Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sheer beauty: The Duchess of Cambridge looks stunning in daring teal dress gown and elaborate updo at London Olympic gala concert

By Rebecca English

Standing out from the crowd: The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for the Our Greatest Team Rises Gala dinner at London's Royal Albert Hall tonight

She is as famed for her long flowing locks as she is for her impeccable dress sense.

But last night the Duchess of Cambridge showed off an elegant chignon that is bound to send ladies running to their hairdressers for an elaborate 'up do'.

Her brunette locks had been curled and coiffed to within an inch of their life by a team from the Richard Ward salon in London's Chelsea into intricate knotted bun that showed off her swan-like shoulders.

Spring style: The floaty dress featured a jewelled waist belt and netted shoulders

The style perfectly complimented her stunning teal-coloured sweeping Jenny Packham dress which had delicate lace at the shoulders and back, with an unusually plunging neckline.

And for the second event in a row, she shunned her signature nude tights and went bare-legged as she wore the £450 Jimmy Choo 'Vamp' heels, which she first sported at the Thirty Club dinner on Tuesday.

Kate and her husband, Prince William, arrived at Our Greatest Team Rises, a black tie gala evening to mark the final countdown to the London 2012 Games and raise critical funds to support the competitors.

Happy couple: Kate stayed close to the Duke of Cambridge as she walked along the red carpet

Up do: Kate's brunette locks curled and coiffed to within an inch of their life by a team from the Richard Ward salon in Chelsea into an intricate knotted bun

They turned up at the majestic Royal Albert Hall in London to roars of approval in glorious evening sunshine.

Ahead of them on the red carpet were Olympic legends past and present including Sir Steve Redgrave, Jayne Torvill and Denise Lewis OBE.

Dame Kelly Holmes also caught the photographers' eyes in a stunning glittering gold column dress by Bruce Oldfield and joked: 'Well you have got to make a bit of an effort when those two are here.'

Also present were some of the 67 athletes so far selected to compete in the Games across five sports. Team GB’s final line-up is expected to include 550 athletes across all 26 Olympic sports.

Curbside: The elegant royal couple exited their car to roars of approval from the eager crowd

Touching: Prince William puts a protective hand on his wife's slender back as they talk to some British Airways air hostesses

A total of 101 Paralympians have also been selected thus far, with the final team expected to include approximately 300.Inside the foyer, William and Kate were introduced to Lord Colin Moynihan, Chairman of the British Olympic Association, Andy Hunt the Team GC Chef de Mission and his Paralympics counterpart Craig Hunter.

Moving forward they then joined a small group of fellow Team GB Ambassadors including Sharon Davis, Tessa Sanderson and Steve Backley for a low-key reception.

Prince William gave a witty speech to the 3,000 guests in which he likened his physique to that of a pigeon.

True blue: The brunette carried a small clutch bag that matched her bright outfit

Flowing: The stunning dress had pleated detail on the back and a small bow, with tiny buttons going up to the nape of the neck

'Naturally, I was asked to compete for TeamGB in every sport, but sadly Lord Coe said there were London pigeons with more athletic prowess than me. Anyway to adapt a famous phrase from Sir Steve Regrave, if you see me in a pair of Speedos during the Olympics, shoot me!' he joked.

'These Games remind us of the power of the human spirit and human endeavour. You, our Olympians and Paralympians, will inspire people up and down this country, and far beyond its borders.‬‪

'For the athletes of Our Greatest Team, these Games mark the pinnacle of your sporting careers. I can only imagine it… competing at home, in front of your countrymen and women, with the eyes of the entire world upon you. A dream come true.‬‪

Good spirits: The couple's evening out comes after they attended a private dinner at Claridge's earlier this week

'For all of us mere mortals – and I include my brother, Harry, still droning on about beating Usain…it never counted as it was a false start…this is a lifetime opportunity. We will witness an exceptional moment in our Island History. The mood in London will be electric, ecstatic, amazing. I just can't simply wait.'

Host and comedian John Bishop had the audience and the royal couple in stitches as he said afterwards: 'I am probably the only person from my estate to have stood next to royalty.

'I mean I have got a few mates who have drunk in the Duke of Cambridge but I have never stood next to one.'

Melanie Chisholm said on the red carpet: I'm a big fan of William and Kate. I met William with the other Spice Girls when he was quite a young guy but I've yet to meet his lovely wife.

