Say what you will about the Duchess of Cambridge lately, but this has been a very dramatic winter of fashion. Between the floral Erdems, fur and the controversial green Jenny Packham last night, I have a feeling Kate is looking forward to the days when she can don her skinnies and a Breton-striped top in peace and call it a day. Everything else aside, it’s worth noting that Kate has been turning up at event after event, including a number of evening engagements requiring formal wear, with a smile on her face at seven months pregnant. That’s no mean feat.
So, last night behind us, let’s move on to the task at hand: the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at Buckingham Palace. This event was co-hosted by Kate alongside the Countess of Wessex, which was an interesting mix. I don’t think Kate and Sophie have ever taken on an engagement one-on-one, and generally we only see them together at larger family events. But both women are popular and generally perceived as the most stylish members of the British Royal Family, so tapping them for this feels right.
Also on hand was Princess Beatrice, eldest daughter of the Duke of York. Not a full-time working royal – and not listed as a formal host this evening – it still makes sense that she too would turn up. After all, for better or worse, her rather famous topper at William and Kate’s wedding has gone down in British fashion history(!)
The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange is a new creative initiative with a goal of establishing partnerships between emerging and established British brands ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in April. Timed alongside London Fashion Week, which I’ve always wished Kate would participate in, Kate and Sophie welcomed the likes of Anna Wintour, Stella McCartney, Naomi Campbell and Edward Enninful to a Palace reception.
Personally, watching Kate and Anna Wintour shake hands made me want to re-watch “Devil Wears Prada” for the 100th time because I can absolutely imagine Kate not knowing at first quite how to spell “Gabbana.”
As for what Kate herself wore, we actually saw a bit of an Erdem trifecta. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Duchess had taken a bit of a break from the brand after the criticism of the two evening looks she wore in Stockholm and Oslo, but no, she was back on that horse in no time. Tonight she chose a black and white print cocktail-length dress with ruffling along the bodice and sleeves. If Kate weren’t so heavily pregnant I might complain that it’s all a bit dull, but, well, she is, and so while I don’t think this look is anything to write home about, I think she looks perfectly lovely at an event for which it was probably a bit tricky to dress.
You may notice that the dress features that prominent ruffle on the skirt for which it is so famous. Many dislike the brand for touches such as this, but I actually quite like its addition tonight – it gives the dress just enough “something” to keep it interesting.
Her shoes are Prada and her earrings are Anita Dongre, an Indian designer that she has featured a few times in the past. Notably, both Beatrice and Anna Wintour are also wearing Erdem, so the brand’s renaissance continues. Indeed, it is one of the top guesses for which label Meghan Markle will choose for her big day in May.
Finally, Sophie is wearing Burberry and frankly wins the day in my book. The dress is beautiful and polished, and wearing a brand so synonymous with British heritage was pitch perfect.
Video of Kate chatting with designer Karen Walker:
Other news from the day is that the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will undertake a tour of Australia in early April, ahead of the meetings due to begin in London later that month. Because we don’t know the exact date Baby Cambridge #3 is expected, there’s a chance that at least one set of grandparents will be out of the country when he or she makes an appearance.
The photo of the evening has to be Kate eyeing this pink number, as though she had met a ruffle that had finally gone too far:
We’ll next see Kate with William on Wednesday when they carry out engagements in Sunderland. Kate also has three more engagements in the books for next week taking us into the home stretch before she retires from public view for her maternity leave. It’s hard to speculate about when exactly that will be without knowing the due date, but one possibility is ending with the Irish Guards on St. Patrick’s Day. It would be a fitting note to end on, but time will tell.