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What Will Kate Wear to the State Banquet: McQueen

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Just over the past weekend, we discovered that Kate will be attending the State Banquet this October, when the president of China visits Britain in October. We are still waiting to hear the exact date, but while we wait I think everyone's thoughts have turned to, what will Kate wear? That's a hard question to answer beyond the obvious: a floor length evening gown. It is fun, however, to speculate on who Kate will wear and with that in mind, I am undertaking a series of posts examining the labels that are the most likely contenders.

Glitz & Glamour: A State Banquet at Buckingham Palace


Let's start with the strongest possibility: Alexander McQueen (Sarah Burton). We think of Jenny Packham for evening wear, and although we will discuss Packham in the next post, Kate has actually worn more McQueen, if we count the dresses rather than the appearances. Let's review all six of the McQueen gowns in chronological order. I have linked each appearance to its corresponding ensemble page on my wardrobe website Kate's Clothes, and I have linked directly to the individual item, as well. You can follow either of the links for each ensemble to learn more about the event or about the dress. 

The first gown was, of course, the ball gown the brand new princess donned for her wedding reception. This dress often gets lost in the shuffle or overshadowed by the star of the show earlier in the day, but it was a separate piece all its own:



The pressure to look her very best was certainly high when Kate visited (arguably) the capital of glamour, Hollywood.  Tom Ford and a host of American designers had been named as possible options for Kate to choose for her appearance at the BAFTA "Brits to Watch" evening, but the Duchess flew the British flag in a simple, but gorgeous lilac evening gown from Alexander McQueen. I think we can safely say, she stunned the stars.



In December of 2011, she wore her third McQueen gown as she attended the Millies with William and Harry. The dress was a customized, black velvet which strongly echoed Princess Diana's similar gown early in her own royal life. Kate paired the gown with a sparkling necklace and matching bracelet from Mouawad:



In 2012, while touring South East Asia, Kate and William were the guests of honor at a State Banquet. Kate did not wear a tiara, but she did debut a bespoke gown from McQueen. This one was decorated in golden hibiscus flowers--the official flower of Malaysia. 



Leaving her sickbed briefly, Kate presented at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in the late fall of 2012. She once again wore McQueen, this time a floor length dress in deep, forest green with a slit up the front. Again, this dress gets a little lost in the shuffle, but had Kate been feeling better, she would have made a more thorough appearance and this would have had better exposure. 



The final McQueen evening gown that Kate has worn publicly was to the Diplomats' Reception at Buckingham Palace in 2013. (NB: this was not a State Banquet, as has been suggested in some comments.) We only caught a glimpse, but the dress featured lots of lace. This also happened to be the only time other than on her wedding day that Kate has worn a tiara. (Again, reflecting some comments from earlier posts, since the Diplomats' Reception was a different kind of event, we didn't get inside pictures. We will get pictures from the upcoming State Banquet.)


I think it is almost out of the question that Kate would recycle. Her first State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, and presumably in a tiara, seems to demand a brand new, and likely bespoke dress. McQueen would be a very good guess, but it would not be fair to say the only possibility. Join me next time as we look at other labels who have a chance at dressing Kate for the State Banquet!

P.S. the comment section has gotten a bit volatile. I will address this in a post later this week. For the moment, please abide (or continue to abide) by the comment guidelines. :) 

52 comments:

  1. I would love to see the wedding reception gown without the bolero, was it strapless or what type of back did it have?

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    1. Strapless is my guess. Based on how the dress looks in the photo, and that strapless dresses were actually very popular in 2011 when she got married (and 2010 when she settled on designs). While this was definitely a party dress (no train, less volume), I personally think this gives us some insight into what Kate would have worn if she wasn't marrying a prince (e.g. long sleeves, higher neckline, etc.).

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    2. McQueen is a very viable option; however, can I be respectfully honest? I love Kate's "working" McQueen wardrobe, and wedding dresses...not as much of a fan of the formalwear. I loved the wedding reception dress, but those the seams were odd when they made her chest look like it had sharp, pointy nipples :-\ Yep, I said it.

      I loved the black lace dress - simple, yet stunning, and paired with beautiful, Princess-worthy jewels.

      Otherwise, I'd have to say I prefer Packman's gowns that Kate has worn, so maybe that's what I'm voting for.

      When you say we'll get photos, will it just be another car photo? Or will better photos be released?

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    3. To 7:56: I had the same thought. Kate's chest area looked like she was wearing one of Madonna's bras.

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    4. Anon 8:56 glad I'm not the only one who thought that, hehe.

