The Duchess Wears Gabriella Hearst for Suffrage Celebration

The Duchess wore Gabriela Hearst for tonight’s reception at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand. The event celebrated the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.

Hosting tonight’s function, Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy seen above in a green dress; on the far right you see Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Before the reception the Duke and Duchess met the Leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges, second left, and his wife Natalie.

More on the history of the women’s vote in New Zealand from the Ministry of Culture:

On 19 September 1893 the Electoral Act 1893 was passed, giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote.

As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

There have been a number of events honoring the anniversary. In September the Women’s Suffrage Sunrise Celebration marked the occasion.
Embed from Getty Images

At tonight’s event Meghan delivered a brief speech.

Hannah Furness of The Telegraph tweeted some of the points Meghan made in her remarks.

Video of Meghan Markle speaking at Government House #RoyalVisitNZ 1/2

Now for what Meghan wore to this evening’s reception, starting with her dress by Gabriela Hearst. It appears to be a custom version of the Herve style, seen in the designer’s 2018 S/S runway collection and shown below.

I digitally lightened this photo to better show the details on the bodice and waist.

The bodice is geometrically cut; the piece has an A-line silhouette with a full skirt, and hidden back zipper. The dress is crafted from a blend of 51% silk and 49% wool that I am guessing feels just glorious on. The spaghetti straps seen on the original have been swapped for off-the-shoulder straps. The Herve is available at Gabriela Hearst ($2495).  Our thanks to UFO No More for their ID work on this piece.

If the designer’s name sounds familiar, you may be thinking of the Gabriela Hearst bag Meghan carried when visiting Sussex.

Today Meghan carried what we think is her Dior Bee clutch in navy leather. Meghan’s bag does not have the bee on the flap for which the pouch is named. (The image below shows the bag being carried on another occasion, not tonight.) 

UPDATE 1/16/19: Meghan’s shoes look like the Stuart Weitzman ‘Nudisong’ Sandal in black suede, $398. The sandal’s has a 4″ heel verses the Nudist style which has a 4.5″ heel which is much higher than Meghan has worn. Stuart Weitzman ‘Nudist,‘ but her heel didn’t look quite as tall as the 4″ seen on the Nudist. At this point we’re pondering and hoping for better photos.We saw a new necklace for the Duchess, in a diamond spiral motif.

It turns out the piece, the Tattoo Diamond Pendant was made by artist Jessica McCormack. The design is inspired by the ancient Māori art form called Ta Moko. Thanks go once again to the über-talented Michelle for her incredible knowledge base and generosity in sharing information.

It also looked like the Duchess wore earrings from the Birks Snowflake collection, the Small Round Jacket Earrings ($2995).

That is our overview of Meghan’s reception ensemble. We’ll try to get a better answer on her heels. Tomorrow is a busy day.

We’ve had a number of inquiries from WKWers curious about the timing of specific events. That’s not info we are generally privy to so we’re not usually of much help. But we do know the time for at least one of the tour events in New Zealand, the walkabout on the wharf in Auckland.

We’ll leave you with this clip of Meghan speaking. I *think* it includes her remarks in their entirety.


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  1. Okay now THIS is my favorite look of the tour! So stunning and elegant. The sleeves and neckline create this show-stopping geometric dramatic effect that I’m just in love with. And the red poppy is the perfect stand-out accessory (though I know it is there as a symbol, not an accessory). Perfection all around.

  2. I must be the only one, but I don’t care for the reworked shoulder straps. Something about the new design doesn’t look right to me. I much prefer the original with the thin spaghetti straps. I’ve just always loved a dress with spaghetti straps.

    I don’t mean to nitpick, though. I think Meghan looked wonderful… very glamorous and sophisticated.

  3. I think this is the first post (maybe I should say that I remember) on WMW or WKW that there was no difference of opinion on this beautiful dress and accessories. Every day of this tour she looks better and better

    I thought her speech was wonderful and very heart filled. Since The Royal Family isn’t suppose to have opinions about political issues, will she be spoken to when she gets back to England. I hope not!!

  4. She nailed it. Fashion-forward, but regal; modest, but glamorous; pretty, but modern; not-too-dressy, but not-too-casual; fitted, but not revealing; appropriate, but fun; and the skirt is not-too-full, but not-too-narrow. She looks beautiful, and comfortable, and no signs of a safety pin. Cut her some slack, people. She’s got a lot of boxes to tick with every outfit and her body is changing by the minute. Kudos to Meghan for being so much fun to watch as she walks the tightrope, and to everyone on the website who makes it so easy to follow her and her sister-in-law, Kate.

