The Duchess Wears Givenchy for Her First Solo Engagement

The Duchess chose a Givenchy dress for her first solo engagement this evening.

The event was the opening of the Royal Academy Oceania exhibition.

The exhibition is the first survey of Oceania art held in the UK. It includes works from Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, and also encompasses the Pacific region from New Guinea to Easter Island, Hawaii to New Zealand. On Meghan’s right you see Ken Olisa, the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London. (I am not sure who the gentleman on the left is.) 

The Royal Academy is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year. The museum is run by artists and home to Britain’s longest established art school. It is also one of the Queen’s patronages.

Earlier today, those attending a preview were treated to a dance by Ngāti Rānana, a Māori cultural group based in London.

More about the exhibit from the Academy:

Oceania will bring together around 200 exceptional works from public collections worldwide, and will span over 500 years. The exhibition draws from rich historic ethnographic collections dating from the 18th century to the present, and includes seminal works produced by contemporary artists exploring history, identity and climate change

The Duchess is seen talking with artists who have works on display in the exhibit.

Below, a gift to Captain James Cook, the figure of a Hawaiian deity done in feathers.

From Alastair Sooke’s review in The Telegraph:

Many of the exhibits at the RA are spectacular. Some are 500 years old. All, though, remind us of the strong links that bind together the far-flung peoples of the Pacific.

Five years in the making, Oceania is, then, a blast of a show, attesting to the versatility and ingenuity of the human imagination.

And this is from Robert Jobson’s Evening Standard piece:

Meghan, now 37, is due to tour Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific nations of Fiji and Tonga next month with the Duke of Sussex and was shown art from all four countries on her visit.

The Duchess views items in the exhibit in this video.

Meghan met curators of the exhibit, as well as artists whose work is displayed in it, and descendants with links to pieces in the show. Here you see her speaking with artists from New Zealand.

This is a newer piece of art in the show, it is by New Zealand artist John Pule, titled Kehe tau hauaga foou (“To all new arrivals”). Done in 2007, it uses enamel, oil, pencil, pastel, oil stick and ink on canvas. 

And from The Guardian’s piece about the show:

In this exhibition you can feel the ocean roll under your canoe, hear sea birds and see dorsal fins. The Royal Academy helps by painting some of the rooms ocean blue. Long before Cook explored the vastness of the Pacific, its indigenous peoples did. The very existence of the art here is a monument to one of humanity’s greatest and earliest acts of exploration.

A :30 video about the exhibit.

Meghan looking at some of the jewelry pieces.

Now to what the Duchess wore for tonight’s engagement. She was in a midi-length Givenchy dress with a vee insert on the bodice in what looks like velvet, sheer full sleeves and a front slit. 

Laura (Japanese_Ginger) suggests it is a version of the Givenchy Midi Dress with Pleated Sleeves ($3730). Our thanks to another Laura (SolidMoonlight) for sharing a link and pix of the design.

The dress is a black wool crepe and the product description confirms the bodice insert is velvet. Meghan’s dress was modified, substituting sheer, non-patterned sleeves for those seen in the product images, and a front slit; the Duchess also wore a wide Givenchy belt in velvet and what appears to be ‘old brass’ gold.

As Jeslyn points out in a comment, Meghan’s sleeves have some texture, you can see the micro-pleating in the photo below. The end product on Meghan’s dress looks more subtle than the image seen below right from the Givenchy product page.    

A closer look at the Givenchy belt Meghan wore with the dress.

The belt is from the Givenchy Couture Spring 2018 line. Below we show the belt worn in reverse, the buckle in the back, with the Rainbow dress from the collection:

The dress and belt (again worn backwards) also made an appearance on the red carpet at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival worn by actress Cate Blanchett.

Embed from Getty Images

We saw the Aquazzura Deneuve pumps again. The style is still available in larger sizes at Farfetch ($750); in limited sizes at Harvey Nichols ($556.56); limited sizes at Bergdorf ($750) and in mixed sizes at Aquazzura ($750).   

