20th January 2020—The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hosted a reception to mark the UK-Africa Investment Summit at Buckingham Palace on behalf of HM The Queen.
Three other royals joined William and Kate: Princess Anne, the Earl of Wessex (Edward) and his wife, the Countess of Wessex (Sophie).
African Heads of State, Government officials, delegates from the summit and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also attended the reception.
During the evening, William delivered a speech about his close ties to Africa and recollected proposing to Kate during a holiday in Kenya. An excerpt from the speech:
The African continent holds a very special place in my heart. It is the place my father took my brother and me shortly after our mother died. And when deciding where best to propose to Catherine, I could think of no more fitting place than Kenya to get down on one knee.Prince William
The UK Government hosted The UK-Africa Investment Summit with an aim to create lasting partnerships that will deliver more investment, jobs and growth. The UK wants to be Africa’s partner of choice for trade and investment.
Billions of pounds of new commercial deals were announced highlighting the strength of the UK’s offer and existing relationship with Africa. The UK also announced new initiatives and funding which will: strengthen the joint trading relationship, support African countries in their ambition to transform their economies, launch a major new partnership with the city of London, turbo-charge infrastructure financing, and enable Africa’s clean energy potential. Taken together, this will help to realise the UK’s ambition to be the investment partner of choice for Africa, create hundreds of thousands of jobs and ensure the mutual prosperity of all our nations.Gov.uk
Kate’s outfit at the reception:
The Duchess looked dazzling in a red sequin dress by Needle & Thread. This is the first time she has worn a piece from the British brand to a royal engagement.
Kate wore a custom version of the Aurora Gown in Cherry from Needle & Thread’s SS20 Cruise collection. The original piece featured a floor-length skirt, whereas Kate’s skimmed above the ankles.
Later, the brand released a shorter version with the name Aurora Ballerina Dress. You can view both below:
The dress has long semi-sheer sleeves, delicate frills on the neckline and shoulders and a multi-layered full skirt. It’s made from lightweight tulle and decorated with dozens of shimmering sequins. Needle & Thread say Victorian-style inspired the design process; the sequins were carefully placed to resemble the intricate patterns on vintage lace tablecloths. Here’s a closer look at some of the detailing:
The full-length gown is listed for £410 on the Needle & Thread site. Sadly, it’s currently sold out. The shorter Aurora Ballerina Dress, as worn by Kate, is still available in size UK8 for £398. Or, try eBay.com for your size.
Alternatively, a v-neck version of the longer red gown is available at Zalando.co.uk in size UK10 for £348.49.
Needle & Thread’s CEO & Founder Hannah Coffin worked in the fashion industry for over a decade before launching her own brand. She told lovemydress.net that she identified a gap in the market and wanted to “launch a brand that brought contemporary, feminine, timeless products to the consumer at an obtainable price tag.” She calls the Needle & Thread aesthetic “contemporary, feminine and creative”. Below, a number of other spectacular gowns currently available on the N&T website:
Onto the Duchess’s accessories now. Kate chose tonal pieces to complement her red sequin dress. She carried her Jenny Packham Casa clutch.
The red clutch bag is made from pony hair and features a gold-tone metal frame and a crystal-encrusted clasp. The interior is lined with a silk cotton fabric. Inside, a handy mirror is included.
The Duchess has carried the piece on several occasions, it made its debut during the 2016 Tour of Canada, She also owns the bag in silver.
Back in 2016, a website called Lapreno.com (now defunct) sold a blue version of the cutch for £1,010 SGD, around $760 USD at the current rate (Jan 2021). Sadly, the bag is no longer available to purchase.
The shoes are handmade using fine suede leather, they feature an elegant pointed toe and a slim heel. They come in a range of heel heights, but we believe Kate wears the 105mm size. Both net-a-porter.com and gianvitorossi.com carry the shoes in the shade ‘Tabasco Red’ at the time of writing (Jan 2021). I’m not 100% sure that Kate wears this exact shade, but it looks pretty similar (Gianvitro Rossi retires and introduces new colours each season. )
The 105 pump is clearly a favourite style of Kate’s, she owns them in a total of FIVE colours! (And she owns at least FIVE OTHER pairs of shoes and sandals from the designer, wow!)
The Duchess debuted a new pair of earrings for the function. They’re the Ruby Drop Earrings by Soru Jewellery.
The stunning earrings are handcrafted from 18ct gold vermeil plated on to sterling silver. Multifaceted crystals surround a large teardrop-shaped genuine ruby gemstone. They retail for £140 at sorujewellery.com.
This isn’t the first item of jewellery Kate has worn from Soru. She owns the company’s Baroque Pearl earrings too (seen below during a visit to Berlin, Germany in 2017).
This is a stand-out look for me, and the Aurora is one of my favourite dresses to date. I love the bold colour, the shimmering sequins, the lace detailing—all of it. I also appreciate how Kate matched the gold on her earrings to the clutch bag frame too. But what about you? Did you like this look? Let me know in the comments below!