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Down Under Tour Day 4: Kate Wears Packham for State Reception at Government House

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I stayed up to see what Kate chose to wear on what will be one of the more formal events of this trip, but given how long it takes the pictures to come through, I went to bed. I am wittier on more sleep anyway... So here we are. This is still a post on Day 4--Thursday April 10th, earlier "today" the Duke and Duchess attended a wreath laying ceremony in Blenheim and in the afternoon the Omaka Aviation History Centre, post is here fully updated with photos and video.  The state reception held at Government House began at 6:30pm local time.



William had private one-on-one meetings with the Prime Minister as well as the leader of the opposition. It isn't entirely clear, but I am fairly certain this may have made them a tad late for the reception, which certainly didn't start until some time after the posted time.



Wow, I love Jenny Packham. Jenny P has produced some of my favorite evening gowns of all time. But, I am going to risk the wrath and speak the truth. I didn't love this. It has grown on me just in the time it took me to write the post, and getting closer views of the ribbon and the shape have made me like it more, but it didn't wow me off the bat and it isn't going to make the hall of fame here.  It isn't that I disliked it as much as I was disappointed. It looks like something you could go and pick up at your local department store for 150 bucks. I feel like I have tried this dress on in one form or another a million times. So, there isn't anything wrong with it per se, but there is something wrong because of circumstance. When Kate wears something to an event like this, I don't want to feel like I saw it on the sale rack last week. I want it to pop. I want to say, wow! Instead, I yawned and wondered how quickly I could fall asleep to maximize sleep hours before dawn.

Jenny Packham Facebook

Kate looks amazing. Kate can make almost anything look amazing. She is rail thin, this is a beautiful dress in many ways. I will say that the ribbon at the waist helps. This would be a perfect dress if I found it and wore it to a cocktail party, and Kate looks beautiful, but the dress is a little blah...for a princess on tour.

Jenny Packham Facebook

This dress is bespoke, but several possibilities were mentioned as the "template" including this silver, beaded, black Packham above. Now, this would have been very cool. I preferred all the originals more than this customized piece. I liked that she incorporated the fern--the symbol of New Zealand--onto the shoulder, but I just was not excited by this dress and expected much more both from Kate and from Jenny Packham.




Kate wasn't the only one to suffer from a case of under-performence. The two unveiled a portrait of the Queen that was decidedly underwhelming. I wasn't the only Daisy Downer on this one, though. Phil Dampier also didn't like it. I am with Phil on this one.


I will say we have seen worse:


Back to Kate, though. The Cambridges have been staying at Government House since they returned from their restful retreat at Wharekauhau. In his remarks this evening, William thanked his hosts and make humorous references to George:
"He's at his most vocal at 3am, as you may have noticed - I swear I heard him doing the haka this morning.
"He's a bonny lad and you'll be pleased to know that he's currently preparing for life as a prop forward!
"I cannot tell you how happy I am to be back here in God’s Own Country – as I have learned to call it – and this time with my wife and son."


You can see some video of royals joining the party:




I guess that is it from me. I was disappointed, but that has certainly happened before, and I know there will be plenty of you who really like this dress. So, I know some people will be excited. :) I will say--and this happens with a certain regularity--that although I started this post hating this dress I know actually like it. It isn't exciting and it isn't blinged out and it isn't the sparkling choices she has made for galas, but this isn't a gala. I think had she worn the kind of dress I wanted her to wear, it would have look silly. She chose a genuinely lovely dress that was appropriate for the dress code and that would fit in with the tone of the evening and the other guests. Ultimately, my disappointment rests more in my skewed expectations. So I just negated my entire post. I like it. Ugh, exhausting. :) Kate wins again.



I will be back later today with a wrap-up including more pictures and some video of the entire day. It is Friday in New Zealand and we have another full schedule of royal events! 


44 comments:

  1. Jane you are not alone I didn't love this either! I mean she looks beautiful as she always does but the dress wasnt wow and wasn't what I expected. However she did look lovely and the fern on the shoulder was very thoughtful. I actually think kate is very smart and is learning how to navigate the attention directed towards her. She must now everyone is obsessed with her and what she wears, so when she chooses an understated dress at an event we expect her to wear a showstopper, she is kind of saying this event is not about me , it's about unveiling a portrait of the queen who I am representing.
    But when she stepped of the plane she knew it would be all about her and that was her moment so she wore bright red and a hat to provide a 'wow' moment. I think kate knows exactly what she is doing and she knows herself and her role very well.

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    1. Great observation; I think you're right!

