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William's Fair Lady at the "Embassy Ball"

Friday, March 17, 2017

Some twenty odd years ago, young Kate Middleton played Eliza Doolittle in a school play. The video of her dressed as a working girl and singing about her dreams of a better life has charmed fans around the world. Tonight, life imitated art, as little Kate Middleton now "is a princess" and descended the stairs at the British Embassy in Paris dazzling like the transformed Eliza on the steps at the Embassy Ball


Of course, Kate, unlike Eliza, really is a princess, not just presumed to be one by Zoltan Karpathy. Which is why tonight, as she and William prepared for dinner, the royal standard fluttered in the breeze over the Hôtel de Charost alerting passing Parisians of the special guests:

In the courtyard below, a stream of celebrity guests made their arrivals, including Jena Reno and Kristin Scott-Thomas.  Kristin Scott Thomas rather embodies the theme of the night. She is British, (born in Cornwall) but she traveled to Paris at 19 to be an au pair and "never came back."
She married a French doctor, from whom she is now divorced, but she has lived in France since. She stars in both French and English--someone who really has bridged the culture gap. (If you like sweet French movies, Reno is fabulous in Le Chef, available on Netflix.) 


Inside, the decadent ballroom was arranged for a dinner set to impress.

KP
If you are interested in the house, I recorded some of the photos from my favorite coffee table book that just so happens to feature the ambassadors' homes in Paris. The resolution isn't as good here as it looked on my phone. I just jumped up and ran across the room to film this when I thought about it. Room for growth...



The royal couple greeted their hosts and the four then made their way to the assembled guests. Kate's dress is even more beautiful in motion. The structure reminds me of her ARK Gala dress--her first Jenny P!


While we are here, Anne Llewellyn looks stunning, too. I haven't poked around to learn the designer, but this dress is very much in the style of a Beulah, although having recently perused their site on another matter, I don't think that is the brand. But, I really like her whole ensemble. Simply, elegant dress and bold accessories. 






Prince William again took center stage this evening, in several capacities. The Duke shared a message with guests from the Queen, continuing the theme of partnership from the late afternoon reception.


A young group of singers were then ready to perform a brief song for their royal guests. Fate has a quirky sense of humor. The youngsters performed "Happy," the song that for the moment is inextricably connected to images of William's inept, but still somehow charming, gyrations on the dance floor in Verbier. I think William and I might be soul-siblings. Just when you think life will let up already, it's got one more prank to pull. In my experience, this will be a great story to tell at Thanksgiving in two or three years. The press reported that William didn't blink, but he did cast a brief glance at Kate. 


Everyone clapped gamely and thanked the kids for their performance. You can't blame the kiddos. [By the way, that's Audrey Tautou to William's right.] 



Tonight, Kate returned to the Queen of the Night, aka the one and only Jenny P. The intricate dress is practically a work of art with sequins, embroidery, and stitched embellishments creating what appears to be a silver vine, tendrils, and delicate flowers.


Kate accessorized with her formal occasion staples. She wore the diamond chandelier earrings on loan from the Queen as well as the Queen Mary Choker bracelet, both of which we saw last year at the Taste of Norfolk. 


Kate carried her L.K. Bennett Casa clutch and wore her recently debuted de la Renta Cabrina Sparkle pumps. 


For me, I needed to warm up a little to this dress. Kate does love her sequined and embellished dresses. The opening shot of her coming down the staircase really stole the show for me, though, and seeing it in motion in the various videos gave me a better sense of its structure and elegance. I am particularly a fan of  the icy blue and the sparkling champagne accessories. Finally, in some shots, such as the one below, it looks just a pinch Regency, and that scores points in this setting. It isn't my favorite evening gown, but I wasn't in love with the ARK Shimmer dress and now it is one of my favorites. It is a win for me!


The real winner today is the Cambridge couple. From their lightly strained start in London this morning, to their arrival at the Élysée Palace, and the reception tonight, they are reminding everyone what a strong team they truly are...and that Kate really is William's Fair Lady. Love looks good on them.


Finally, if you want to see Kate the flower girl, before she came down those stairs as a princess, here she is:


39 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post Jane. I love your analogy to My Fair Lady. Our favorite "Princess" was positively glorious tonight. As a matter of fact throughout the entire day, she just glowed, and was her most beautiful self. What an asset she is to the Royal Family. I hope they all cherish her.

