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Lookback: ARK Black-Tie Gala in 1st Jenny P

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

We are doing another look-back! Don't worry, I am not going to re-write every single event while we sit about waiting for Kate the Great to come out of seclusion. But, since we do have time right now, I am enjoying wandering down Memory Lane and looking at some of Kate's more pivotal fashion moments. The Ark Gala on June 9, 2011 was a big deal because it was Kate's first official public engagement as a Princess, and by luck or design, it was a black-tie event. No one really knew what to expect, as Kate stepped out of the sleek Jaguar that June evening. I don't think anyone predicted what she debuted, but certainly she took everyone's breath away.


The dress seemed a stark departure from her black-tie preferences of the past. Obviously, Kate wanted something that would really sparkle for her first, big event, and she opted for a Jenny Packham, decorated with blush and pink sequins that shimmered as she moved. 


This was a far busier dress than any gown we had seen on Kate up to that point, and as such it felt very daring and unusual. On reflection, though, the piece maintained a streamlined silhouette, her preference, and added a princess's pizazz with the detailed embellishments. 


Kate debuted shoes from a a longtime favorite, and a brand that would soon become almost synonymous with her name, L.K. Bennett. She carried a Prada clutch and wore Links of London earrings. Her glossy hair had a professional blowout finished with the bouncy curls that were to become a signature of her style, solidified by her upcoming tour of Canada. 



My analysis of this dress is markedly different today than it was at the time. In some sense, I was still trying to get used to this new Princess Kate, (I think the look on her face as she stepped out of the car said she was getting used to it all, too:)) but in reality, this was not a dress entirely foreign to Kate's style. 



It was a big moment in her sartorial evolution, as she debuted her first dress from a designer who has become a queen in her closet, and because Kate has continued to concoct ensembles that are both  bold, but still unfussy. The increased exposure to the public, thanks to her royal role, has allowed Kate to show us more of her style and give us greater insight to her personality. 



I thought at the time that in this picture the pair really looked like the glamorous stars they had (and have) become. They weren't Wills and Kate Middleton that night. Dressed to perfection, posing for the bank of clicking photographers, they were every inch a Duke and Duchess. 


It has been a wonderful four years of fashion and I look forward to many more!

35 comments:

  1. Thanks Jane for re-covering this night. This is one of my all-time favorite of her gowns -- so unlike any of her others, and the shoes (to die for)! I would love to see her wearing this dress again sometime, but she'll probably have to have it taken out because I don't think we will see her this super skinny (post wedding) again.

    And feel free to re-cover other events -- it helps with the withdrawals!

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    1. This is one of my all time favorites too Lynn. Just a breathtakingly pretty gown paired with to die for shoes. I would be thrilled if she wore it again.

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  2. To this day, this is one of my favorite gowns. The wow-factor is undeniable, yet the color is "soft", summery and worked so well with Kate's hair and complexion.

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  3. Sonja from BavariaJune 9, 2015 at 4:07 PM

    This look was absolutely picture perfect and I loved every detail :)
    They looked like the glamorous and modern couple, the duke and duchess of cambridge, that they are/have become. Kate was still a very fresh and new princess, but with this look, she enchanted the whole world (or royal fans all over the World ;D) and sit was clear that she is a fashion icon.

    It was a great choice of kate's to try out jenny packham - she has really become kate's go-to girl (the dresses kate wore to present baby Georg and baby charlotte were great - I'm still curious if there was a pink version of the polka dot dress when george was born...)

    It's so excited to relive the glamour and excitment of that night - thank you jane!

    Can't wait for Trooping the colour - hopefully with kate and George ^^ I keep my fingers crossed!

