Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Kate in Green Lace Temperley London Gown for 2017 Portrait Gala

The Duchess of Cambridge attended the glamorous 2017 Portrait Gala at the National Portrait Gallery in London this evening.

The Duchess has been patron of the National Portrait Gallery since 2012, and tonight marks the second Portrait Gala Kate has attended.

The NPG posted this lovely arrival photo - a beautiful evening in London.

The black-tie event raises funds which will directly support the National Portrait Gallery's work in delivering inspirational exhibitions and displays, offering unique learning opportunities and undertaking world-class research.

The 2017 Gala is fundraising for Coming Home, a project that will make it possible for portraits of iconic individuals to return to places that are special to them for a loan period of over three years. Coming Home will enable sitters such as Sir Walter Raleigh to return to Dorset, the Brontë sisters to Yorkshire and David Beckham to Essex.

The Duchess with the gallery's director Dr. Nicholas Cullinan.

The Duchess had the opportunity to view two exhibitions, beginning with Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends.

The Duchess discussed the pieces with Dr. Cullinan.

It marks the first exhibition of portraits by Howard Hodgkin who passed away earlier this month. Born in Hammersmith, Hodgkin served as an RAF officer rising to Wing Commander during the Second World War. Most frequently associated with abstraction, he enjoyed a successful career since his first London solo show in 1962. He was closely involved with the exhibition 'Absent Friends' at the NPG but sadly did not live to see it. A principle concern of his art has been to evoke a human presence. The exhibition explores Hodgkin’s development of a personal visual language of portraiture, which challenges traditional forms of representation.

Already receiving rave reviews, the exhibition has been hailed as "unmissable" and a "stunning farewell" to one of Britain's greatest artists. In their review The Financial Times wrote: "A first posthumous exhibition crystallises a reputation. Hodgkin was prolific in old age, and recent exhibitions have strongly exposed later work which, as often with older artists, tends to abstraction. But he was never a wholly abstract painter. With a terrific selection of Hodgkin’s most memorable images, the NPG from start to finish stretches the limits of what a portrait can be, and demonstrates how audaciously Hodgkin collapsed boundaries between figurative and non-figurative art."

Next, Kate viewed Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask, where Kate was hosted by Gillian Wearing, who explained the significance of the works featured.

Gillian Wearing is a conceptual artist who won the Turner Prize in 1997 and in 2007 was elected as a lifetime  member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

More on the exhibition from the gallery: "This exhibition brings together for the first time the work of French artist Claude Cahun and British contemporary artist Gillian Wearing. Although they were born almost seventy years apart and came from different backgrounds, remarkable parallels can be drawn between the two artists. Both of them share a fascination with the self-portrait and use the self-image, through the medium of photography, to explore themes around identity and gender, which is often played out through masquerade and performance." Below a self-portrait of Cahun from the 1927 series 'I am in training don't kiss me' and a self-portrait by Wearing from 2003. If interested in discovering more about the work of Claude Cahun the gallery has a fascinating history here.

In the Balcony Gallery The Duchess viewed artwork commissioned for the Gala by artists such as Grayson Perry and Juergen Teller.

To mark the gala, and help raise funds during the evening, a range of artwork has been especially created, including 10 unique masks by the likes of Dame Vivienne Westwood and Philip Treacy, and 100 postcard-sized works of art for a Mystery Portrait Postcard Sale.

Kate was very much in her element and described the artwork she saw as "amazing".

Before dinner, Kate met a selection of guests at a reception, including those who have contributed to the event, friends of the gallery and artists.

Kate met Phillip Chung, father of television presenter and model Alexa Chung, who remarked on the collection of art he had built up thanks to his children. The Duchess told him that she too had begun gathering her own children's artistic efforts together.

Dr. Cullinan joked "It’s interesting to be talking to so many people, and know none of them are looking at me"

Kate chatted to a couple who have a child at Thomas's Battersea, the school George will be attending (more on that further down). More from the Mail Online:

'She was introduced to Richard Found, who runs an architecture and design practice, and his wife Jane Suitor, an art consultant and collector, who revealed that their child was also at Thomas's School in Battersea, where her son will be starting in September. They told the Duchess it was a 'great school' and she said she hoped to see them at the school gates. 'We were chatting about Thomas', the school George will be going to,' said Mr Found afterwards. We're parents there as well. She just said "I may see you at the school gates".'

Other guests included familiar faces to the Duchess such as James Middleton's girlfriend Donna Air.

Prince William's uncle Earl Spencer and his wife Karen.

One of Kate's favourite designers Erdem with Alexa Chung.

Gone Girl actress Rosamund Pike wearing a gown by Erdem.

The gallery shared this photo from the dinner.

Kate was accompanied by Sophie Agnew again tonight, she's an assistant to Rebecca Deacon.