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  2. very well written post! Even though I find the dress gorgeous, I prefer the younger looks on CC.. this somehow makes her look more demure.. great entry as a couple! Looking forward to the remainder of the tour, xo, anna

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  3. I think she looked absolutely beautiful and I particularly loved her hair - something I often have issues with.

    However, I suspect that in the backrooms there is a lot of upset and anger over the French's behaviour. I don't believe Hollande's comment re Verbier was just small talk - he was making a dig. And I am afraid i am a little suspicious of the children's singing that song too. They didn't sound brilliant and I can't help thinking it was a last minute decision. I think in diplomatic circles, the French are sending a signal to the UK by purposefully attempting to humiliate the heir to the throne. I am sure the British are fully aware of this and I feel sorry for William and Kate having to take it in the interests of diplomacy.

    We might be trying to make them our Brexit ambassadors but I am confident this first trip is being extremely testing for them. It's all very well for William to remind everyone about the world wars, but we should remember that before that England and France were traditionally enemies and there's no sense that the French are feeling too much love for the British right now. If William hadn't been silly in Verbier they would have found another way to put the boot in, which perhaps the rest of us wouldn't have noticed. But this seems pretty clear to me.

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    1. It takes a long time to rehearse something of that caliber, it's likely an unfortunate coincidence. Happy is a fun song that a lot of people like to sing (and apparently dance too). It is not out of the realm of unusual to have both the Prince gettingvhis groove on and the kids intending to sing, this very popular song. Hollande's remark, however, was not.

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    2. What - are you MI-5 or something? What facts do you base your "suspicions" on? I'm sure Kate & William have moved on. She looks just stunning!

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    3. I doubt the song was done to humiliate William and/or Britain. I did notice some of the guests at the tables glancing around with uncertainty, but finally getting into the spirit of the children's presentation. I doubt the song choice was a coincidence. Call it a feeling. I see it as a valve to release the tension that overshadows such occasions when there is the feeling of waiting for the other shoe. The group seemed to noticeably relax after the song. I realise I may be reading way too much into a few seconds video. I had remarked somewhere that no French diplomat would take note of the ski weekend, unless the publicity continued into the actual tour. I was wrong, I guess, but then I don't think of Hollende as much of a diplomat. I also choose to view his remarks at the greeting and welcome as an ice-breaker. It brought the elephant in the room out for display and then quickly retired it so things could move along. I think those who understand diplomacy and PR will see it as such. I'm not saying he might not have enjoyed getting back some of his bad press and expressing the underlying competitive spirit behind most British/French interactions. He probably enjoyed it. I do think it was a clever, strategic move, one that the Duke and Duchess likely knew was coming. And I think Kate should receive an award for outstanding performance by a leading actress at the next BAFTAs.

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    4. I thought Hollande asked William about rugby. Commenters on that post clarified the comments and it sounded much more like what was on the recording than any references to Verbier.

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    5. Also, arranging and learning a song takes far to much time for that to have been at all related to any gaffe of William's. They're children; they learned a well-loved and very popular song that's actually appropriate for their age group (not that common), and probably pull it out at most or all performances. I love a good conspiracy, but as a lifelong performer this is a non-starter for me.

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    6. I think it was a moment of irony rather than any attempted sleight. Those children have likely been working to perfect a popular piece that happens to be so popular it also shows up in nightclubs and entices William to dance. The thought that the French are using children as pawns in an attempt to embarass William is a bit ridiculous.

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  4. Just perfect.

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  5. Kate has stage presence & a really lovely tone to her singing voice, she had something special about her, even back then. I love seeing her perform in her school plays, wish we could hear her sing a tune, maybe someday in the near future :)
    I love this 'Elsa' dress...the detail is just gorgeous & the shot of them both coming down the stairs was magnificent. It does remind me of something HM would wear, she looks very regal & like a true future Queen.

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    1. Kate singing "Let it go"?! That might have been fun last night! ;-)

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    2. Haha! That song would've been perfect :D

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  6. Thanks for the videos. More videos please, they're really hard to find! I enjoyed your sense of humor in this one. ;)

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  7. Must say I am surprised that the British Ambassador saw fit to permit the possible embarrassment of his guests.
    All yesterday the press and media had included scenes from Verbier in all the reports of Friday's engagements, playing this song over and over again. Lord Llewellen might think the Duke deserved to be embarrassed, but not his place to do it. Catherine did not deserve to be embarrassed.

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  8. I agree with you on the dress, but seeing it in motion made a difference. The detailing is beautiful. Thank you for the great coverage.