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  4. Thanks for the look back Jane. When you do one of these, I always read your post and then go back and read the original post. I see your confusion in the original post. What’s happened to Kate? I like this, I think, but it’s different, has she changed that much? But things had changed. Her marriage to William took care of that in a very decisive way. Her look that night for ARK (in hindsight now) said very clearly – this is a whole new ballgame and I’m up to the challenge, but I haven’t really changed who I am – the dress is more glamorous, but the essence of simplicity stays the same. The confidence is what has always struck me. Kate’s confidence was evident on her wedding day (in spades) and every day since. Michael and Carol Middleton are largely responsible for that. In the engagement interview Kate said that the prospect of marrying into the BRF was daunting, but she would do her best and work hard to learn and to make a difference. I think she is fulfilling that promise. From the way she steps up her star power when representing Her Majesty the Queen to her empathy and passion for her patronages. And, of course, the raising of a future King and a Princess. HRH the Duchess of Cambridge is still Kate and very much growing into that very big title that was conferred on her on April 29, 2011. You go Girl!

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    1. Jane in Canada..what a lovely way to describe Kate's adjustment to her role in the royal family! You hit the nail on the head:) Agree 100%!

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  5. Thanks for showing this dress again. It was not one of my favorites, but seeing the details in the close-ups makes me like it much more. Please show more re-covers, like the lady said above it helps with the withdrawal ;-)

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  6. I think anytime Kate wears something a little different than what she usually wears, we have to get over our "!?!" reaction before we come to love the outfit. I remember I wasn't much on this dress when I first saw it but now I think it's a great look (aside from the fact she was too skinny). And you're right, they certainly brought glamour to the next level!!

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  7. I loved this look then and I still do. Thought she looked amazing in it and the colour suited her perfectly. Shes so tiny. I too like re-covering old looks as they are elegant and classic. It also helps to fill in the time till when she starts back at her engagements.

    KiwiNic

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  8. I always loved that dress, but what I remembered most about that evening was William's concern for her--he seemed more nervous than Catherine.

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  9. From your blog, which I love . " The Ark Gala on June 9, 2011 was a big deal because it was Kate's first official public engagement as a Princess, and by luck or design, it was a black-tie event." In truth, Kate and William appeared as Duke and Duchess in Canada prior to this engagement. They were here for some ? 9 - 10 days , touring Canada, as we are part of the Commonwealth. Thanks! Deborah in Canada

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    1. Hi Deborah: thank you! Very glad you enjoy the blog! Don't worry, though, I have not forgotten Canada. :) The ARK Gala was notably W&K's first official public engagement. They had a number of outings throughout June, including another official engagement before they left for the tour of Canada on June 30th. The majority of that tour was actually in July of 2011. I too, often feel like the very first thing they did was tour Canada, but there was a full month of activity after their honeymoon and before the tour. Probably good for Kate to get her feet and all.

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  10. I very much liked this dress, when it made its only appearance to date. Looking at it now, I can see--check the thickness of the material used in the dress in the fourth pic from the top--that it may have been, in part, chosen to camouflage how thin she was.

    However, I preferred the McQueen gown she wore in California, about a month later--the lilac chiffon?--. The latter was far more sophisticated, IMO, and hid her thin figure equally well.

    JC

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  11. Looking back on this, what I find most striking about this ensemble is the jewellery or lack thereof: the earrings are cute but I can't imagine Kate today wearing a pretty day-time pair of earrings to a black tie event like this (which isn't a criticism of her choice of the Links earrings, just an observation on how her accessioning has evolved).

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    1. PS Jane, do we know if Kate's going to be at the Trooping of the Colour?

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  12. Such a show stopping look! Love her glossy hair with highlights here. It works so well with the sparkle of the dress.

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  13. I often find her jewelry choices odd. Never quite sure why she wears rather inexpensive "off the rack" so to speak :) jewelry with very expensive clothes given that she has some gorgeous "real" i.e. 14/18kt gold or platinum and real diamonds/other gems jewelry in her closet that would work with any outfit. I am not referring to Royal jewels but just her own real stuff that she does wear on occasion.Ali

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  14. I love these look backs, like you say, it's fun to look at them with fresh eyes. Jane, will you include links to the original post detailing what she wore/ did? It's fun to look at the whole picture!

    The Duchess is a beautiful woman who has her priorities straight, in a world that is desperate to see her she has chosen to take care of her family. I admire her for that, even if I do wish we saw more of her!!!