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    5. Lol. They were kind of front amd center :-)

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    6. I thought her wedding dress had that pointy issue as well. A little bit too Barbarella. Still think she looked beautiful though!

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  2. If I were to bet, I'd put my money on McQueen. What are the chances of Kate wearing something by a Chinese designer, though?

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    1. I don't know what the chances of a Chinese designer might be but it may not be that far fetched. I would like to see her do it myself.

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    2. Would it be the Queen's prerogative to honor her guests that way? She has been known to do so.
      Catherine would be stunning in a red and gold silk high collared sheath in the Chinese style.mk

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    3. I think she would be more likely to wear a Chinese designer if she was on tour in China. At Buckingham Palace, she will most likely fly the flag for British fashion. My guess is McQueen. At least I hope so as I don't know why but I am not a fan of the Jenny Packham gowns she has worn.

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  3. As much as I really would like to see a new gown, I would love to see the 2012 South East Asia one again. Although not sure how it would go with a tiara. Do they have any yellow gold tiara's?

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  4. How fun-I love the hibiscus, lavender and black gowns.

    If you read up on the Queen's dresses for these occasions, they are typically made from heavier fabrics that can hold up under the strain of additional weight of pins, sashes, orders, etc. So, that's one thing against these lovely, light, floating materials. Also, you don't usually wear strapless gowns to these dinners if you look at all the previous events. So, I think that's out.

    I do think we might see a similar neckline to the hibiscus gown to show off the jewels. At a minimum Kate will probably wear a tiara, earrings, necklace, brooch, and bracelet, and possibly the family order if it has been bestowed by the Queen. That's a lot of bling, so you typically want a dress color and style that will accentuate and not compete.

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  5. Sonja from BavariaAugust 22, 2015 at 11:12 AM

    I think it's almost sure that Kate will wear McQueen, definitely her go-to-brand for these important events. The golden and white dress from South East Asia and the strapeless black velvet gown were my favourites :)

    I really hope she will debut a new dress, any recycle would be a disappointment (for me). I also hope that she won't wear the Halo Tiara (as amazing as it is) because I would love to see her surprise us with a new gorgeous tiara.
    It would be great if she wore Queen Mary's Amethyst Tiara and matching jewellry - these jewels are among my favourites from the british royal family :) Purple looks great if your hair is brunette!

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    1. I think she will wear McQueen too Sonja. That seems to be her go to brand for the more important events. I agree about Queen Mary's Amethyst suite. The purple stones against her dark hair would be incredible.

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    2. Sonja - since the Halo tiara has so much sentimental value (I assume) I think Kate won't re-wear it until another very special event. I'd love for the Queen to gift it to Kate!

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    3. I would love to see Kate where the Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara. So symbolic because of the name and because it was one of Diana's favorites.

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  6. Perhaps she will wear the gown she wore for the Diplomatic reception. We only saw the neckline and would love to see it properly.
    However the ladies of the royal family tend to wear white for banquets, although Catherine has no sash to wear, so can probably wear any colour. I suspect she will have to wear whatever tiara she is offered,but I hope it is the scroll and that she wears her wedding earrings.

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  7. I like all the gowns except the green one. My favorite and the one I think she looks the best in is the hibiscus gown, although I would probably not have sleeves on it. Ali

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  8. My favorite and my least favorite gowns are both by McQueen. My very favorite is, of course, the lilac she wore in Hollywood. It was very "modern princess" and the flow of it was stunning. My second favorite gown is the DvF she wore to the Royal Variety Performance in 2014. That was a beautifully classic gown and the fit on her was perfect. My very least favorite gown was the McQueen gold and white at the Malaysia State Banquet. I do hope Kate will not opt to skip the tiara this time. I would love to see the cream lace gown from the Diplomats' Reception so it could get a fair critique!

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    1. Robin, just in case people were starting to talk (lol), there *is* something we don't see eye to eye on. :)) The lilac gown was beautiful, but I thought it was too voluminous for her figure. And I did like the gold and white McQueen gown.

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    2. I agree. The lilac gown was perfection. mk

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    3. Oh, no, royalfan! Are we having our first disagreement? It seems as though I am definitely in the minority on the gold and white McQueen. Oh, well. it's been known to happen.

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    4. Robin, you're not alone on the white & gold. If the Duchess never wears that one again, I'd be pleased as pie. I, too, adore the pleated lilac chiffon. She looked very willowy and elegant in those shots of her talking to Nicole Kidman.

