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Fashion / Style File

Kate Middleton’s Favorite Designer Swoops Into Dallas

The Celeb Secrets She’ll Share and the Big One She Won’t

BY // 11.19.15

When I think of British designer Jenny Packham, beautiful, intricately embellished gowns immediately come to mind. Her eponymous 27-year-old brand, which launched with eveningwear before expanding into bridal, accessories and lingerie, is now coveted ’round the globe by chic women and celebs alike (Taylor Swift, Julianne Hough and Kate Beckinsale have each graced the red carpet in one of her glamorous creations). On her first-ever trip to Dallas this week for a trunk show debuting her pre-spring/summer 2016 eveningwear collection at Neiman Marcus Downtown, the demure yet jovial Packham dished on myriad topics — see our conversation below — but when it came to her most prominent client, Kate Middleton, she was the soul of discretion.

“I never talk about the duchess, I’m afraid,” Packham said with a smile. (Most recently, Kate donned a pale blue Jenny Packham dress for the UK Spectre premiere, and a bespoke red number for a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.) Nevertheless, I left Neiman Marcus after our interview with a feeling that only comes after being inspired by someone who clearly possesses that magical mix of passion, dedication and talent.

Jenny Packham
Jenny Packham at Neiman Marcus Downtown

Is this your first time to Dallas?
Yes. We’ve been working with Neiman’s about three years now. This is the third trunk show I’ve done, after Los Angeles and Houston. Houston has one of the biggest eveningwear departments I’ve ever seen. In London, we don’t have so many occasions and I think the language is generally, ‘Oh, I have to go to this thing and I don’t have anything to wear,’ whereas in places like Houston, it’s, ‘Oh, I have something to go to — what should I wear?’

You’re staying at The Joule Hotel?
It’s fantastic, I love it. The spa was great, the restaurants, the artwork …

What have you been up to since your arrival?
I went to a vintage shop called Vintage Martini. We were paying and then [Ken Weber] recognized my name, and he said, ‘One minute, just wait.’ He went out the back and returned with two dresses I designed when I was 22 or 23. I was like, ‘What is he going to bring?’ I don’t want to see!

What’s next for bridal?
I love bridal. I love designing it, and I’ve got a respect and passion for it. I think bridal is going through a really big change at the moment. There’s a lot more opportunities for doing something a bit different. Brides have been through this period where they’ve been very concerned that their dress looks timeless. But if you look back to the ’60s or ’70s, there was a lot of dressing for the moment, and being [present] and not worrying about that too much. I think we’re beginning to see that come back — just a little bit less serious about that choice.

Brides should look beautiful and elegant, but also be incredibly comfortable. They should be able to forget about what they’re wearing and enjoy their day.

Is there a particular woman you’ve dressed in your career that you just think, ‘She looked gorgeous, lovely, or she really made an impression?’
Yeah, absolutely. We’re working with Adele at the moment, actually. She’s just written this new album and we’ve done a dress for her, for a television program that’s being syndicated on November 20 on the BBC. We’ve also done some different dresses that she should be wearing very soon, for presentations and concerts. Adele is very shapely and obviously incredibly talented, and she really loves fashion a lot.

I loved dressing Kate Winslet as well — that was a complete thrill. I love working with Dita Von Teese because she’s just incredible. We’ve done some costumes for her.

Jenny Packham, available at Neiman Marcus.

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