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  9. I liked the dress overall. I feel that a different sleeve length or design might have been better suited to the shape of the dress and Kate as well. The sleeve length that hits mid-elbow is an awkward length on most people. Maybe if the sleeves had been fitted and not scalloped at the end, I think it may have suited design better. Now that I think about it, a boat neck cut along the shoulder area might have been better suited as well. The subtle tweaks would have changed the entire look of the dress and shifted it from lovely to wow!

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  10. I imagine that William accepted that the joke was on him, this time, and moved on. Too much was made of the whole incident, IMHO.

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  11. Definitely a glittering princess-y look! But I really am starting to think "bespoke" sometimes only means very expensive one of a kind and doesn't mean what it used to mean in terms of obtaining an individualized fit. The fit of the top of the gown isn't all that flattering to Kate's shape (although a different foundation garment might help) and the skirt (or skirt lining) seems cut too narrow...at times Kate seems to be having trouble walking in it. I know she has a long stride and here some of her steps seem almost "mincing." I don't think its the heel height since we see her in heels so often (although she HAS been in heels most of the day here and usually we only see her for 1-2 hr stretches.)

    The jewelry is beautiful and I am glad she took off her watch. Her makeup is nice and I like the added lip color especially since the dress is so pale. I don't like the hairstyle at all though. I can deal with the pullback she seems to like so much. But the messy mini-bun sticking out of the back looks quite odd to me. I think simple and sleek in back would have been much better. Sometimes I do wonder what sort of experience her hairdresser has had since the days when she cut W&H's hair when they were children.

    I really don't think the children were set up to sing that song to embarrass Will. They may not sound polished but I sincerely doubt the song was purposely arranged since the videos were released. And there seems to be some disagreement as to whether the president asked about Verbier or asked about *rugby.* So far as what the media chooses to play, I'm not sure why that should be under gov't control.


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    1. lizzie- I believe the dress has a built in foundation. You may have to blame the designer. Difficult to alter. I think she looks fine. anon1

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    2. Could be. If you re-read my comment though you'll see I WAS blaming the overall fit issues (as I perceived them) on the designer especially since this dress is bespoke.

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    3. "...a different foundation garment might help." I read your comment correctly. I understand you complained about the fit-compare the fit of the Chanel- and blamed the designer. However, it was not a matter of Kate's choosing the wrong foundation. My point was she couldn't change the foundation as it was part of the dress. Perhaps a re-read of my comment? :+] . She couldn't change foundation garments without changing gowns. To be fair to designers and bespoke gowns, it may be that the client's time constraints during the time of fitting may enter into consideration. I think the blush sequin gown fit well for the 'Taste of..." dinner, although it is not my favorite JP gown. The teal gown, which is my favorite, also fit well, I think. Not the designer so much as the client's time and/or body change issues. It is possible Chanel insists on proper fitting as part of the sale--who knows? However, I think the runway version looked like a sack of potatoes on the model or something Eliza would have worn selling flowers on the street. Ha!Seriously, does anyone here have personal knowledge of Chanel's fitting procedures? (if so, I may be a tad jealous)

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    4. I meant re-read the total comment. Yes, I said what you quoted *after* I said the designer was at fault. Also the part you quoted began with "although" a word you left out in what you quoted. And all of it was in a parenthetical! Meaning, I don't think it fit very well because of the cut/construction (but it is possible a different undergarment might have helped.) That surely seems to me to be saying the designer has the primary responsibility for a bespoke gown. That would seem even more true if the foundation is built in.

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  12. I am so happy that Kate turned to Jenny P. again for her evening ensemble. I love the look of this dress and you really hit the nail on the head with the comparison to a Regency style. I could very much see this dress at Pemberley! Three wins on the day for Kate and she must be exhausted.

    I am so glad you mentioned Anne Llewellyn because she is quite lovely and looked so stylish all day. I also was happy to see Jean Reno who, with his mischievous grin and twinkling eyes, is one of my favorites. I am sad that William's unfortunate choices in Verbier cast a shadow over this trip. Kate is up to the challenge though and is quite the jewel in the royal crown.

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    1. Amen! All around & Especially regarding Kate! A True Gem in The Royal Crown! Me thinks The Student has become The Teacher?

