for Camilla. Im sure they are both thinking of her and her family.

    Kiwi Nic

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    1. I am not in love with it. I don't think it is a miss, though. I honestly believe that had she opted for a belt that provided contrast it would have made a world of difference.

      Mr. Shand's death is SHOCKING. I am praying for the whole family.

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  3. Surprisngly Kate did not change her outfit for the afternoon visit to Parliament House in Canberra, but William changed his tie! He was wearing a lovely silver one this morning and is now wearing yet another maroon one. Hope Kate wears something glamorous at this evenings reception.
    Jayne from Australia

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  4. Kate's green coat dress seems much closer to the Catherine Walker "Lara coat", raglan sleeves, raised neckline, princess seaming, zipper closure. In Kate's version the skirt pieces have been flared out creating a full skirt instead of a straight one. And an added belt, of course. http://www.catherinewalker.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Lara2.jpg

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    1. You are a genius. And dead right. It is a combo. Love it, thanks for drawing my attention to this!!

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  5. Why the colour green today? It is the other colour of the Australian Flag, she arrived wearing yellow and leaves in green. That's what I think - very clever really. Linda

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  6. Sorry, not the colours of the Australian Flag, but the colours of Australia. Linda

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  7. Usually I like her outfits right away, and then when I read other's critiques I start nitpicking. The same thing happened for me here. A lower neckline and a contrasting belt would've looked better, but she really can pull anything off. It's amazing!

    Jane, I posted this question in the comments section last time, but didn't see an answer (I commented really late in the game): Why would the paps have taken the pics of Will & Kate, and Kate and George on the grounds of Government House and not have taken any of George previously in the week, if they'd had the chance? It makes me wonder if Will and Kate went where they did on purpose, knowing there was a good view of them from that location, and that the nanny's habit during the stay was to go to a more hidden/secure location outside to walk George. What do you think? I saw you post that your opinion was they just didn't care if pics were taken, probably. But had you thought of why they hadn't taken pics of George and Maria?

    My heart & prayers also go out to them and the whole family for the unexpected loss of Mr. Shand.

    Victoria, Oregon

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  8. I popped over to the Catherine Walker website, and I could see Kate in the "Madeline Evening Dress." Stunning!

    Victoria, Oregon

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  9. I think it's quite nice. It's much more beautiful than the Erdem coat in my opinion. I love her A-line dresses!! The colour is beautiful and the stitching works very well. I like the belt, although I have to admit that you're right, Jane. It looks a little bit cheap. I'm not sure about wearing this dress with a belt in a different colour. I like the green to it. Well, maybe I have to think about that ;-)

    Thank you, Jane, for this great post. I love your kind of writing. You're so fast in up-dating, I sometimes hang behind ;-) Chapeau!

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    1. I'm sorry. I have been distracted and forgot the main thing :-/
      The neckline downgrades this dress. With a nice collar I probably would have loved it.
      I understand that most of you don't like it. It's a little bit disharmonious.
      Let's hope for a wow this evening.

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  10. Oh dear I'm not in love with this also. I quite like the neckline but I think it's a bit strange sue would choose to wear the same bold coulour twice on the tour, I know the events were in different countries but still seems a bit weird. Hoping for a showstopper before the tour is out! Jane what do you think will happen after the tour? :)

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  11. Hi Jane! This is not my fave look, I prefer the original with the sinious neckline that should have been a fashion hit. This is the 2nd green coat I am a bit tired of, even I am tired of coatdresses. I wonder whether she recycles sth for the evening. I bet she will.Good to read you always!A.

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  12. Anna1985, AustriaApril 24, 2014 at 1:23 AM

    Why didn't she have a clutch today?

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  13. Theresa, from ParisApril 24, 2014 at 1:36 AM

    I'm afraid I am not a fan at all of this coat. The whole styling and the color don't work for me.
    Crossing my fingers for a great few last outfits.
    I also think it is a bit sad the Duchess didn't find some Australian or New Zealand designers she might like. That would have been a change - fashion wise :-)
    Brilliant work, as usual, Jane... Thanks for all the hard work :-)

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    1. I agree with you Theresa. Its such a huge boost for the designers of those countries (mine being NZ). I believe she does not wish to be known for her satorial choices in clothes but it is part of what comes with the job for female royals. I know that many here and in Oz are quite disappointed that she did not choose national designers. I don't believe that it was too hard to have found them. It carries more significance than just putting a fern on a shoulder.

      Kiwi Nic

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    2. Hi Theresa,

      I too was sad to see that Kate didn't wear many Australian or New Zealand designers, I don't think she wore any local designers not even for her jewelry. She is somewhat known for doing that on her tours, so I was really hoping but alas it was not to be.

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  14. I do not mind at all this coat, I certainly prefer this to the Erdem one; it was shapeless and made her look fat. I do not understand in any way why she continues to buy expensive bespoke clothes ​​very similar to each other and then she recycles high street dresses like the grey Hobbs. I think she has to follow sometimes Clarence House's instructions, and sometimes she can wear what she wants.

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    1. Please tell us when u found out I am curious too.A.