Ready to raise the roof: The couple head into the Royal Albert Hall for the concert

'It's wonderful they're ambassadors for Team GB. They bring a lot of attention. It's a real inspiration for the athletes to know that they have them and the country behind them.

Afterwards the royal couple enjoyed an evening of fine dining and entertainment courtesy of singers Gary Barlow, Will Young, Melanie C, and Kimberley and Alfie Boe as well as renowned violinist Charlie Siem.

The Duke and Duchess were seated at a table decorated with blood red table cloths and vases of roses.

Each guest - including Kate and William - were given a goody bag containing a TeamGB rubber duck, a large bar of Cadbury's chocolate and a scarf.

From royalty to a pop princess: Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh looked stunning in an off-white ballgown

Seated with the couple was an impressive display of Olympians past and present including sychronised swimmers Olivia Federici and Jenna Randall, paralympian Nyree, swimmer. Sacha Kindred, Lord Colin Moynihan and his wife Lady Gaynor, skeleton bob heroine ,Amy Williams MBE and hurdler Colin Jackson CBE.

The guests feasted on a special menu designed by Michelin-starred chef Simon Hulstone which included Lime and coriander cured smoked salmon with crème fraiche and caviar, tossed with crunchy apple and radish, a layered shepherd’s pie of lamb and fresh vegetables in a rich lamb sauce sitting on spiced red cabbage and apple topped with grain mustard and chive mashed potato with a raspberry macaroon filled with basil and raspberry infused set custard and salted bitter chocolate mousse for desert.

Along with Prince Harry, William and Kate were formally announced as Official Team GB and ParalympicsGB 2012 Ambassador sin December last year.

Taking the plunge: Ice skater Jayne Torvill wore a daring purple number (left), while co-host of the evening, Davina McCall wore a tight satin asymmetrical number

In March Kate conducted her first engagement as an Ambassador when she visited a training session for the women’s and men’s hockey teams at the official Olympic competition venue – and even picked up a stick herself.

Royal aides say the Duke and Duchess are particularly interested in the Team GB Ambition Programme, which will provide around 200 athletes and coaches who aspire to compete at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and Rio 2016 Games with a first-hand experience of the Olympic environment during London 2012.

All glammed up: Swimmer Sharron Davies and her daughter Grace (left) and Dame Kelly Holmes and Tessa Sanderson

Coupled up: Retired athlete Roger Black and his wife Julia (left) and TV presenter Gloria Hunniford and husband Stephen Way

Sir Steve Redgrave said last night of the couple: 'Our country is a royalist country so having their support behind us is incredibly important. It makes a huge impact, not just here but around the world.'

Sprinter Sally Gunnell added: 'It's lovely to have an evening like this. There's such a buzz already about the Olympics. Olympic fever, whatever you're doing, is just amazing.'

Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said: ‘Team GB Ambassadors have led the way in encouraging fans throughout the United Kingdom to show their support for our nation’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes, and to have TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joining their fellow Ambassadors for Our Greatest Team Rises will help build a wave of support that will make a critical difference for our athlete.


The bold teal gown worn by the Duchess last night was by Jenny Packham, one of her favourite designers.

It first appeared on the catwalk last September, as part of the spring/summer 2012 collection in a pale green.

The vibrant new colourway and small changes to the design indicate that Catherine's version is custom-made.

From the runway to the red carpet: The Duchess' teal gown is from Jenny Packham's spring/summer 2012 collection albeit a touch altered

Her neckline was more demure than the catwalk gown, with more gathered fabric in the bodice and slightly higher lace at the decolletage and shoulders.

She accessorised with a co-ordinating clutch bag made from the same brocade as the panels at the side of her gown, and the same Jimmy Choo platform sandals in crackled silver leather that she wore on Tuesday night.

The fine points: The Jimmy Choos are the very same Kate wore earlier this week to a 'secret' engagement while the custom-made clutch is fashioned from the same brocade as the inside panel of the dress

Dazzler! The stunning royal wore silver backed, diamond encrusted drop earrings to compliment her updo

The Duchess completed her look with silver teardrop-shaped earrings, prominent thanks to an elaborate braided updo - a refreshing change from her usually loose waves.

Her make-up was more typical of her usual look, a shimmery eyeshadow the only addition to her signature smoky black mascara and eyeliner. On her lips she wore a clear gloss.



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