All eyes were on the Duchess at the Bond premiere, but was she the… Girl with the golden gown – or Dr Oh No?
YES: OLD-SCHOOL GLAMOUR WITH ECHOES OF DIANA
By Karen Kay
After a prolonged period of limited opportunities for red carpet drama, if ever there was a time to pull out all the sartorial stops, this was it — and the Duchess knew it. She was operating at Her Majesty’s Service, under orders to light up London. And it was, as they say in the business, mission accomplished.
In true Bond girl fashion, the Duchess seduced us with a dose of breathtaking oldschool glamour, wearing a caped, floor-length tulle gown, encrusted with glittering gold sequins, beads and crystals — all carried with perfect regal poise in a pair of £555 Aquazzura gold leather stilettoes.
With its defined shoulderline and bold, gold hue, the bespoke Jenny Packham creation offered more than a nod to the Dynasty era, while the trompe l’oeil draping effect, created by a sequinned sunburst design, echoed the golden era of 1930s and 1940s silver-screen sirens.
Karen Kay and Liz Jones share their honest thoughts on the gown worn by the Duchess of Cambridge (pictured) for the Bond premiere in London
Packham had collaborated with the Duchess to merge details from three current off-the-peg styles, in a bid to make the ultimate Bond gown for her most famous client.
The £2,800 Margot style formed the foundation for the plunging dress, with its sarong-style waistline perfectly accentuating a slender silhouette, while the £3,900 Christina style inspired the dramatic caped shoulderline and the £3,600 Elizabeth dress formed the basis for the trails of sequins used on the cape.
But it was a historical fashion reference that proved to be a rather more poignant reminder of the power of royal style statements.
In 1985, attending the premiere of Bond film A View To A Kill, Kate’s late mother-in-law, the Princess of Wales, wore a dazzling molten silver gown by British couturier Bruce Oldfield, which used sunray-pleated lamé to create a plunging neckline, exaggerated shoulders and draped shaping around the hips — all design details mirrored in Kate’s contemporary take on the look. It was a masterstroke.
And, as further proof she was on the thunderball, the Duchess wasn’t alone in adopting the caped crusader trend.
Introduced by Alexander McQueen a few years ago, the distinctive style was also worn by Lea Seydoux — Bond girl Dr Madeleine Swann — who chose Louis Vuitton’s subtle scattering of silver sequins on swathes of silk chiffon.
Meanwhile, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who co-wrote the screenplay, went for a minimalist version in a plunging jumpsuit beneath an artfully draped full-length coat encrusted with ivory sequins.
With her 40th birthday looming early next year, Kate is adopting a style that positions her as a modern figurehead for the monarchy.
Karen said the Duchess seduced us with a dose of breathtaking old-school glamour, as she stepped out in a bespoke gown by Jenny Packham. Pictured: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Championing home-grown design talent — often from female-led fashion brands — she has, with the support of loyal aide Natasha Archer, curated a stable of labels that she can call upon to dress her for any occasion.
Together, the pair have created a new definition of working wardrobe for a modern royal, from girl-next-door waxed jackets and Breton tops to sophisticated, show-stopping eveningwear.
Whether she turns to Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, Emilia Wickstead, Catherine Walker or smaller enterprises such as Beulah London and Eponine London, her coterie of trusted British brands will happily create bespoke pieces, or adapt existing designs to ensure the Duchess always walks the fine sartorial line between respect for royal tradition and the evolving character of a contemporary House of Windsor.
And if this week’s effort is anything to go by, the fashion crown is in very safe hands.
NO: A CHRISTMAS TREE – WITH AGEING SEQUINS
By Liz Jones
You look jolly lovely!’ So said Daniel Craig to the Duchess of Cambridge at the Bond premiere.
And, yes, she did. I loved the elaborately piled updo. As did everyone else, given the next morning my inbox was overflowing with missives telling me how to ‘get Kate’s look’ using Ultra Bond invisible extensions and hair pieces (Has she? Would she?)
Both her hair and make-up — the smokey eye and false lashes so extravagant they could be seen from outer space — reminded me of an old-school Hollywood goddess: a Liz Taylor, say. Or Italian actress Claudia Cardinale.
Liz said the gown Kate opted for was too old-fashion and only women of a certain age wear sequins for formal occasions. Pictured: Camilla and Kate at the Bond premiere
And herein lies the problem. The gown was simply too old-fashioned. In fact, it was so bling it reminded me of the 1980s — as with the aforementioned night Diana walked the red carpet in tin foil by Bruce Oldfield. It was like something out of Dynasty, and that’s not a good thing!
Only women of a certain age wear sequins for formal occasions in order to deflect attention from crepey cleavages, which is why the rails at M&S are currently stuffed with them.
Kate, you’re a young woman of 39 with a fabulous figure — so show it off! Your upper arms, honed by gardening and tennis, were shrouded in a cape! I can’t stand capes, pelmets, cloaks and trains; far too fussy. Reclaim the red carpet and bare your shoulders and your soul. When your smile dazzles, nothing else has to.
Perhaps Kate purposely avoided muted tones, thinking it too Meghan. But I’d have loved to have seen her in something a little edgier. Not a Disney princess, but a modern one. A minimalist Tom Ford tuxedo jumpsuit with killer heels, say, dripping with white diamonds.
Instead, I’m afraid that Kate resembled a gaudy Christmas tree which, yes, made her stand out. But that’s not the point of being a royal at the latest Bond premiere. It’s the actors’ big night; you’re only supposed to play second fiddle.