  5. A beautifully sophisticated look. Much prefer it to the frou-frou Dela renta pouffy dress (that was beautiful but looked like an award show presenter outfit). This was perfect touch of glam in the jewelry, but still simple elegance.

  6. Gabriela Hearst has a designed a stunning dress deceivingly simple in appearance until closer observation.

    Thanks to Susan’s research and observations, we find out that this black dress has been elevated to a higher design level with the bodice cut out and then replaced… perhaps with fabric cut across the grain? The inserted panel looks like a different shade and texture from the original on my computer. Perhaps ELIZAMO will comment on this technique?

    New Zealand continues to inspire with key positions carried out by women such as Governor-General Dame Patsy Reedy and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardell. I was curious about the painting behind Meghan. Came to find out the portrait, painted by Denis Fildes in 1960, is of Queen Elizabeth II and hangs in the Ballroom at the Governor’s House. What a wonderful motivator!

    • Kia ora Christina, Our Governor-General is Dame Patsy Reddy, and our Prime Minister is Ms Jacinda Ardern. I just thought that I should set the record straight regarding the spelling of their surnames. Best wishes, Caroline.

    • Thanks to Susan’s wizardry with digital enhancement to lighten the bodice so we can see the detail. I really think it’s the same fabric, in the same color, cut on the straight. This gorgeous dress is all about the seam detail.

  7. The Duchess looks beautiful, just love her evening dress, subtle jewellery. Her hair and makeup just right. Her speech is fantastic. What a wonderful public speaker she is. Harry must be very proud of her. Thank you for a wonderful and up to date blog, it has been a pleasure following this page, its so informative and I have learned so much. What a great way to follow the Royal tour, you haven’t missed a beat!!

  8. Oh those little sleeves are making me drool! What an exquisite dress — from the sheen, to the inventive seems and darts, to the silhouette, to those sleeves — I just love every inch of it. I’ve been impressed by how much Meghan is honoring Commonwealth designers on tour — seems to do so much more than British designers back home. Perhaps this will signal a change for the future? The Maori-inspired necklace is just one of so many examples where she has uncovered Aussie and NZ designers in subtle and not so subtle ways. Bravo Meghan!

  9. LOVE this. Love the little cap shoulder strap, the shoes (although I am awe of how the Duchess can even stand in this height of shoe!), and the delicate necklace is beautiful. She also seems to love the 3/4 length dress…very polished. Perfection.

  10. Beautiful necklace that I hope we get to see more than just in relation to New Zealand, exquisite detailing on the dress bodice. Also nice to see truly luxurious fabric blend like wool and silk – it’s a shame when Meghan’s team spends hundreds of pounds or more on dresses made from polyester. Her speech was thoughtful and appropriate. Thank you for keeping us abreast of the tour 🙂

  11. I like this *very* much. The dress’s silhouette is deceptively simple, and on first glance–particularly with the spaghetti straps shown in the runway style–looks kind of boilerplate bridesmaidy. But I so appreciate your digitally enhanced close-ups, which allow us to appreciate the luxe silk/wool fabric and the edgy pattern design. I also think that the little cap sleeves–are these cap sleeves, or is there another word for this kind of effect?–were a welcome variation.

    Her accessories here are characteristically perfect–the open-toe ankle straps, a deep red pedi, and the sparkling diamond earrings and pendant (how great that it has that Maori significance). And this is how I love her hair best–the old-Hollywood glamour of shiny, sideswept waves. I’m not sure I’m ready to say it’s my favorite look of the tour, but it’s right up there, for sure.

  12. What a STUNNING evening look! I wonder if the heel is the NudistSong….a lower heel version from SW of the Nudist? I love the whole look – it’s very classy and simple with beautiful touches that nod to her hosts.

  13. A silk and wool like this used to be called silk and worsted (which is a particular weave and weight of wool). Silk and wool has a hefty hand (which is the word for how it feels to the touch, not just to stroke it, but to manipulate it) but is still quite lightweight, making it perfect for a dress like this. It tailors beautifully, with just enough stiffness not to bubble on seams, essential for these intricate details. It has a very subtle sheen, almost but not quite matte. And you’re right: it’s yummy to wear.
    You can tell I’m obsessed with this fabric!