The Duchess carried her Givenchy clutch.

And wore her Birks Snowflake Snowstorm earrings ($12000).

Meghan was given a posy by Rima and Kotai, whose father was involved in the exhibition.

Meghan did her first hongi as a royal, several in fact. Many will recognize the hongi as a traditional Māori greeting, when two people press their foreheads and noses together.  Below, the Duchess with one of the Ngāti Rānana performers at tonight’s event.  

The Sun’s Emily Andrews shared this video of Meghan leaving the Royal Academy.


Also today, a little more about the ITV documentary Queen of the World.

In the program we see Meghan reunited with her wedding gown for the first time since she wore it in May.

The gown and accessories are shown being prepared for the upcoming exhibition at Windsor Castle, “A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.” 

More about the program from an Express story:

Speaking to the Royal Collection Exhibitions co-ordinator Hannah Belcher, while running her fingers through the delicate fabric, Meghan said: “My goodness, It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Somewhere in here, there’s a piece of… did you see it? The piece of blue fabric that’s stitched inside? It was my ‘something blue’ It’s fabric from the dress that I wore on our first date.”

The curator replied: “Oh, that’s about the most romantic thing I’ve heard.”

A reminder of how dramatic Meghan’s veil looked. 

Here is a clip from the doc.

In speaking about the veil, the Duchess says:

“It was important for me, especially now being a part of the Royal Family, to have all 53 of the Commonwealth countries incorporated, and I knew that it would be a fun surprise as well for my now husband, who didn’t know, and he was really over the moon to find out that I would make this choice for our day together.

“And I think the other members of the family had a similar reaction, and just appreciation for the fact that we understand how important this is for us and the role that we play, and the work that we’re going to continue to do within the Commonwealth countries.”

Part One of the broadcast airs on ITV tonight at 9:125pm. In the US the program will air on HBO, debuting this Monday (October 1) at 8pm. It will be available on demand October 2nd.

For those wondering, Meghan is wearing the Roland Mouret Barwick dress in the documentary. Some of you may recall Meghan wearing this dress when she arrived at the Cliveden with her mother, Doria, the day before the wedding.

Meghan can also be seen wearing a new pair of Birks earrings, the brand’s Bee Chic blue topaz and silver drop earrings, $510 CAN (about $394 US).

As Meghan mentions the piece of blue fabric from a dress she wore on her and Harry’s first dress sewn into her wedding dress, Susan C. is wondering if it might be from this blue and white striped dress shown in Meghan’s Instagram post from July 1, 2016 while in London:

Our final note: it is one year ago today that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were publicly seen together for the first time, as they attended events at the Invictus Games in Toronto. 


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  1. I must admit, I find this dress hideous. It adds unnecessary bulk to the silhouette and why so much black? As most people on the plnaet, Meghan wears vibrant colors so much better than black, navy, brown or gray. Remember that yellow dress? Or the lovely pink at Trooping the Colour. I hope we’ll see bolder color choices during the tour.

  2. On the subject of The Duchess of Sussex wearing black frequently, it may be that she likes black, or that she wishes to deflect attention from herself to the event, or it may be a clever way of disguising her middle in the event that she falls pregnant. We will get so used to seeing her in black that we will fail to notice.

  3. I like the shoes and the belt.
    Although black is a lovely colour choice for a museum visit, I don’t think it’s appropriate. A navy, brown, emerald, or even a cream would have looked just as chic. Black is too mournful for a day time event. It’s clear that Meghan likes the midi length instead of the knee or above knee lengths that Kate seems to choose more often. It suits her , as she appears a bit more carefree in her demeanour…but then, she will not be Queen, so she is afforded this ‘laid back’ luxury! 🙂

  4. Love the earrings, clutch, shoes and hair. I don’t like the dress. Just too much going on with the velvet insert on the bodice, the sheer pleated sleeves, the belt, and front slit.

  5. It’s great to see her wear those gorgeous Birks earrings again. The dress was nice, but needed the bling. BTW, there has been a fuss about Meghan closing the car door like a normal person. I find it absolutely endearing.