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  13. Hi, Just FYI Catherine is not a princess, this article explains why http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/entertainment/a33327/royal-etiquette-stop-saying-princess-kate/

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    1. She's "Princess William Wales". Just like Diana was not "Princess Diana", rather she was actually "Princess Charles of Wales" or "Diana Princess of Wales". Just like the children's Birth Certificate's say on the line for Job: Princess of The United Kingdom. They use their Duke & Duchess Titles, but Their Lead Titles are "Prince & Princess William Wales" Just like we have "Prince & Princess Michael of Kent". Now just like Diana... She is a Princess & her name is Kate... So just like the public shortened Diana's title to Princess Diana, they might come to shorten Kate's to Princess Kate, tho neither would be correct. However, She Is A Princess of The United Kingdom.

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    2. She is a Princess of The Realm but not a Princess of The Blood. Also, The family adaptation (to Mountbatten) that was attempted to be pushed on, (you'll see it on "The Crown") was Denied for a long time! It was only in recent history (I'm not sure of the year) that the Non Ruling Children & Grandchildren were given the last name of "Mountbatten-Windsor" as a special gift & honor from The Queen to Honor Phillip! However, Charles & all his immediate descendants will go by "The House of Windsor". The "House Name" has Never been changed from "Windsor"! It was a change in The Surname to be used by Phillip's (& The Queen's) Descendants that would not rule.

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    3. Do we really have to do this? I mean, does it really matter?!?

      FYI - William put down as Kate's occupation on George's birth certificate Princess of the United Kingdom. Google it. So if he calls her that, I think we are safe.

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    4. She is Princess William of Wales. HRHs do not have a surname, though the two Princes used just "Wales" whilst in the armed services.
      On the morning of their wedding when "BP" was explaining her title, they added that no one would mind too much if they called her Princess Catherine.

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  14. Please pardon if I repeat others' thoughts-I wanted to respond while my impression was fresh. FIRSTLY-you have out-done yourself. I need not eat dinner as I am satiated----ELIZA "..'oo takes good care of me:" Where have we heard that before? Now we know the inspiration for Kate's words. The DRESS: I thought. "The Empress Josephine," as she glided down the stair case. My FAVORITE part of the post: Jane's guided tour, complete with narration (that was you, wasn't it, Jane?) absolutely charming. What lovely, graceful hands. Now I can understand why you stayed up to read the bios of the commenters. It forms a bridge, a connection that adds a whole new dimension to blogging. Thank you for this, Jane. PS If the coffee table book tour was actually done by a Parisian actress or perhaps a British diplomat I hope you will convey my compliments.

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  15. The group of youngsters that performed in front of guests is "Kids United"....a super-star kids band. Very popular in France. Just to let you know

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  16. Jane, I had to first jump down here to chat, then I'll go back up to relish in the full post. OK, I Looooved your spontaneous video! I especially appreciated it after finishing my virtual coffee chat with you! :) It was so cool hearing your voice, as you paged through the exceptional photos in your book & I adored hearing your authentic real time reactions to what you were appreciating in the rooms, along with your impromptu commentary! :) So I Propose, that You add This as an Ongoing Treat for All of Us! I love the way you express your opinions & you are so well versed on so much about English & European History & Lifestyle (especially England & France) that so many could learn so much from you. You could film bits of yourself chatting with us on a given topic, complete with a set up of having tea? Or you could do, as you did today, not show yourself, but talk & educate us about other aspects that would enhance your followers' knowledge about London, British History, Royal Homes The Royal Family & it's Traditions etc.... & all with your own spin to it all. Soooo...... What do you think? Anyone else like this idea?
    Very Fondly, Becca USA :)
    ps before I popped over here, I was Just about to google The History of The Building! Then Hello! Here's Jane to The Rescue! Great Minds Do Think Alike they say! :)

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  17. This dress... Kate has plenty of time to dress like an 80 year old queen. Why start now?

    I think you included the sweet video to distract from the dress. haha

    The dinner setting was beautiful!

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    1. I think the ornate regency aspect to this dress worked for the setting but otherwise yes, I agree anon 5:25 that I have been more wowed by some of her other glamour gowns, particularly since this particular gown has already been worn by several celebrities.

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  18. I'm conflicted about this dress. I don't like the fit. It has a Downton Abbey feel to it though which I do like. Maybe with her hair up, understated jewelry, and something small and sparkly in her hair?

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  19. I wish those kids had performed 'I've Got 5 On It.'

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  20. It's one of those dresses you have to see in person to appreciate them because of the embellishments. Pictures don't do them any justice. Overall Kate looked really chic

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