Good morning! We continue our "What Will Kate Wear to the State Banquet" series by looking at the next possible candidate in the race to design the dress. Last time, we chatted about the lead candidate--the horse out ahead of the pack--and that is, of course, Alexander McQueen. Tonight, we turn to another worthy possibility: the Queen of Kate's evening wear, Jenny Packham. (Kate wore this black Jenny P at a State Reception Down Under. It isn't floor length, and so is not included, but it is an evening event at which Kate went with JP.)
I know what you are thinking. Last time, we discovered that Kate has actually debuted more McQueen evening gowns than any other designer, but... I think that Packham retains the crown for Queen of the Night because she has designed for some really big events--more big evening events than McQueen. Perhaps more accurately, we could say that she has had a magic concoction of high-profile events and really head turning designs. Let's look over the dresses to get a sense of what his means.
On her very first public event as a royal, the very first, Kate and William were slated to attend the ARK Gala. That was a huge, historical, iconic moment. Kate wore this shimmering Packham gown that remains to this day, a favorite for many.
It was almost a year later that she wore her second JP evening gown, but it was another stunner. In May 2012, she wore the teal Jenny P to the Our Greatest Team Rises gala, and it dazzled. I think this is my favorite evening gown. I am still head over heels with it, and it continues to wow me despite my familiarity with it.
In 2013, Kate had another big event on her calendar. Her come-back after George's birth was the hotly anticipated Tusk Trust gala. This was the longest dry-patch we had experienced since (what will become) a life-time of being spoiled rotten commenced on the 29th of April in 2011. She turned to Jenny Packham again, debuting this super-sparkly column dress. Was I super-duper in love with the dress? I won't go that far, but (to use a colloquial turn of phrase at which my mother would purse her lips) Kate looked pretty smoking, so there was that.
It was just the next month that she debuted what turned out to be a very popular dress. On an evening out (in? The event was held in the KP State Apartments...) for 101 Women in Hedge Funds and Action Addiction, Kate debuted an ink-blue Jenny Packham. We loved it at the time, but fans were a little disappointed that we didn't get a better look at the stunner. The lighting wasn't ideal, and as is generally the case when Kate attends an evening of this sort, pictures were scarce.
Little did we know, we had nothing to worry about. Kate gave this dress the good ol' Royal-Repeat when she wore it in February of 2014 on her first public engagement of that year. It was a notable appearance because she paired it with the eye-watering Nizam of Hyderabad necklace on loan from the Queen. Kate almost never wears bling of this degree, and it was a bit of a random one-off. I have no idea what precipitated it, nor why she never went back, but...be thankful for small blessings. It was fun and unexpected!
It would have been within reason to think that was it for the ink-blue Jenny P. It was a beauty and it got its fair shake. Ha! Kate the Great never ceases to amaze. Who would have thought that on the final night of her hugely popular tour of NYC, at the glittering and imposing Metropolitan Museum of Art, that Kate would wear anything but a new, custom design? Not so. Kate pulled a three-peat. It couldn't have been more fabulous. With her hair swept up and with new, dazzling emeralds dripping from her ears, Kate was every inch the princess. It was almost as if the confidence of the recycle made her even more amazing. I think we were all wowed. Well done, Your Grace.
This (St. Andrews 600th) was the last time we saw Kate in a Jenny Packham evening gown, but let us not forget that between the repeat and the three-peat, she wore one other Jenny Packham dress that was floor-length. That would be this, her most unusual gown. Many speculate, and I am of the same mind, that Kate had this dress made for her trip to Malta, which was regrettably canceled due to her HG with Charlotte. It certainly would have been perfect for a Mediterranean night!
So, to sum up. Yes, McQueen has the larger evening gown count if we are considering debuts only, Packham squeaks by McQueen in the count if we consider appearances only, and I would argue that Packham has beaten McQueen in the "quality" i.e. notoriety of the events. You will see photos of Kate waving on the steps of the Met in NYC, pregnant with her second child, far more than you will of Kate presenting a quick award for BBC. (No disrespect to that event.) You will see far more photos of Kate in that teal bridal gown than you will the hibiscus Belle dress--again, no disrespect to Malaysia. Although I am not suggesting Jenny will snag eh State Banquet, she still rules the night.
Next up, we will discuss, ahem, third tier possibilities. I haven't gotten a chance to respond to the comments, and likely will not be able to given how much work I have on this end, but I have enjoyed so many of the comments on the possibilities, and agree with many solid points that have been made. We will sum up some of those in the final post of this series.