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    2. I think, too, that she chose something that was appropriate for that event. In the end, it was a simple and very lovely dress, but it wasn't WOW. Had she worn WOW, it would have looked a little gauche. Yep, she made the right call. :)

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  2. I also wanted to ask you, I think I have asked before but not sure if you replied. Do you think kate knows about all the blogs dedicated to her? And if so I wonder what her and the team think about them?

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    1. Hi Simmy, I'm betting that Kate knows all about these blogs but doesn't read them, that would be too weird. However, I think her staff looks them over and might even make some notes as to what is said. When you live your life in the public eye and especially as a royal, whose life is dedicated to the public, it would be wise to have at least a general sense of the mood/opinion of the public.

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    2. Hi lauri I thought that she might know but wasnt sure if it was a silly question! I agree with you I think her staff now and keep an eye on things maybe. But just wanted another opinion so thanks for commenting!:)

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    3. hey! Sorry, I remember you asked that. I read all the comments and enjoy everyone, but sometimes I get swept up and don't get back to them. So, yes, she absolutely knows about both the many blogs and particularly popular Kate blogs. I agree with Lauri that you need to keep a pulse on the public, so I imagine they peruse them occasionally.

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    4. Thanks for your reply. Imagine if she checked the blog everytime she does an engagement to see if we approved! I mean I know she probably doesn't but imagine if we were her style advisors and we didn't even know! Just an entertaining thought! Thanks Jane :)

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  3. I like it a lot actually. It's very Kate. I like the neck line and the bling. However, I would also have choosen something completey different and more with a wow factor. But I've stopped expecting things like that from her. Although she always dresses appropriately and elegantly, it's too plain for my taste a lot of the times. Instead I'm more surprised now when she does wear something exciting. P.S.: I like the blue coat a lot. Gorgeous colour!

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    1. I loved that color and it is certainly flattering on her! She hasn't worn that gentler shade as much, but when she does it is a big hit with me. I noticed it almost matched the color the Queen was wearing in the painting, too!

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  4. Dear Jane, great post as usual.. For this engagement I love Kate from head to toe: I like the dress, it's simple but very elegant, with a special reference to New Zeland by the embroidery on the shoulder.. very delicate..I also love the line and the colour; I think Kate is stunning in black.
    Everybody talks about the longer hem, but I think Kate is quite tall and she can wear with grace every length.

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    1. Thanks, becky! So happy you come and read! It certainly grew on me, as I mentioned. It is a lovely dress and was the right tone, for sure. She can wear any length! I guess the question stands as, is the Queen pushing her to change, and I tried to address that in a recent post. I definitely agree with you, though, she can pull most things off.

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    1. It didn't match what I had in my mind, but... Better luck to us next time!

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    2. The GG of NZ should have put on a bigger bash. :)

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  6. Haha, I laughed at this post. English composition teachers could use this piece as an example of 'stream of consciousness' writing. Happy to tell you that by the end you came to the correct conclusion... because, in fact, the dress is classic understated elegance, feminine and flattering, especially on Kate's slim figure, Get some sleep!

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  7. I like the style, the accents, but the color...anyone can wear a black dress. She wears navy so beautifully, maybe a claret, or a deep moss green would have been nice. I agree with simmy-she knows when she is supposed to be the star and when she isn't. Maybe she was looking towards the inevitable photos with the Queen's portraits, and didn't want to detract.

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    1. I do think Kate looks good in black, but another color might be a little more fun. It isn't my favorite color on her. I hadn't considered that until you mentioned it. Deep moss would be cool...

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  8. Hi Jane, I agree with you, while this dress doesn't have the wow factor I was hoping for, it is a perfectly lovely dress. I was hoping that Kate would wear a NZ designer, as she hasn't yet. I did like the embroidery on the shoulder, what a lovely touch and some much needed bling to an otherwise quiet dress. While I thought the hem length was fine, I can see where it will add fuel to the fire for the conspiracy theory. It will be interesting to see if her hem lines go up at all on this tour or stays below the knee.

    I am really looking forward to tomorrow's events as it will be a chance for Kate to dress more casually while on the boats. I am thinking that tomorrow will consist of several wardrobe changes, always my favorite!

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    1. I am really stoked for all these events, especially the boats!
      I, too, am surprised that she hasn't worn an NZ designer yet, but we actually haven't had that many outfits yet. We'll see... :)

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  9. I agree with Peggy and Simmy. I think she intentionally chooses understated dress at times depending on the circumstance. I also like the longer dresses - it gives the dress an elegant flare.

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    1. That longer look is more universally flattering, yes, although obviously Kate can wear the shorter, too. Was that length considered tea-length? That's a pretty classic length for a cocktail party that has a certain formality.

