When it comes to dressing the part, the new Princess of Wales rarely misses. And thanks to a constant succession of glittering state dinners, royal appointments, and a fair few red-carpet appearances, we have seen her slip into many standout ballgowns over the years.
Her formal wardrobe is filled with her favourite designers and Kate is famously keen to support home-grown British talent. London-based designers, including Erdem, Emilia Wickstead, and Christopher Kane, have dressed her on many an official engagement, and succeeded in orchestrating some spectacles.
But for her first black-tie event as the Princess of Wales, we knew Kate would opt for something truly extraordinary. Attending the lavish state banquet last night (November 22), held in honour of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, the princess stunned in a white cape gown by Jenny Packham. Embellished with shimmering beading around the shoulders and a fitted silhouette, she paired the elegant frock with the Lover’s Knot tiara.
Last night’s sartorial choice was no surprise - when it comes to the princess’s glitziest of statements, Jenny Packham has been on speed-dial for years. The British designer, who studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art and held her first presentation in 1988, has been behind some of the most memorable royal gowns.
The sparkling gold, sequin dress Kate wore to storm the James Bond No Time To Die red carpet in December last year was Packham at her best. And, during 2022’s royal Caribbean tour, the crystal-embellished, off-the-shoulder green tulle dress the duchess wore for a Jamaican state dinner also proved the designer knows how to pull off the perfect princess moments.
Kate’s other trusted go-to is Alexander McQueen. While the namesake designer died in 2010, Sarah Burton, who had started at the brand as an intern, has helmed it as creative director ever since. She was behind Kate’s intricate lace wedding dress from 2011, and has since dressed the princess for National Portrait Gallery openings and UK state dinners. A highlight for the brand was the opportunity to robe the queen-to-be for her 40th birthday portraits, photographed by Paolo Roversi.
For the 2020 Bafta Awards, the mum-of-three proved her knack for recycling her favourite frocks. Adhering to the dress code, which encouraged guests to re-wear something in their wardrobe, Kate opted for an embellished Alexander McQueen gold and white gown she had first worn to a state dinner in Malaysia in 2012.
It is also no secret that the princess is game to have some fun with fashion, too. Nowhere is that more clear than with her outings in The Vampire’s Wife. The London-based brand, founded in 2014 by Susie Cave who is married to post-punk Australian singer Nick Cave, is famous for its striking metallic dresses, which come with a dose of gothic glamour.
On a trip to Belize, part of the royal tour of the Caribbean celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee this year, the then-duchess turned heads in the fuchsia shade ‘Light Sleeper’ dress, bought from The Vampire’s Wife for £2,500. It was yet another example of Kate’s eveningwear motto: if you have to do it, do it in style.
Scroll through the gallery above to see the Princess of Wales’s best evening dresses of all time...