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  15. Interested CanadianApril 24, 2014 at 2:42 AM

    I like this outfit much better than the rather dull green Erdem, and better than the medium-muddy-blue McQueen coat,worn earlier in the tour. Maybe it boils down to clarity of colour; this Walker is a true grass green, nothing muddy/confused about it.

    All in all, I have been very pleasantly surprised by Kate's tour wardrobe; it cannot have been easy to put together a three-week ensemble with, I suspect, little or no help. I sometimes tend to forget just how godawful both Diana and Camilla's wardrobes were in their early years, not to mention Fergie.

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  16. Is Kate wearing emarald earings with diamonds? I wonder if they are not the a part of The Cambridge emeralds?? Would be quite nice if the Queen has allowed her to wear them.

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    1. She is. I rather think these belong outright to Kate. She has had them for several years at least, as she was first spotted wearing them in 2012. Hard to say with every piece of jewelry, and I can't say I am an expert on the royal collection, but... Maybe they were meant to stand in for the Cambridge emeralds? Frankly, I feel like Kate's seem too small.

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  17. I honestly like this and it has the added advantage of providing a queue of outfits for the annual shamrock ceremony!.
    Does anyone know if the Anzac Day ceremonies tomorrow mean a black outfit?

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  18. Theresa, from ParisApril 24, 2014 at 3:26 AM

    Why on earth didn't she take the coat off for the reception ??? She must of worn a dress underneath ?? Of course, she was "sweltering". That looks really odd. As if she couldn't wait to leave... A wrong move for once, in my opinion.
    She does have a habit of keeping her coat on inside when she visits hospices in winter. I do think it is a mistake, and worse at an official reception.

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    1. I really think she should take her coats off more often ore just open them so she doesn't die of heat. I get that wanting to wear a coat just as her outfit is easy but she can always pear it woth a siple dress, black dresses are easy to repeat under whatever new coat she wears.

      N

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    2. Don't think she could take it off---it only seems to open to just under the waist, so she would have to pull it over her head!

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    3. It's apparent she has a print dress underneath (perhaps the one we saw under the Erdem) so not sure why she couldn't slip into the loo and remove her coat.

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  19. Jane, you are doing such a stellar job by stating your opinion on her outfits and her behaviour! I follow a few blogs and am constantly checking twitter to be up-to-date with everything concerning the Cambridge's.
    Please continue to sometimes be critical!! :) Yesterday I had the time to flick a bit through your blog's archive and I really have to say that you and your writing and reporting skill have clearly evolved!! Great, great, great!

    I would love if you incorporated William sometimes in your witty blog (while he wears his 2 suits ;) ).

    Love from Bavaria :) Vroni

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    1. But, the typos remain, eh? ;)

      Thanks, Vroni! I actually noticed that the other day, too, because I was going to pull something out. I guess you don't always feel your own change. :)

      Appreciate you popping by my place and hope you are back often!

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  20. I don't know why she wore a long sleeve coat.... Even though it's autumn here its still as hot as summer was! NZ is cooler than here so I understood all the coat choices. Can't wait to read your post on tonight's dress.. I thought it was very underwhelming!

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  21. I didn't like this coat :( The fabric looks kind of cheap (and I know it is not) and I don't like the thick green belt, or the choking neckline :S I think the original design looks better, but even then I don't like it much. I like green (I have been adding green items to my wardrobe) but I don't know about ALL GREEN as with the Erdem coat- The Erdem coat just wasn't at all flattering on her or fitting. Perhaps she has lost more weight since the time of purchase.

    I just find this look dated... and I am not really a big fan of coat dresses.

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  22. My opinion is her wardrobe was fab but all went down hill after Uluru, the light pink & today's bright green were too old for her age, very disappointed she didn't wear an Aus designer, she really has stuck with designers she knows, trusts and obviously feels comfortable in. I could only imagine how hard it must be co or donating all this plus having George on tour too! I hope they have a nice break after this tour, it must be totally exhausting!!

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  23. Suzanne in ColoradoApril 24, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    It has been fun watching the fashion, and the Duchess always looks elegant, whether or not I actually love the outfit or not. I totally agree with
    Becky, however! Why does the Duchess continue to get bespoke clothes that are so similar to each other? I understand that she has a particular style, but does one need two bright green coats? Maybe Maggie is right, and we will see these again at the shamrock ceremonies! Thrifty Kate, always thinking ahead! 😊

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  24. I love this! It is nice to see the Duchess in such a vivid color. I like the way she chooses so many different necklines.

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  25. I love this! It is nice to see the Duchess in such a vivid color. I like the way she chooses so many different necklines.

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  26. Agree with Ruth--Nice to see different necklines. The bright color of this dress is fun. Perfect for Easter week. I like the combination of the high simple neckline and seams. There is a structure and severity that contrasts with the fullness and fluidity of the skirt.

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  27. Hello! In the pictures the Dailymail posted of Kate bent down talking to the little girl outside the portrait gallery you can see the hem of her dress underneath. It's the same one she wore under her green Erdem coat in New Zealand!

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    1. Just went and looked. You are right, absolutely Suzannah's Budding Hearts Dress. Hopefully, we will see it somewhere on its own!

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