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  15. I hope this isn't out of place in a fashion post. :) Royal wedding gowns over the years....

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3116688/The-evolution-royal-wedding-dress-Grace-Kelly-s-pale-pink-taffeta-frock-Queen-s-silk-pearls-Kate-s-lace-Alexander-McQueen-loveliest-gowns-1923-remembered.html

    I *loved* Claire Lademacher's Elie Saab wedding gown.

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  16. Grace Kelly's gown still does it for me !

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    1. It's in my top three, Faith. :) Very timeless.

      And I was amazed at just how many of the gowns had a "stiff" neckline/collar effect.

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    2. What else is in your top three royalfan? I liked Claire L's dress too but more from afar. The beadwork is very heavy looking up close and was a disappointment.

      Yes, the prominent collars and necklines seem to have been favored. Not much leeway for royal wedding dress design with the modesty issues and all that.

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    3. My top three of the gowns featured...Claire L's, Princess Grace's, and Kate's. And I'm really not a lace gal, but the gowns looked stunning and suited the brides perfectly. Princess Marie's would come in after that (I love the neckline) and, although I am not exactly a fan, I thought Camilla looked the best she has ever looked. The color and cut was perfect on her.

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    4. All beautiful gowns! I've always liked Claire of Belgium's wedding dress. Its simple but super elegant, and off the shoulder!! Her veil is one of the most beautiful Ive seen. I also really liked Matte-Marit's gown because it was unlike anyone else's. The professional photographs taken prior to the wedding showed how diaphonous the skirt was, and the veil went on forever.

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    5. I love wedding gowns. Can you tell ?:-)

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    6. Sorry- Mette-Marit. Auto correct did not want an e in there.

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  17. Jeanne, VancouverJune 10, 2015 at 8:51 PM

    This blush pink dress is one of my all time favoirites - Catherine looks like a goddess! I actually love the way she mixes up her jewelery - Anonymous 11:10 - Diana used to do the same thing - wear inexpensive costume jewelery with high end outfits & I find it so modern & fresh.

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  18. Wow i always thought Kate did not change much in weight since having announced the engagement. But clearly she was extremely slim here. Still stunning!!! Hope to see that dress again!

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    1. Happy that someone pointed that out. You already had a great blog post about this, Jane, but it still is a mystery to me why she lost the weight in the first place. I really do hope it was not because she felt like she needed to look better(!) in her wedding gown.
      None the less a beautiful dress, wonderful colour, great first appearence for Kate.
      Hope we'll see the family again soon.
      Alice

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  19. I love looking back the fashion and the not so throwback pictures of duchess I have a question to your blog cover prince carl phillp wedding

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  20. I happen to be someone who looses weight when under stress or very busy. I have never gained weight till I went through menopause, Catherine may be the same. I was happy but just busy or stressed but still happy, and just did not eat much. Please be careful about reading too much into weight, sometimes the changes in weight of a person really do not mean anything:):) ali

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  21. I loved this dress then and I still love it. Definitely in my top five! Thanks for revisiting this one - she was stunning and every inch the princess in this choice. Jenny Packham is always wonderful on her and those shoes...sigh. I'm not always a fan of her jewelry choices but, not because they are comparatively inexpensive pieces but because sometimes she'll choose something that looks a little chunky for the delicacy of the outfit. It's rare though because she does accessorize beautifully!

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  22. If you haven't looked. George made his debut today at Trooping events. Dressed in same outfit that WillI am wore for his first debut. Great photos inside of Buckingham as he watched the events. What a jolly child he is... great shots at Hello magazine.
    Kate looked great! Really lovely ☺❤
    ~Nina

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    1. I used the word 'great' 3 times. What a bore I am LOL .... lovely shots....she looked amazingly beautiful.. George is a cutie patooty... William looked dashing... lol
      Nina

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    2. I used the word 'great' 3 times. What a bore I am LOL .... lovely shots....she looked amazingly beautiful.. George is a cutie patooty... William looked dashing... lol
      Nina

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