You may recall when the Duchess attended the 2014 Portrait Gala she donned her much-loved sweeping, ink-blue Jenny Packham gown teamed with the Queen's dazzling Nizam of Hyderabad necklace.

The Duchess chose a dark green lace gown by Temperley London for the event. If the gown looks familiar to you it may be because it's likely the same one Kate wore for the Queen's 90th birthday dinner, only a car photo was taken, it can be viewed here. The long sleeve gown features sheer sleeves with a floral pattern, a bow belt to accentuate the waist and a scooped out back. It's a classic Temperley silhouette.

A closer look at the floral detail.

The gown is very much reminiscent of Kate's much loved Temperley London Amoret. The black lace gown was trimmed with scalloped eyelash edges and featured a curved seam. The floral pattern is incredibly similar to the gown Kate wore tonight.

Kate teamed the dress with a pair of statement Kiki McDonough earrings.

Kate's earrings are very similar to the £5,340 Candy Pink Tourmaline and Green Amethyst Drop Earrings are described as "Stunning pear drop green amethysts and pretty round pink tourmalines surrounded by delicate diamonds set in 18ct yellow gold make these truly beautiful earrings."

Kiki McDonough

Kate carried her Wilbur and Gussie Gold Glitter Clutch.

Wilbur & Gussie

Middleton Maven notes it very much appears Kate wore her Jimmy Choo Dart Sandals (memorably worn at the State Dinner in Malaysia in 2012). The sandals feature metallic leather and an asymmetric ankle-wrap. They originally retailed for $820.

Hannah Furness shared an arrival video which offers a good look at Kate's dress.

If interested in viewing the exhibitions discussed in the post, Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun's runs until 29 May; tickets are available here. Howard Hodgkin's 'Absent Friends' can be viewed until 18 June with tickets available here. We conclude this portion of the post with a quote from the uniquely talented artist.


We also have several other updates to share with you beginning with announcements from Kensington Palace earlier today. On Tuesday, 4 April, Kate will attend the opening night of the musical '42nd Street' at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in aid of East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH). '42nd Street' has been described as the "quintessential backstage musical comedy classic" and includes songs such as 'We're in the Money', 'Lullaby of Broadway', 'Dames', 'I Only Have Eyes For You' and '42nd Street'. The musical has played to great global acclaim for almost 40 years and its popularity serves as a legacy to Gower Champion, the legendary director and choreographer of the original Tony Award-winning production. It looks like it's going to a great night in support of a fantastic cause. Speaking of EACH, they are auctioning the Boden hat Kate tried on during the Holt charity shop opening. If you're interested in placing a bid please click here.

The Palace also confirmed the Duchess will visit Luxembourg on Thursday, 11 May. Kate will attend the commemoration of the 1867 Treaty of London, which confirmed Luxembourg’s independence and neutrality. This visit is at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Telegraph has described the visit and others planned for members of the Royal family around Europe as "the next stage of the Brexit tour". Further details are to be announced closer to the date; I expect aides are finalising other engagements for the day in addition to the commemoration. Perhaps we'll see the Duchess meeting members of Luxembourg's royal family? It's interesting to observe the role of the Royal family in deploying 'soft diplomacy'. Where we would normally be chatting about Commonwealth tours, the focus looks to remain on Europe throughout the year. It will mark Kate's second solo overseas trip following her visit to the Netherlands last year.


As referenced earlier in the post, Prince George is to attend Thomas's School in Battersea, South London this September. Whilst it was widely reported he would follow in his father's footsteps at Wetherby, William and Kate have chosen the co-educational school. The school is described as a "busy, thriving, purposeful school educating 540 boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 13. Art, ballet, drama, ICT, French, music and physical education are all taught by specialist teachers from a child's first day in school. It's an interesting choice because Thomas's actually have a branch in Kensington, very close to the Palace, whereas the Battersea branch is the bones of a 30 minute drive. A factor in their decision may be the fact Battersea is not only a co-ed but has a kindergarten. I expect they are thinking ahead and plan to send Charlotte there too.

Addressing parents in a letter, the £6,000-a-term school's headmaster Ben Thomas wrote:

'We are delighted to let you know that they have chosen Thomas's and that from September Prince George will be a pupil at Thomas's Battersea. This is clearly a significant moment for their family and most certainly for Thomas's. Like so many parents, the Duke and Duchess have put a great deal of thought into the choice of their eldest child's first "big school". 
We are honoured that the aims and values of Thomas's reflect those that Their Royal Highnesses would like for Prince George's education. We are deeply conscious of the trust that they, like all Thomas's parents, are placing in us and we hope very much to live up to their expectations. The Duke and Duchess have made it clear that they do not wish Prince George's attendance at Thomas's to change its aims, values or ethos in any way. They would like, as far as is possible, for him to enjoy the same education that all of our pupils receive and for them to join the school community as all of our new parents do.’