  6. Exquisite!
    She sparkles. Love this dress and all tbe details that elevate it from a simple LBD to something magical.
    More than anything she wears, her poise and grace are her best accessories. She is doing so well!!

  7. Hmm…I think I’m one of the few people here (or the only person) who actually likes the dress better in photos from the event and less in the marketing photos. The combination of the blouse-y sleeves and deep v-shaped tone remind me of some of the dresses that Diana and Fergie wore in the eighties (not in a good way, if that needs to be said), and the lower contrast photos mitigate that effect somewhat. Otherwise, the dress looks like it moves well, and the slit is a nice touch that gives the overall look a nice (and needed) bit of edge. I love the earrings, and the sleek, straight hair looks great with this ensemble.

    Despite my qualms about the dress’s yoke, I think that this is overall a good look for the occasion. The black photographs well in the museum setting and does a good job of placing emphasis on the pieces of art rather than on Meghan. It’s easy to look at this in the context of other things she’s worn recently and say “ugh, more black,” but I’m not sure I would have chosen a different color here (maybe white, navy, or burgundy). Silver shoes could have been a fun touch, but I’m a huge shoe person and will almost always advocate for something other than black/nude pumps.

  8. Meghan’s first solo voyage to the Royal Academy to take in “Oceania” was magical. Meghan looked timeless in her Givenchy Midi Dress with transparent pleated sleeves. I liked the front slit and length. The color of her dress, black, looked beautiful surrounded by the art and was very suitable for a special evening at the museum. The pieces curated for this exhibition, both traditional and contemporary, are very impressive. The contemporary piece, “Kiko Moana” by a collective of four women from New Zealand was so intriguing I had to find out the material…light duty tarpaulin!
    I worked for years in an art museum and was fascinated to see photos of the Royal Academy and how “Oceania” was put together – the height of the museum ceilings; display cases; use of grand foyer and outdoor space; natural light vs. artificial light. Satisfying to see the artists discussing their art with Meghan.

    Bon voyage to Meghan as she soon embarks to Oceania with Harry!

  9. I wonder if we are seeing the first batch of clothes ordered for royal life and we’ll start to see more British brands incorporated and patronized going forward. Meghan seems to dress very true to herself, with a clean and distinctive style. The generally higher (or more consistently high) price point of most of her clothes and wider range of non-British fashion make me wonder if she is just choosing the clothes that make her feel best during this transitional time and those other things are not as much of a concern or issue. Or maybe never will be, I guess we will see.

  10. Frustrated as I am at the appearance of yet more black I have to concede that cocktail hour at a city art gallery is a prime venue for an LBD. The sheer sleeves are a nice touch of evening glamour and the slit skirt gives a welcome frisson of daring amid the block colour. And this has to be the best outing yet for those Aquazurra shoes, their strap detailing and bows also lift the heaviness of sombre black.

    However I fear this is another dress that falls foul of photography as, despite being a close fit, in some pictures the bodice looks bulky. I don’t think the sleeve fabric hangs well, but instead bunches up adding volume where it was meant to do the opposite. I prefer the dress shown in the studio shots, it makes more sense to me there than with a wide belt riding high over the waist which has cut off the tip of the v-inset.

    And I think Meghan has silver earrings and gold detail on both belt and clutch, a minor mismatch which stands out more against the severity of the rest. Her hair looks great, I’m enjoying these edgy straight locks and seen in isolation the earrings are fabulous, like the shoes, doing a tremendous job of lightening things up.

    Overall I’m a bit lukewarm on this one, and hope Meghan isn’t going to wear black all round the South Pacific. I’m giving her three strikes on tour, any more black than that and I’ll quit this blog!

    • Also the SplashNews photo of her foot and shoe is seriously photo-shopped and blurred. She definitely needs some foot creme, especially if she is not going to wear hosiery.