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  9. *excited* yes, a new bespoke McQueen would be great. And to second Sonja, amethyst would be beautiful on Kate. Or emeralds for her green eyes. I love the McQueen black velvet & lilac gowns most and would love to see what shape the Diplomat dinner dress was - the lace neckline is pretty, so one can only imagine the dress... What color will she go with, I wonder? :)

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  10. My money is on McQueen (and no recycling) for the state banquet. I suspect the neckline will be on the safe side while accommodating a necklace, if she wears one. And my fingers are crossed for a chignon and some regal earrings to go with the tiara. Also, since the Queen tends to wear white for these occasions, I have a feeling Kate will try to blend in rather than stand out in a bright color.

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    1. Oh, good, we are back in agreement. I think it likely that Kate will either wear an off white or a very pastel color. The Queen almost always wears white to these big state occasions so it is highly unlikely we will see Kate in a bold color.

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  11. A pastel pink or ice blue, royalfan? Is their attendance confirmed anywhere? I am trying to imagine both Catherine and
    Camilla dressed to the nines at the same event. Seating arrangements?
    I forgot. Charles is not expected at the State banquet, I believe.mk
    Please let there be good pictures this time, although that's not the usual protocol.
    And a tiara, of course.
    Fun post, Jane.

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    1. Yes, I was thinking exactly that...pastel. And since Kate does favor blue, it may be the ice blue you suggest. And wouldn't it be wonderful to see a diamond and sapphire tiara with it!!

      http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.com/2011/12/readers-top-15-tiaras-15-queen.html

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    2. Yes, with the ice blue. Would the amethysts Sonja suggested go with pastel pink? I wonder if we could start one
      Of those internet petitions for Kate to wear a tiara? Ha! Mk

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    3. Sonja from BavariaAugust 24, 2015 at 2:03 AM

      I also thought about a pastel colour... maybe a kind of a baby blue and she will wear a tiara with sapphires?

      But I have to admit I'm still hoping for Queen Mary's Amethyst Tiara :) this jewellry would go well with a soft shade if lilac just like her gown from L.A. or with a pastel pink (that's a colour that suits Kate really well - just think of the McQueen outfit she wore in Adelaide!).

      But am I the only one who thinks that Kate probably won't wear a necklace? She didn't wear ond to the diplomatic reception and in general, she seems to prefer to wear 'just' earrings + a bracelet (+ a tiara)... I think we only saw her wearing a necklace with an evening goen twice... 1. The nizam of hyderabad necklace with the jenny packham gown 2. The zara statement necklace with the roland mouret gown.
      What do you think? :)

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    4. The. Mouawad with the black velvet, which Jane piictured above? I think that clunky Hyderabad necklace
      will not be repeated. (Hopefully) Such formidable sparkle power requires an equally formidable chest to
      (literally and figuritively) support it.
      If this were anything but a State banquet, I would tend to agree with you
      about a necklace. Perhaps an amethyst pendant necklace? Surely there is a delicate sapphire necklace.
      It may also depend on whether or not Catherine has received the Queen's order yet . And the sash.
      I know those details don't hold back the bling for others, but. Kate may go for a more modest look,-more her
      Style and appropriate to her position. mk

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    5. Sonja, I too believe she will wear a tiara with earrings (hair up, I hope) and most likely pass on a necklace. It's just my guess...

      The two times that she has worn serious necklaces (with the black velvet gown above) and the Queen's Nizam of Hyderabad diamond necklace, I though the long hair ruined the look.

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    6. I agree, royalfan (shocker!), if you're going to wear a fabulous piece of jewelry the hair should not get in the way. People criticize Kate for trying to emulate Diana too much but I think she is in need of taking a page out of the Princess of Wales book. She's a senior royal with a veritable plethora of jewels and tiaras to borrow for state occasions. Time to take advantage of that. If she shows up looking every inch a Princess of the Realm it will go a long way toward the press' backing off for a little bit.

      While we're at it, I'm also thinking that, for casual occasions, she's done the skinnies and it's time to move on. Also, time to say good-bye to the Corkswoons. When there is nothing else to do but look back at old photos you begin to realize how often the same things are worn over and over - and over. In looking back over Princess Diana's wardrobe, she was far more fashion forward and, while I know Kate doesn't have the money at her disposal that Diana did, she needs to change it up a bit. I hate to say that she's fallen into the trap of "soccer mom lazy" but it's becoming a danger. She did much better her first year of marriage, her first pregnancy, and the tour than she has since. It's like the Australian tour burnt her out and she's having trouble coming back. Even her second pregnancy wardrobe was fairly unimaginative. I had to have two cortisone injections in my neck today - I'm feeling cranky.