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  10. I expected more glitz too, maybe in Sydney, I have just realised the fact she has not worn a piece from NZ designers, she did nice gestures but nth particular. Great post, have some sleep!A.

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    1. Yeah, I am wondering when we will see an NZ label, too. Maybe today?

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  11. Love it. She upped the elegance game again, but in something so simple. We all have LBDs in our closet but I'd bet none of us have ever looked that great in any one of them. And there was plenty of bling -diamond earrings, diamond bracelet, "diamonds" on the dress -and we know, one can never have enough of those!

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    1. Diamonds are a girl's best friend. :) I agree, at the end of the day, I agree. Sophisticated!

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  12. I was decidedly underwhelmed by the cut of the dress vs. the dress itself. In my opinion, if the dress would have been the same fit and length as the Peach Lace McQueen Kate wore to the Diamond Jubilee celebration then it would have been a different story. Even with the wonderful detailing on the left shoulder, the dress was still very dull and I do think that has more to do with the cut of the dress vs. Kate. I didn't even find it understated. Just because Kate is slim and pretty doesn't mean a dress automatically works on her for the lone reason of it being on her. Packham kills it in the dramatic evening gown wear, but I have yet to see a day dress (especially the bespoke pieces that Kate has worn) that have made an impact on me other than 'blah'. This dress could have been more fitted and still maintained the understated look Kate appears to be going for here.

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    1. Hmm, I am imagining it fitted. It certainly would have upped the formal feeling! I think I would like it that way! The fitted blinged version I posted as an alternate was, I admit, over the top for last night's event. Still...

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    2. But that fit in the alternate - maybe a little less va va voom and more subdued for this event - with the gorgeous detailing of the dress she did wear on both shoulders with her hair in an elegant updo would have really hit it out of the park for me. Of course, it is completely possible that I am projecting what I want and what I would wear if I were in her shoes. :)

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  13. Wow Jane, how much sleep did you get? Chapeau!! I really appreciate your endurance... I can hardly find time to read your post and all the comments :-(. Writing takes much more time! I admire you for your work (I can't write this often enough ;-) )

    The dress was no "Wow" for me either, but it was ok. Nothing wrong with it.

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    1. Haha, not enough! I am so happy that people read the blog and enjoy it! It would make it considerably less fun without everyone. :)

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    2. I hope your haha isn't meant ironically. To make it clear, I wanted to express that I could write that sentence in every comment. It's incredible you work so hard and that GREAT!
      It's difficult writing in a foreign language :-/

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    3. No, no, not at all! Well...I am not getting as much sleep as I would like, but that is how tours go and I just love the excitement and activity! Having you all read and comment is the best part of blogging! Makes it feel like the time is worth it. :) I am working on a second language and I know how hard speaking let alone writing is! I am very impressed with your command of English! Thank you for making the effort to post here! xoxo, Jane

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    4. Thank you, Jane. I do my very best ;-)
      Your writing is really worth it!!!. We all appreciate it! Everyone compliments you on your great job - rightly!

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  14. I really liked the look, but wish she would have worn her hair up. It looks like she had to constantly be aware of not covering the shoulder detail with her hair. I know she's got gorgeous hair, and loves to wear it down, but she really stuns when she wears it up. This would have been a perfect opportunity to do so.

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    1. Actually, this is a great point. Had she put her hair in a dramatic undo, she would have killed it. This look would have been perfection! It's the hair. An updo would have been a game changer. Darn. :(

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  15. The Lucien Freud portrait of the Queen is wonderful, he was a great painter who was brave and original.

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    1. Well, you are absolutely entitled to that opinion as protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and I will defend your ability to exercise that right. Nevertheless, I still think it is dreadful. I hope we can still be friends. :)

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    2. :)) of course!

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  16. I remember when British royal women wore black to funerals. I love the embroidery on this dress, but the literal reference to the All Blacks was boring

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    1. Wait, I am confused. What is this literal reference?

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    2. I think the reference was more to the Silver Fern of NZ which is always depicted with a black background (hence the underwhelming colour of the dress) not a reference to the All Blacks rugby team :)

      I was a little disappointed with the dress myself. It's a nice acknowledgement to NZ and ties in with their national symbol but I think if she had worn her hair in an updo it would have had the wow factor that we were all anticipating.

      Kind regards,

      Nerida

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    3. Oooh, I don't follow rugby, but I appreciate you telling me about this. :) I just keep thinking about what this would have been with an updo. Just amazing. Oh, well! :) She is wearing an updo today, though, and I am expecting great things!

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