 And last, but certainly not least, Kate's private secretary Rebecca Deacon and Adam Priestly were married at the Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace on Saturday. Rebecca looked simply radiant in a classically elegant white gown and an updo. Very few photos have surfaced from the event and it is not known whether William and Kate attended. I would imagine it's very, very likely they were there for the ceremony, perhaps slipping out privately afterwards. There are a couple of photos of the happy couple leaving the ceremony on the Mail Online. A huge congratulations to Mr and Mrs Priestly, it looked like a beautiful wedding!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Kate Speaks on Motherhood: "It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together."

Ahead of Mother's Day, the Duchess of Cambridge attended the launch of maternal mental health films with Heads Together charity partner Best Beginnings at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London today.

Following yesterday's horrific terror attack on Westminster, it was very much up in the air until this morning if the engagement would go ahead. Her Majesty postponed plans to open the New Scotland Yard building until a later date. Victoria Arbiter tweeted "Worth noting that the Queen's postponed engagement will not be due to fear but rather a conscious effort to relieve the burden on police". In terms of location there was no reason to cancel Kate's appearance and no doubt after much consideration it was decided not change the schedule.

It is  exactly one month until the Virgin Money 2017 London Marathon, for which Heads Together is the Official Charity of the Year. William, Kate and Harry are very much hoping to make it a 'mental health marathon' and have been carrying out individual and joint engagements ahead of the big event. A key point of these engagements has been to highlight the amazing work being done by the charities involved. Best Beginnings focuses on the period between conception and a child’s third birthday, where the foundations of a healthy and fulfilling life are laid. Founded by Alison Baum in 2006, the organisation aims to ensure that every child has the best start in life by: developing practical, simple, educational and interactive tools to support parents-to-be and new parents. Embedding resources in local health pathways and training professionals to use them in their practice. Raising awareness of the things that can affect new mums, dads, bumps and babies and engaging with government, authorities and society to influence change.

Kate received a warm welcome upon arrival from CEO Alison Baum.

The event, to raise awareness of maternal mental health challenges and start conversations about the wellbeing of parents and their children, was attended by health campaigners, academics and other professionals in the field.

The Duchess watched one of Best Beginnings films. Rebecca English noted Kate was accompanied by Sophie Agnew today, assistant to her private secretary Rebecca Deacon and a likely contender to replace her when she leaves.

The 'Out of the Blue’ film series was created by Best Beginnings to promote mental health for parents and their children. The series explores a range of mental health conditions from low mood and anxiety to more severe forms of depression through stories told by real mothers across the country. The films are also aimed to help fathers, and the wider circle of family and friends to better understand mental health issues and show how to support mothers more effectively. For those interesting in viewing the videos, information on downloading them is available here.

The Duchess appropriately began her speech by sending "thoughts and prayers to all those sadly affected by yesterday's terrible attack in Westminster". I was very much looking forward to hearing Kate speak about motherhood in her speech. Drawing on her own experiences, the Duchess admitted to a lack of confidence and feelings of ignorance as a mother. "It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together.  Your fundamental identity changes overnight.  You go from thinking of yourself as primarily an individual, to suddenly being a mother, first and foremost." Kate's speech was excellent - easily the most personal one she's given discussing the highs and lows of becoming a parent. I imagine these are feeling all parents experience. With the joys come challenges and perhaps it's not always easy for people to discuss those challenges.

The full text of Kate's speech:

'Before I begin, I know you would all want to join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to all those sadly affected by yesterday’s terrible attack in Westminster.  We will be thinking of all the families, as we discuss the important issues we're here to talk about.
I would like to thank Best Beginnings for inviting me here to introduce the 'Out of The Blue' series.  This collection of films highlights how vital it is to be open about our mental health especially in the early years of parenthood.
Personally, becoming a mother has been such a rewarding and wonderful experience.  However, at times it has also been a huge challenge- even for me who has support at home that most mothers do not. Nothing can really prepare you for you the sheer overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother.  It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together.  Your fundamental identity changes overnight.  You go from thinking of yourself as primarily an individual, to suddenly being a mother, first and foremost.
And yet there is no rule book, no right or wrong - you just have to make it up and do the very best you can to care for your family.  For many mothers, myself included, this can, at times lead to lack of confidence and feelings of ignorance. Sadly, for some mothers, this experience can be made so much harder due to challenges with their own mental health.  Two in ten women will suffer mental health issues that can occur during pregnancy and in the year after birth, often clouding their moments of joy with a real sense of darkness and isolation.  Many of these women also suffer in silence, overwhelmed by negative feelings, but also afraid to admit to the struggles they are facing due to the fear or shame of what others might think if they “aren’t coping”. 
Some of this fear is about the pressure to be a perfect parent; pretending we're all coping perfectly and loving every minute of it.  It's right to talk about motherhood as a wonderful thing, but we also need to talk about its stresses and strains.  It’s ok not to find it easy.  Asking for help should not be seen as a sign of weakness.
If any of us caught a fever during pregnancy, we would seek advice and support from a doctor.  Getting help with our mental health is no different – our children need us to look after ourselves and get the support we need.
Conversations are crucial for mental wellbeing and they should be part of everyday family life.  Talking about a problem with a friend or another trusted person can be the beginning of getting better. This week, as we look forward to Mother’s Day, I would love to see everyone celebrate and value the fundamental importance that mothers play in family life. Mothers take on an overwhelming responsibility of caring for their families.  Their role is vital in providing unconditional love, care, and support at home, particularly in the early years of a child’s development. We therefore should do everything we can to support and value their hard work. 
The work of Best Beginnings is vital.  By providing tools and resources to help parents establish their own confidence and their own self-awareness, Best Beginnings enables mothers and fathers to do the best they can for their families.
The Out of the Blue films you are about to see are also an amazing example to all parents, that starting conversations and asking for support is a real source of strength.  They have been created with real parents, talking honestly and openly about their own experiences of parenthood. '

A video of Kate's speech.

A view of Kate leaving the auditorium from Richard Palmer.

Kate then joined a parent support group to talk with parents about how becoming a parent affected their mental health and how open and honest conversations with family, friends or other trusted people helped them get through the tough times.

The Duchess talked about how "There's so much support for mothers when they are pregnant but it can be very lonely after your baby is born."

More from the Daily Express:

'Ms Grant said: "I wasn't sleeping,I was unable to feed, I had an infection and was in a bad way physically after I lost three quarters of my blood. I begged for help with what I think was my last vestige of sanity. I just wanted to get my baby someone where safe and was admitted to a special mother and baby unit."
Thanks to the help of a team of 'amazing' professionals, Ms Grant made a good recovery and her 'bright and funny' son, now four and a half, is about to start school, while she is back at work. Kate told her: "I feel very passionately about women - and fathers, getting the help they need at the right time and being able to talk about these issues. "I know if William was here then he would say the same."
She added: "Well done to you all in taking the step to come here and talk about your experiences. Having that conversation is so important."

Kate was delighted to meet two year old Teegan Mia and said to her "You have been so good, sitting there. I know George wouldn't have done the same at your age!"

Daily Mail royal reporter Rebecca English shared a video of Kate talking to one mother about post-partum psychosis.

Before leaving, Kate posed with staff and families she met for photos.

The Duchess brought back her much loved red and white gingham skirt suit from Kensington based bespoke firm Eponine London (named after designer Jet Shenkman's children's favourite Les Miserables character). Kate first wore the chic look almost exactly a year ago for a visit to the XLP Mentoring Programme.

The top features a boat neck and three-quarter sleeves while the skirt is A-line. It originally retailed for £1200. The womenswear brand is "inspired by the elegant lines of the fifties and sixties". Every garment is designed and made in London for women who seek out individuality and who desire to be both chic and contemporary.

Eponine London

Kate's suit is from the Spring/Summer 2016 Collection. 

Eponine London

Kate carried her L.K. Bennett Nina Clutch. The £185 clutch remains available on the U.K. website.

L.K. Bennett

The Duchess chose her Gianvito Rossi '105' pumps in praline. The $675 pumps are described as "Is there anything more chic than a classic pair of suede pumps? We think not - and we simply adore this rosy-nude pair from Gianvito Rossi. Crafted in Italy, they come with a seductive stiletto heel and an elegantly streamlined toe". They are available at My Theresa.

My Theresa

Kate accessorised with her Kiki McDonough Cushion Drop and Morganite earrings.

Kiki McDonough

In a formidable speech this morning, Prime Minister Theresa May said “Beyond these walls today – in scenes repeated in towns and cities across the country – millions of people are going about their days and getting on with their lives. The streets are as busy as ever, the offices full, the coffee shops and cafés bustling. As I speak, millions will be boarding trains and aeroplanes to travel to London and to see from themselves the greatest city on earth. It is in these actions, millions of acts of normality, that we find the best response to terrorism". There's been such a display of unity, courage and strength. From the first responders to the doctors and nurses who ran from St Thomas Hospital to help the injured displaying incredible bravery, to those who walked into the office this morning and went about their routine showing "acts of normalcy" are so important. It was good to see Kate embodying the "keep calm and carry on" spirit so many in London have shown.  I know we all echo Kate's words when we say our thoughts and prayers are with all those who were affected by the senseless act of terror yesterday.