  14. I think this stunning. It’s much like the black Wickstead worn in Ireland, but here the treatment of angled shoulder straps lifts the whole silhouette, adding a touch of asymmetry to break up strong lines, especially being balanced tantalisingly on the cusp of the shoulder.

    Spaghetti straps would have been too predictable, though they’re attached to an interesting bib detail in the original version. Thanks so much for the highlighting showing the amazing bodice seaming detail, the dress would seem very plain without.

    The advantage of Meghan wearing black is how her hair becomes an automatic accessory. It bears up well here, in lovely condition and holding together well, not a mass of stray ends.

    I’m delighted to see another full princess skirt like the OdlR as Meghan wears it well. I love how the spiky heels contrast with the fullness, it could look odd, but balances out beautifully here. The pendant is fabulous and perfect with those earrings. Every princess needs a good stash of bling to acessorize.

    So, still two days of rainforest and one of hot springs, plus two more evening dates to go. I sincerely hope Harry and Meghan don’t make a habit of trying to attach a fortnight international tour onto the Invictus games again, I’m not sure I can match the pace, even though I am neither on the tour nor writing blog updates! You’re doing a wonderful job WMW, thank you so much.

  15. Absolutely Beautiful!!! She looked so sparkling and polished! The dress with its clean cut lines was well tailored and loved the the off th shoulder cap sleeves. It made the dress look better than the original one. Her hair was off to the side which naturally makes her face more radient and more beautiful! Not a fan of the harsh down the middle flat part. The necklace was a perfect accessary. Cant say enough about the whole look. Perfection! WellDone!

  16. I know many of us initially complained about the over abundance of black and navy worn on the tour, but after so much color lately, this dress strikes a dramatic note so effectively. She really does look great in black! The dress appears to fit very well and flatters her figure. I especially like the way the strappy heels and gorgeous open neckline balance the weight and volume of the black fabric. Lovely!
    P.S. Harry looks fantastic too!!

  17. To me this is a solid reception outfit. Everything coordinates and fits fine for me. It’s too safe for me to love it and too safe for me to criticize it.
    I Iove the way Prince Harry is standing with his left foot turned up. There is something incredibly youthful about Prince Harry and I love it!

  18. What a star! I jumped off my chair at the end of her speech saying “YES!!!” She knows how to use her platform to speak out for her causes with passion and grace — it even shows in her fashion choices. She is a natural, a perfect diplomat. And so contemporary too! Throughout the tour and at her public engagements I was always thinking “She blends in and gets along with people so well because she looks like them”. People must think the same! How refreshing!

    Now, for the outfit — she looks phenomenal in this dress! I love the geometric sleeves, the triangle shape of the bodice, and the thin, straight lines of her shoes. They contrast well with the soft waves of her hair. And all in black, so classic. A beautiful nod to the Maori with her necklace, all while praising the work of the world’s first suffragettes. I am in awe. She is exactly what the Royal Family needs — a woman who speaks from the heart, a woman who gets directly in touch with people. A perfect match for Harry. Go Meghan!

  19. I thought this was a lovely dress on Meghan, I am particularly fond of the addition of the little cap sleeves! My question is about Meghan’s jewelry, could she be borrowing certain pieces for an event and then returning them (a la the Oscars) or do they have to purchase everything she wears? That necklace is stunning but over $17,000 for one necklace seems like quite a bit for something she probably won’t repeat all that often. Just wondering…

  20. This dress is top 5 EVER for me! Meghan looks beautiful, confident, radiant….just perfection all around. Her speech was thoughtful and powerful. Good on her!

  21. Meghan has certainly shown herself to be an excellent public speaker. There are so many skills and talents that make up this remarkable woman. Given the content of her speech, it was wonderful to see a female Prime Minister and a female Governor General.

    Meghan’s outfit is sheer perfection. I like every aspect of it. Thank you Susan, for lightening the colour of the dress, so that we could see the remarkable geometry of the bodice. I especially like the straps that almost serve as cap sleeves, making the dress more appropriate for the occasion, than the spaghetti straps. I am puzzled why she would be using a navy clutch, as is stated. Surely with a black dress and shoes a black bag should be used.

    The miniature poppy is most unique. It conveys the message, but doesn’t overpower the dress.


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