Taffeta and tiaras: what does one wear to meet the queen?
Fashion Editor Bairbre Power casts a critical eye over what our movers and shakers wore for a date with royalty
THE queen took inspiration from Ireland last night in an outfit featuring white shamrock motifs and a glittering harp-shaped diamond brooch.
The top half of her snow-white evening gown was embellished with tiny delicate shamrocks over an elegant skirt, showing off dainty T-bar evening shoes.
It was all set off by a dazzling display of diamonds, including a tiara that was a gift from the girls of Ireland and Britain to her grandmother Queen Mary in 1893.
The tiara was then passed on to Queen Elizabeth as a present for her own wedding in 1947.
Her necklace resembled the one given to her as a wedding present by the Lord Mayor of London.
Meeting guests inside, she shook hands with white gloved fingers and crooked a silver evening bag in her left arm.
At 5ft 3in tall, her designers do not have a large canvass to work with but the proportions of the queen's dress -- cleverly divided between matte and embellished fabric -- coupled with the tiara, which added height, created a very contemporary look for the 85-year-old grandmother.
President Mary McAleese looked fashionably electrifying in a blue dress and coat by Deborah Veale.
Her full length organza coat sat over a square-necked silk-satin dress with chiffon sleeves nipped in at the cuff. Her shoes covered in a matching blue satin. The real drama was created by a deep trim of black glass beads which decorated the cuffs and back of the coat.
It was a sleek, almost minimalist, look for a state occasion but it worked brilliantly.
The President wore no necklace, just dramatic jet-black earrings.
It was a night of elegance with a smattering of short dresses, but the vast majority of female guests chose long, including Iris Robinson, who accompanied her politician husband Peter wearing a green draped figure-hugging dress.
Actress Amy Huberman, wife of Irish rugby hero Brian O'Driscoll, looked radiant wearing a €134 high-street buy.
Her 'Romy' floor-length, pink draped dress was bought at Ingenue in Dublin's Westbury Mall on Saturday. Amy wore pink Louise Kennedy to the royal wedding and for last night's dinner she chose the same jewel colour in a flattering fluid style with V neckline and empire-line tie. She accessorised with €35 Bijoux of Paris earrings.
Her husband wore a black tux suit and black patent dress shoes.
Former Eurovision winner Eimear Quinn arrived with her husband, RTE director general Noel Curran, in a cream Grecian dress and a silver belted jacket.
British Prime Minister David Cameron looked ultra-chic in a long-line tux jacket accompanied by a retinue of staff.
The Taoiseach's wife, Fionnuala Kenny, was in a smoky grey chiffon dress with bronze beading and a dip-dye effect, darkening towards the hemline.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton stuck with her above-the-knee '60s hemline look, and last night wore a cerise silk dress with a deep V neckline.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter was accompanied by his daughter Kelly, who wore a short dress and seriously high white peep-toes.
Former President Mary Robinson was the picture of svelte style wearing black palazzo trousers, very on-trend, and a metallic blue beaded jacket, cinched in at the waist to emphasise her excellent figure.
Dress styles for the night included kilts for the men, some seriously snazzy tuxedos and dress uniforms, and minis and maxis for the ladies.