      • Hi Samantha, and thanks for commenting! The photo you’re referencing isn’t photoshopped. It was a low-resolution image, thus the blurriness. Sometimes when we buy a photo we can’t see the resolution before purchasing and downloading and that was the case with this picture. 🙂

  11. I love the look. That dress is chic and stylish and perfect for this type of event. Agree with others who commented on how much they love those shoes!

    I have to laugh at myself though bc I thought the IG pic was from JANUARY 2016 and I couldn’t figure out why she was wearing seersucker (or something close to it) and open toed strappy shoes in London in January lol. Then I realized it was July. Ha.

  12. This seems to be one of those cases when the dress looks better in person/in motion than in pictures. I have a feeling, due to differences between the pics and the videos, that I’d be drooling over the outfit had I been present on the occasion. Those sleeves, however, can dangerously bulk one’s appearance up, I think.

    Make up and hair are flawless.

  13. I think the gentleman not yet identified in the photograph of the Duchess arriving at the RA is Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy (wearing his chain of office)?

  14. Beautiful earrings and lovely, subtle makeup for evening. I had hoped to see the dress she wore pre-wedding (and in the documentary) for this outing: stunning blue for Oceania.

  15. I don’t love it. The cut is not flattering on her and the colour is dull. Those sleeves add unnecessary bulk to the silhouette.
    Her makeup is lovely though, fresh and radiant!

  16. Really like this dress. I also like that the Duchess added a belt. I think we all would have been complaining about the fit had she not added the belt. Surprised to not see hosiery, but I guess Meghan’s not doing that anymore. A great look for HRH.

  17. The Duchess looks lovely. The dress is not a hit for me, but personal preference only. Her makeup is looks so soft and just enough. Her shoes I just love they are beautiful. She is doing so well. Good on her, with all the stress of her family, she is focused and moving forward. Her public speaking at the cooking event was fantastic. No palm cards straight from the heart, a difficult thing to do at any time, actress or not. Well done Duchess!

  18. Gorgeous! This is certainly an instance of the dress looking infinitely better off the hanger. Her beloved Aquazurra shoes look made for this dress.

  19. Her makeup is flawless, I adore the pumps and I quite like the dress. To be honest, black is a little bit boring, but always elegant. Manicure is perfect.
    NOTE: quick admin edit

  20. I’m afraid this is a look that may have been more attractive in person than it photographs. The multiple fabrics and finishes are distracting to my eye. I’d have paired the sheer sleeves with a solid black sheath instead!

  21. Well, well, she looks glamorous, elegant, self assured. The dress fits to perfection and this length is my favorite on her. Love the design of the dress including the velvet in the front, the slit and the statement sleeves. I am glad she wore her hair sleek and glossy. Her go to accessories, the diamond earrings, bow back shoes and clutch always do the job for her. She owns this solo engagement!

  22. Oh, I love this. So, so elegant. I love the sleeves and the velvet panel on the bodice. I love the broad velvet belt with this, too, just wishing it had a silver-toned clasp to match the bag and her earrings.

    I adore those shoes and do a little happy dance every time they appear. I think her makeup looks great, too– the somewhat stronger lip and the coordinating eyeshadow look super-sharp with this highest of high-end LBDs.

  23. I love the mix on fabric and she looks flawless. The original dress has the slit. The difference with the original dress is not only the sleeves,hers seems to have a velvet insert at the waist as well,judging from the back pictures.

  24. The dress is lovely and appropriate. Black somehow seems wonderfully felicitous for a museum viewing. But September seems a bit early to wear velvet. However, the dress does not showcase Meghan’s lovely figure–which in this day and age, I guess that should be the last thing that matters. But I do love well fitting dresses that showcase things like slim figures, waists or hourglass shapes, or… anything feminine. At work, my favorite outfits are knee length dresses with nipped in waists, or even fitted sheaths. Ahem, not that my personal style matters much, but I would much prefer Meghan in these types of silhouettes! This dress is feminine, but it is demure to the point of boring. Not my favorite. But I suppose, as other commentators have mentioned, Meghan doesn’t exactly consult us before dressing now does she! Haha 😀

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