Friday, June 10, 2011

The Duchess dazzles: Kate and William bring a touch of glamour to charity gala

By Daily Mail Reporter

Dazzling: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving at the Ark Gala Dinner at Kensington Palace

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a dazzling entrance at a charity gala dinner at Kensington Palace.

Looking stunning in a Jenny Packham gown, accessorised with LK Bennett shoes and a clutch bag, Kate brought her usual touch of simple elegance to the Duke and Duchess's first official public engagement as a married couple.

The couple were attending the 10th annual Absolute Return for Kids (Ark) Gala Dinner.

Simply stunning: All eyes were on the Duchess of Cambridge as she she made her way inside the gala dinner

What an entrance: Kate steps from the limousine to hordes of spectators hoping to catch a glimpse of the newest addition to the Royal Family

Kate's style has been scrutinised since officially becoming a member of the Royal family following her wedding to Prince William in April.

With her recent appearances - meeting the Obamas at Buckingham Palace and horse racing at the Epsom Derby at the weekend - she tested the sartorial water with simple but chic pieces concentrating on mainly High Street names.

However, the Duchess pulled out all the stops for the glamorous event, attending in a shimmering figure-hugging peach designer gown.

William and Kate attended the reception with 900 other guests at Perks Field and later sat down to a private dinner before the prince gave a speech.

Musician and DJ Mark Ronson and his band provided the soundtrack of the evening for the royals and guests who had paid £10,000 a ticket for the exclusive charity event.

Address: The Duke of Cambridge delivers a speech at the Gala dinner In which he pledged to 'raise aspirations, broaden horizons and encourage young people to achieve'

The Duke and Duchess attended on behalf of the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry - a body which raises sustainable funds for charitable grants.
The gala dinner was held in an enormous luxury marquee.

As the guests arrived, a troupe of divers entertained them by plunging acrobatically into a specially constructed pool.

When the royal couple's Jaguar limousine pulled up, they were greeted by calls from banks of photographers asking them to pose for a picture.

Financier Arpad Busson, co-founder of the organisation, warmly welcomed them before they climbed a few steps to the entrance of the building before posing and smiling for the waiting cameras.

Outside the banquet hall was a covered reception area with two champagne bars and stalls serving sumptuous canapes from the Mediterranean and Far East where guests gathered before dinner was served.

Captivating: Kate seems to have taken to public life with ease as she chats with PR guru Matthew Freud

Star attraction: William and Kate didn't disappoint on their first official public engagement as a married couple

Glowing: Kate's beautiful gown was teamed with nude LK Bennett shoes and a toning clutch bag

The Duke and Duchess mingled with some of the more prominent figures or chatted to associates of their host, Mr Busson, known as Arki to his friends.

William and Kate were the centre of attention with people crowding around them to get a view of the newlyweds or take their picture on camera phones.

Mr Busson has two sons with his former partner, model Elle Macpherson, and in recent years has dated actress Uma Thurman.

The royal couple chatted to his sons, Flynn Busson, 13, and his eight-year-old brother, Cy, laughing and joking with them.

After about 45 minutes, they made their way into the circular banqueting room which was filled with almost 100 oval tables.

Among the guests seated on the Duke and Duchess's table were Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth, actress Liz Hurley, socialite Jemima Khan and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup.

Hot ticket: The couple's presence at the gala will shine a spotlight on work carried out by the charity

Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, also had a place, as did William's private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, and Baroness de Rothschild.

Anish Kapoor, the British-based, Indian-born sculptor, who won the Turner Prize in 1991, was another guest with a seat close to the Duke and Duchess.

Kate sat between Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, a distant relative of William, and Mr Busson, while her husband was opposite her with socialite Countess Debonaire von Bismarck on his left and Princess Marie of Greece on his other side.

Wrapped around the edge of the room was a multi-coloured dot-matrix display which would later be used to show the bidding for charity lots that included a stay on the Maltese Falcon - the world's largest sailing yacht - or a Kenyan safari at a luxury lodge.

Beaming: The Duchess smiles from ear to ear as she meet guests at the meal in aid of Absolute Return for Kids

Meet and greet: From left, financier Arpad Busson, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Ian Wace, co-founder with Busson of Ark

The King's Speech: Prince William had an intense-looking chat with Colin Firth, who won an Oscar for playing the Prince's Great-Grandfather earlier this year

On the tables were tiny consoles to allow the wealthy guests to place their bids and around the room were swings for performers to use to entertain the guests.

The £10,000-a-head dinner featured auctions to raise donations for Ark, which has projects helping disadvantaged children around the globe.

Star quality: Liz Hurley, Sophie Dahl and Jemima Khan arrive at the gala

Belles of the ball: Holly Valance, models Laura Bailey and Saffron Aldridge

In the UK it sponsors a number of academy schools and runs other projects like Teaching Leaders and Future Leaders.

Ark was co-founded in 2002 by the financier Arpad Busson, who now acts as a trustee of the organisation.

Dapper: Elton John's partner David Furnish, left, and actor, theatre director and producer Kevin Spacey

A spokeswoman for the charity said: 'Over the past 10 years, Ark's programmes in the UK, Southern Africa, eastern Europe and India have transformed the lives of more than 200,000 children.

'In tackling access to healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa, improving educational opportunities in the UK, US and India, and giving children the chance to live in a caring and nurturing environment in Eastern Europe, Ark is helping to overcome some of the most severe blights on children's lives.


We know she can make Topshop and Reiss look a million dollars, but in shimmering Jenny Packham at the ARK Gala Dinner in London last night, the Duchess of Cambridge took her style cred to the next level.

The extravagant rose sequinned gown, which sells at the designer's Mayfair boutique for £3,800, was dripping with sequins and crystals, and the perfect choice from the British designer's spring/summer collection.

Style cred: The Duchess of Cambridge dazzled in palest pink Jenny Packham at the ARK Gala last night

The high neckline looked sophisticated, while the figure-hugging cut made the most of her slender frame.

But, fan of the High Street that she is, Catherine couldn't resist teaming the dress with a pair of suede 'Agatha' shoes from LK Bennett, one of her favourite brands.

It was a smart decision - plain colour-matched courts or simple strappy sandals would have been a safe choice, but the bow detail on the ankle looked fresh and pretty

Packham is best known for her bridal designs, and had been hotly tipped to design Catherine's wedding dress.

But her designs are more and more frequently seen on the red carpet, by A-listers including Beyonce, Sarah Jessica Parker and Angelina Jolie.

Emma Roberts wore a gown from the same collection as Catherine for the Oscars and Vanessa Hudgens chose a backless number for the premiere of Sucker Punch.

A-list fans: Jenny Packham is a red carpet favourite with stars including Emma Roberts, Angelina Jolie and Vanessa Hudgens to name just a few, though she made her name as a bridal designer

But while the designer has been well-established on the British fashion scene for many years, the impact of the 'Kate effect', is set to see her star soar even higher.

Last week it emerged that Catherine had a stronger impact on retail sales than Michelle Obama, fashion's so-called $3billion woman.



Spectators: Pippa Middleton with George Percy

She seems entirely at ease with life in the public eye. But so casual is Pippa Middleton's approach that it has caused a few raised eyebrows. The Duchess of Cambridge's sister wore a denim jacket to the prestigious Queen's Club yesterday as she joined former flame George Percy to watch Scot Andy Murray beat Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic. But as Pippa, 27, drank pints of Pimm's in the members' lounge, an onlooker remarked: 'It is rather irregular to see denim in the clubhouse. It certainly stretches the boundaries of smart-casual.'


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