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    7. Hear, hear Robin! I completely agree with you. Good luck with those injections.

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    8. Robin, first, I do hope you are feeling better. The shots do not sound very pleasant.... :(

      And yes, we are in full agreement on the hair. Serious jewelry (and clothing) calls for serious, grown up hairstyles. Kate's hair is lovely, but long hair is not the best look with evening gowns and other more formal outfits. It also covers her neck and shoulders, as well as the neckline of the dress/coat/gown.

      Also, I have to admit that as much as I have defended Kate's skinny jeans, you made some valid points.

      But we differ where her second pregnancy is concerned. I thought she did a much better job the second time around. When she was pregnant with George, her approach seemed to be "make due...make it work". But during her second pregnancy we saw many new pieces. The brown coat she wore on St Patrick's Day and the navy coat she wore to the service at St Paul's Cathedral were my favorites.

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    9. Maggie - MinneapolisAugust 29, 2015 at 6:58 PM

      I agree with royalfan (it's happened, royalfan, we did it! :P) about liking Kate's second pregnancy style better. I didn't like her first pregnancy style much - I thought she tried a little too hard to avoid maternity clothes and I also didn't like all of her hemlines going up. But (aside from a few pieces here and there) I really, really thought she looked much more sophisticated and regal during her second pregnancy. Well, I think she started off just okay but by about the end of her second trimester she really had it down. I imagine a lot of it had to do with her just finally embracing maternity clothes, which fit so much better than her previous pregnancy's larger-size-than-usual-regular-clothes. My favorite look on her by far was easily St. Patrick's Day. The navy coat for the Afghanistan Service may have beaten it out except it just seemed a little too tight on her.

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    10. LOL Maggie. I'm glad I was sitting down. :)) And we even agree on the top two looks!

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  12. Oh...I hated then and I hate now that fluffy sweather on Kate's wedding gown so so much. It looks so cheapish.

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  13. Interesting article by Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks's wife about her experience at the State diner for president Obama at Buckingham Palace a few years ago. She shares details of the dress code which includes a "structured bodice and full skirt". Also strapless or sleeveless dresses require over the elbow long gloves. Will be interesting to see what Kate picks! http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a740/rita-wilson-buckingham-palace-dinner/

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    1. Thank you for sharing the article. It was a hoot to read and really interesting and full of information.Ali

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    2. Does anyone still wear those opera-length gloves?If so, I have a drawer full I'd be happy to share. Memories of the
      50's and 60's.mk

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    3. Interesting article and many details that we only kind of knew before but I thought Rita Wilson's dress was not appropriate at all and I think the lady-in-waiting did too. It is not a compliment to be told that it looks like you spray painted your dress on followed by a comment about how sheer it is. I know she was trying to be clever in her remarks but some of them sounded a little like complaining about the requirements for attending a once in a lifetime event that most people will never get to do.

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    4. Rita Wilson's dress was better suited for the red carpet in Hollywood...not BP. And while I understand that she was trying to be humorous (in the article), some of her comments came across as shallow and unappreciative.

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  14. I SO loved the dress she wore to her wedding reception! It's was just so beautiful!

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    1. Amy, I to liked the dress and the very simple angora sweater as well.

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  15. I've always loved the gown Kate chose for her wedding reception.... so classy and elegant yet also understated. I thought she looked absolutely beautiful!! I know I'm in the minority, but I never cared much for her wedding gown. Her reception dress, however, remains one of my all-time favorites. I love everything about the look, including the sparkly belt and the white angora sweater. And her hair was just perfect! I thought Kate looked so young and pretty and natural for the evening party. I just wish there were more photos of the reception and this gorgeous dress.

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  16. Hi Jane, this is my first comment on your wonderful blog! I must say, whilst Kate can look awesome in a paper bag, I am not wow-ed everytime Kate has stepped out in formal wear. Her wedding gowns were of course amazing, but like someone commented earlier, I think her subsequent McQueen gowns have been a tad disappointing. I am Malaysian and sadly I did not like her hibiscus gown at all. And neither did I like the black velvet gown as I think it was a bit too 80's - she could have looked a lot more modern, for her age. My favourite McQueen gown so far (other than the wedding gown) has to be the green gown she wore to the BBC Sports event. I do think she looks better in Jenny Packham (most of the Jenny gowns she has worn look amazing on her - especially the midnight blue one she wore in New York) as well as Roland Mouret.

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    1. I agree with all points!

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