Kate Middleton’s white dress by Jenny Packham for State Banquet signals a new era in fashion.

If Prince George, Princess Charlotte or Prince Louis ever wandered into the vault/wing where their mother Kate, Princess of Wales keeps her old dresses and some 3,024 useless clutches (all she could possibly keep there except a single tube of lipstick ). gloss and keys to the royal chopper?) at some point in the future, I wonder if they’ll find it split in two.

Those that date before November 2022, and those that were later.


Cause? Dress.

Maybe I’m overexcited, but after starving for so long for royal glamor and a shortage of white ties in recent years due to the devastating effects of the pandemic when Kate arrived at Buckingham Palace early in the morning. On Wednesday, AEDT, things got exciting for the state banquet for South African President Cyril Ramaphos. Very exciting.

There was no trace of a frill, no pastel colors, no modest feminine neckline. It was not a dress that someone would use the adjective (or, in my case, derogatory) “beautiful” to describe.

It was glamour.

Instead of the usually girly dressy number we’ve seen in years past, there was Jenny Packham’s structured dress with a white cape that did well and really added some drama to the action.


Let’s philosophize a little here. This is a woman who very, very rarely gives interviews and, despite her omnipresence in the media, is actually a sphinx-like, incomprehensible enigma. Her comments in public tend to be limited to sweet conversations with young children, discussions of mental health and early childhood issues with various experts, and a smile like a woman whose job depends on it, which to some extent it does.

Kate’s voice – both literally and figuratively – is something we really don’t hear that often.


So, when something like Wednesday’s state banquet costume happens, it’s a bit like her screaming across the room with a certain heady bravura.

When Kate attended her first state banquet in 2015, where she was seen “applauding” Chinese President Xi Jinping, she had been His Royal Highness for four years.

Despite having done a stunning duchess, given birth to two children, and proved she could open a plaque with the best of them, at that dinner she wore an outfit that would not have looked out of place during the Queen Elizabeth tour in 1954. Australia.

It was boring and about as trendy as a discount cart at a Marks & Spencer outlet store.

The biggest takeaway from this and the other evening dresses she rolled out for subsequent state banquets was a certain timidity, a certain sense of her unease that she had made a mistake. Better to be safe. Anyone else lace?

It was as if Kate had a list that she checked in her monogrammed Smithsonian notebook every time she needed a gala dress: Relatively modest? Consistent? Are you missing trendy soup? All done in some soft hue straight off Laura Ashley’s visualization board? We have a tasteless winner!

But then… something happened, “something”, which is discussed a lot. Was it honorable to get through the pandemic by rallying the nation after mastering Zoom? Survive Megzit’s convulsions and the drama-filled post-Megzit era? Or even all of the above? Or are we just seeing her newfound, hard-won confidence shine after 11 years at HRH?

Who knows? Whatever that “something” is or is, the end result is a stunning Wednesday dress that should immediately enter the annals of business wear.

The princess clearly understands the power of the image, and Kate, who entered the ballroom of Buckingham Palace, smelled not only of power, but also of a woman who is quite comfortable in fully wielding her power. (Queen Victoria is probably rolling over in her grave. “And middle class, you said?!”)

If previous outfits from Banquet Kate were pretty much dumb, telling us nothing about a woman inside thousands of dollars worth of tulle, this new Kate was a distant universe. Gone was an outfit that made her look like an extra in a big-budget remake of Cinderella, and in her place was a woman who clearly looked like a future queen of the 21st century.

It was an outfit meant to make a very clear statement; it was a look to impress and be seen, rather than disappear into the scenery.

Now for sure, at the premiere of the new Bond film, the royals wore much more sophisticated dresses. No time to die and Best shooter sequel, but there’s a huge difference between what someone — especially someone with the rigorous awareness of playing by the rules and not rocking the boat — might wear to a red carpet with Daniel Craig and to a diplomatic state event.

There are other factors to keep in mind when it comes to understanding this very clear style change.

Notably, this is 40-year-old Kate’s first public engagement as Princess of Wales, a promotion that carries more weight than just a title change. She is no longer a stone’s throw from the throne, but begins her long apprenticeship, which will eventually lead to her coronation in Westminster Abbey.

If you were paying attention, you might have noticed that when Kate and her husband Prince William showed up at the Corinthia Hotel to officially meet President Ramaphosa and his wife, Dr. Chepo Motsepe, the princess wore a three-feather brooch for the first time. it features the heraldic trio of ostrich plums used by the Prince of Wales from the 14th century.

(It is known that Diana, Princess of Wales, wore this jewelry as a necklace.)

The royal family is an outfit built on symbolism, and the fact that these two events happened on the same day is really interesting. (Now everyone raises their eyebrows and makes a “hmmm” sound…)

The bottom line is that Kate is activating right now. Becomes the Princess of Wales and maybe just like women all over the world, takes a step forward and makes her heard.

If you were Queen Victoria (who considered the women’s rights movement “crazy, vicious folly”), then Kate’s sequined arrogance might not amuse you, but us? Brava, Your Highness! To paraphrase another 19th century star badly, please ma’am, we want more.

Daniela Elser is a writer and royal commentator with over 15 years of experience working with a range of leading Australian media outlets.

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